With today’s news about Jeff Suppan’s “stiff neck” and promises from those in Arizona of some kind of announcement still to come, I had high hopes for Doug Melvin’s appearance on WSSP 1250’s “The Big Show” today. Best case scenario, Melvin lets us know what’s going to happen with Soup. At the very least, we’d hopefully have a little light shed on the situation.
No such luck. Doug was in midseason “GM-speak” form, not really saying anything of substance and dancing around the harder questions. Not only did we not get any answers, but we were left with even more questions.
When asked about the starting rotation, Melvin basically told us what we already know — our top four are Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, and Dave Bush. Melvin reiterated that the 5th spot won’t be needed until April 15th, and he still has five days to make some final decisions. He said “it’ll be determined later on what specific roles will be,” but it sure sounded like Chris Narveson is at least headed for a bullpen role. Melvin did add that everyone has to be ready at any point, because the #5 spot in the rotation is seldom held by the same person all year.
When asked who the odd man out will be, he again said he still has some time to determine that, and that it’s a tougher call than he’s had to make in the past. They then asked how much Suppan’s salary plays in to the decision, and Melvin said it won’t be the sole decision maker, adding “We have released high-payroll players before.”
So nothing really happening on the pitching front, at least for now. The juicy nugget came when Melvin was asked about the starting outfield, and I’m going to transcribe this word-for-word, just to make sure I’m not taking anything out of context.
The question: who will be the starting outfielders?
The answer: “It’s probably going to be Gomez and Braun and, uh, right now we’re looking at our other options. We’re gonna… we have more left-handed bats this year so some left-handed hitters may play, uhm, more often than they have in the past. Edmonds has had a good spring, Corey Hart has not had a good spring up to this point. Jody Gerut has struggled, uh, and that. But we’ll wait and see, you know. We’ll determine that when the season starts. I think our outfield has a chance to be fairly productive in that regard. It’s going to be a different look than what we’ve had in the past, there’s going to be a bit more left-handedness to it, going to be a bit more speed, probably not as much power but, you know, there’s still five days left here… we still have that amount of time left before we make some final decisions about the roster.”
I thought I was crazy when I first heard that answer — did I just hear Melvin quickly rattle off Gomez and Braun as starters in the outfield, and dance around the idea of Corey Hart keeping his job in right field? Looking back, yeah, I did. And WSSP ran with that soundbite as the main selling point of this interview on their site (if you want to listen to the whole interview, here it is).
Even though Hart has been abysmal this spring and Jim Edmonds has been hitting pretty well while talking about all the playing time he’s expecting, for some reason I still had a hard time believing anyone other than Hart would be standing in right field on Opening Day. Now? I’m not so sure.
This is definitely shaping up to be an interesting final week of Spring Training, to say the least. On top of deciding how to handle Jeff Suppan, the Brewers now have to decide what they’re going to do with Corey Hart — if neither sees significant playing time, that’s over $16 million sitting around, basically doing nothing but collecting checks.