Aggressive Chicago Cubs Won’t Alter Milwaukee Brewers Approach


The Chicago Cubs have been one of the big movers at this week’s winter meetings in San Diego, signing free-agent left-hander Jon Lester and acquiring former All-Star catcher Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

And that’s just fine with Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin.

"“I don’t think anything is going to happen here,” Melvin told “You can’t do things just because somebody else does things. I heard [San Francisco Giants manager] Bruce Bochy say that. The Dodgers are doing stuff but he said, ‘I can’t worry about the Dodgers.’”"

Manager Ron Roenicke sent a text message to new Cubs manager Joe Maddon—the two coached together with the Angels for several years—after the Cubs landed Lester, considered the top prize of this winter’s free-agent class.

"“You’re killing me, Joe,” Roenicke wrote."

Aug 13, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Adam Lind (26) singles against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers made one move early in the offseason, trading right-hander Marco Estrada to the Toronto Blue Jays for first baseman Adam Lind.

The Cubs also re-acquired right-hander Jason Hammel this week. Hammel was part of the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija to the Oakland Athletics in July.

"“When they made the move to get Joe, they’re saying they’re doing whatever they can to win,” Roenicke said. “He’s a guy that when you are thinking about trying to win championships and a World Series, that’s a name that’s going to come up.“When they got him, I was like, ‘Well, we just got another team that’s going to get after it and try to win this thing.’ It makes it tough.”"

The Brewers did meet with a team to talk trade on Wednesday. Melvin said the meeting was requested by the other club and might not lead to a deal.

Milwaukee does have an opening on the 40-man roster, but Melvin thinks it can be filled later in teh offseason.

With a thought of adding to the bullpen, the Brewers were on the sidelines when two of them were signed by the Houston Astros. Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson each signed two-year deals on Wednesday.

"“I’m going to wait on the relievers,” Melvin said. “I was in spring training [earlier this year] and we had signed Zach Duke to a minor-league contract and Pat Neshek was calling and he didn’t even have a contract yet.“[Duke] signed a minor-league contract at the end of January, [Neshek] in February. Now they both got $12 million-$15 million.“I’m not saying I’m always looking for bargains, but I don’t know if there’s any bargains at this time.”"

Sep 19, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton (51) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the eighth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The bullpen currently looks like it will have Jonathan Broxton at the back end. Broxton is due $9 million next season and a $2 million buyout and a team option for 2016.

Left-hander Will Smith and right-handers Brandon Kintzler and Jeremy Jeffress figure to have prominent roles and right-hander Jimmy Nelson might be in the mix if there’s not a move to trade a starting pitcher before spring training.

Internally, the club also has right-handers Rob Wooten, Michael Blazek and David Goforth.

With Francisco Rodriguez coming off 44 saves and an All-Star year, the Brewers aren’t going to pursue bringing him back. He’s likely to be seeking a contract similar to Broxton’s—something that really wouldn’t work for Milwaukee’s budget.

"“You’re looking at $18 million for your setup and closer?” Roenicke asked. “We’re not the Dodgers. That’s what it comes down to. Frankie had a good year, but because of where we are, I don’t know how we bring him in for that number.”"

The Brewers acquired Broxton at the postseason eligibility deadline of Aug. 31 last season, trading minor-league right-handers Kevin Shackelford and Barrett Astin to the Cincinnati Reds to complete the deal in September.

Broxton has extensive closing experience, earning two All-Star game nods in 2009-10 when he was closing for the Dodgers, including a 36-save season in 2009. Broxton saved seven games for the Reds last season when he was filling in for injured Aroldis Chapman early in the year.

A lot of fans aren’t happy with the wait-and-see approach and want Melvin and the Brewers to be more aggressive.

I understand that. But I also understand this team wasn’t very far away from winning a division title last season and the addition of Lind—who had the highest splits in baseball against right-handed pitching—filled the one glaring need in the lineup (left-handed power and a first baseman who can actually, you know, hit).

And it’s worth pointing out that the teams that have won the offseason recently haven’t done the same once actual baseball was being played.

I mean, how did that 2012 Miami Marlins dynasty work out?

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