Attanasio, Melvin chat online with fans
Brewers chairman and GM field questions during January chat
bballatc: What are the chances of bringing back Craig Counsell?
Doug Melvin: I am having conversations with Craig, and I am optimistic that we will get something done.
bballatc: Who is the leading candidate for the fourth outfield spot?
Doug: Trot Nixon, Chris Duffy and Tony Gwynn are all coming to camp. They are all left-handed hitters and will be competing for that position.
mikek29: We need another starting pitcher, is the door closed on Sheets?
Doug: The door has always been open for Ben's return, but we are currently not in a negotiation with his representatives.
1hartfan1: What will Yovani Gallardo's health be like going into Spring Training? And, will the organization slow him into things or just let him get back out there and show off his amazing stuff?
Doug: He is completely healthy and has received a favorable report from our medical staff.
viper3804: The Brewers seem focused on Prince. Why doesn't Corey Hart and J.J. Hardy get multiple-year deals to solidify those positions for years to come?
Doug: Once we get to Spring Training, we will sit down, review our roster and consider the feasibility of multiyear deals for some of our younger players.
flash1200: What philosophy did you find the best asset of manager Ken Macha?
Doug: Ken's overall winning experience and winning background. He has had eight years of managing and either finished in first place or second place in his division. And, the staff he has assembled also came from winning backgrounds. Ken is very organized and has also had experience in developing a winning attitude among younger players.
1hartfan1: Is there any thought of moving J.J. to second base?
Doug: No, not at this time. J.J. is one of the top young shortstops in the game.
11in82: Doug, who is the most explosive offensive player that you have seen?
Doug: Albert Pujols is pretty darn good. I experienced Juan Gonzalez one year, he had 100 RBI at the All-Star break. We also have pretty good ones in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
Doug: You as Brewers fans have a special chance to see two of those players in Ryan and Prince.
Mark Attanasio: I really enjoy watching Ryan and Prince play. As a kid, I was a big Mickey Mantle fan. He was pretty explosive as a hitter.
1hartfan1: What is your view on the [World Baseball Classic] and do you encourage players to participate?
Doug: I enjoy watching the World Baseball Classic and we encourage our players, if asked, to perform.
1hartfan1: Has "Hells Bells" made it on the stadium play list yet?
Mark: We are in the process of reworking the Miller Park play list this year. One of the challenges is finding a song to play when we lose, the players never seem to like our choices. I am sure "Hells Bells" will be on the play list.
crewfattie: Will there be any Brewers games on the new MLB Network?
Mark: There will be a weekly game on Thursday nights on MLB Network, but they have not yet announced a schedule.
NicoleM: Mark, does your father plan on singing the national anthem on Opening Day?
Mark: Rick Schlesinger put in the formal request two days ago. My mother reports that he was singing the national anthem in the shower this morning so I think he is ready.
oasisrx: What input will the Brewers have on replacing Jim Powell (so sad to see him go)?
Mark: We are working closely with WTMJ, our flagship, who has final say on the hire. We will miss Jim and wish him the best in Atlanta. It is a good opportunity for him to be the number one announcer and he gets to return home.
chisoxfanx: What are your remaining plans for the offseason?
Doug: Well this weekend, I am looking forward to enjoying Brewers On Deck. We hope to see you and other Brewers fans at the Midwest Airlines Center. It will be a great opportunity for fans to meet our 2009 team and some of our young prospects.
jaboutside: Will Manny Parra have any restrictions on how many innings he pitches this year?
Doug: We would love to see him pitch 175-180 innings and get upwards of 30 starts this season.
oasisrx: Mr. Melvin what goes into your decision to have or not have a moustache?
Doug: It's a family decision. My wife and kids force me to keep my moustache. I shaved it off once and didn't tell them and they got mad at me.
bda08: Any chance we see [Mat] Gamel or [Alcides] Escobar this year?
Doug: We will see both of them a lot in Spring Training to prepare them for the Major Leagues. Sometime during the year, if there is a need.
brwfn4life: What are some new changes for this year at Miller Park?
Mark: Among the changes are the renovation of the main Brewers Team Store, we have upgraded our Club Level Suites and are in the midst of constructing the Harley-Davidson Deck. Every year, we try to improve the fan experience at the ballpark.
Mark: Also, something the players will notice more than the fans is our new outfield turf.
Ttonyg30: When are they giving out Doug Melvin & Mark Attanasio bobbleheads?
Mark: We are working on refining the moustache on the Doug Melvin bobblehead!
phq2: Who will be the leadoff hitter this season?
Doug: The plan is still to have Rickie [Weeks] lead off. Last year, we scored the second most runs from the leadoff position in the National League. Ken Macha makes the final call, but he seems to be encouraged by what he sees.
bda08: Are you a fan of the World Baseball Classic?
Doug: The players who perform have taken a personal pride in playing for their country. It is good for the game of baseball.
xternal: The team's done a fantastic job building through the Draft. Any worries now that we've lost key personnel in that dept to Seattle?
Doug: We recently had our scouts meetings. We feel that we have not missed a beat in having Bruce Seid as scouting director and Ray Montgomery as sssistant scouting director replace Jack Zduriencik as our scouting director. Between Bruce and Ray and our newly assigned crosscheckers, they bring us 50 years of scouting experience, all for the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Doug: I am very confident with the potential of seven picks in the first two rounds that Bruce and his staff will replenish our farm system to continue to make us one of the better organizations for drafting and developing players.
jaybrew82: I've been somewhat keeping tab of the team's payroll and I see it currently at about $75M. Thank you Mark for raising the payroll! But, my question is... last year we were in the mid $80's. Couldn't we offer Sheets a 1-yr deal in the $8 mill range?
Mark: We are currently between $80 and $85 million. Doug is assessing our options and deciding between signing a starter now or preserving flexibility to pursue roster additions during the season. By the way, it is our understanding at this time, that Ben is pursuing a multiyear deal.
snotbub: Will Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder be at Brewers on Deck on Saturday?
Mark: Yes, come on out!
fred08: Do you expect [Chris] Capuano to be healthy and sharp enough to compete for a roster spot in the beginning of the season?
Doug: We are looking more at May 1st as a possibility. We will get a better sense of that after attending Spring Training.
txcrewfan: Will the economy cause some teams to move high priced talent to keep a tidy balance sheet for 2009?
Mark: I expect the situation will be fluid and there is a possibility of that.
mikek29: Any regrets of buying a small market team with no salary cap?
Mark: My wife Debbie says this is the best thing I have ever done and I see no reason to disagree with that. We operate the team as a "mid-market" team, and the tremendous support we have received from our fans and corporate partners have allowed us to build the payroll to where we can be competitive.
oasisrx: Doug, who will you cheer for in the [World Baseball Classic]? Canada or USA? Who does Gord [Ash] cheer for?
Doug: "Oh Canada! Our [my] home and native land!"
Mark: Thanks again for joining us this evening, sorry we cannot answer every question. We look forward to seeing you at Brewers On Deck on Saturday at the Midwest Airlines Center and at Miller Park throughout the 2009 season!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.