Some very interesting quotes from DM as he spoke with Victor Rojas and Dan Plesac live from the Winter Meetings.
When asked if he considered trading Prince in order to get pitching:
"It's hard to trade one of the best young hitters in the league."
"I don't see the Brewers being a competitive ball club if Prince Fielder's not in that lineup with Ryan Braun. He's meant so much to our organization... for now he's going to be part of our ball club because we want to go to postseason again. We've had 3 million fans each of the last two years in Milwaukee and we owe it to them and we owe it to the organization to keep our ball club together and try to get back to post season."
When asked about whether or not new pitching coach Rick Peterson will be working with Manny Parra to make him more consistent:
"Manny just has too good an arm to give up on at this point. You know, a franchise like ours, we have to develop our young pitchers. You can see the cost of pitching when you don't have it what you have to spend, you have to spend multi-years and a lot of money, so we're not going to give up on Manny. If you break down some of his individual games, he's an ace at times. He pitched a perfect game in AAA. He's pitched some outstanding games. .. It's all about consistency when you get to the big leagues thats what young players have to do. We're hoping that last year, that's the last year of his development and he can take that next big step. And Rick Peterson has a good reputation for taking a young pitcher, you know tweaking him a little bit finding something that just might take him over the edge and to that next step and have some success and consistency."
Of course, the thing here is that while we'd all love Manny to be consistent and get it together, I'm not sure if there's any reason to believe that last season was the final one in Manny's development. While he was definitely better after the trip to the minors, we still don't know if that's a fluke and we certainly can't do that every time Manny struggles.
Additionally, as Aaron from FireDougMelvin.com pointed out to me, left-handers typically take longer to develop. He compared Parra to Jorge De La Rosa as a Brewer citing the minor-league perfect game and having stuff but not being able to bring it all together. Enough to make you think, at least...
I did like the undercurrent of challenge inherent in your GM going on national TV and saying it, though.
In talking about LaTroy Hawkins, he said: "Having depth in the bullpen's very important."
But the more important and unusual point that came up during the Hawkins discussion was that DM said he expects Hawkins to be able to save some games throughout the course of the season.
He said that Hawkins is reliable and that he expects him to take some burden off of Trevor Hoffman. He mentioned that Solomon Torres did this for the team a few seasons ago, but went on to say that he doesn't see Hawkins racking up the 25 saves that Torres did, only that over the course of 162 games it may be necessary for Hawkins to save some games.
I assume this means he'll come in for a save when Trevor's pitched too many days in a row, but it does also make me wonder if there's a situation where he'd pitch instead of Trevor. Was DM leaving that possibility open? And if they are setting up a closer safety net, why did we pay Trevor so much?
There was one last thing that made me wish more questions had been asked. In talking about a need for a consistent bullpen, DM talked about having close games in later innings. The obvious point was about needing the bullpen to keep the team in the game, but he also talked about "different ways to score runs in close games."
I'd love to know what he meant by that. I assume he's talking about more small ball and less power hitting with the composition of the team being less home-run-heavy this season, but it was interesting that it was mentioned this early in game, during a discussion about bullpen pitching.
Seems to me the philosophy is changing if the concept is permeating even the GM's thoughts during hot stove discussions in December.