Brewers sizing up future with or without Fielder

The Milwaukee Brewers are considering their options while star

slugger Prince Fielder tests the free agent market. With or without

him, they want to be a force again in the NL Central.

General manager Doug Melvin has plans for both scenarios. He

says the Brewers, who won the division title in 2011, are balancing

the finances of Fielder’s potential salary versus filling holes for


Melvin and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio met with Fielder’s

agent, Scott Boras, on Tuesday at the general managers meeting.

”Obviously, the budget will change if we can keep Prince

Fielder. That has to be an opportunity-driven budget,” Attanasio

said Wednesday. ”For the same reason, Doug has been meeting with

some premium free agents, and if it’s the right fit for our club,

then we’ll make a move. But we’re not going to fill the payroll

just for the sake of filling payroll.”

The 27-year-old Fielder and St. Louis star Albert Pujols are the

biggest names in the free agent market this offseason. Fielder,

teaming with left fielder Ryan Braun, who signed a five-year, $105

million extension in April, helped the Brewers win the division

title and advance to the league championship series.

”We think we can compete even if we aren’t able to get Prince

back,” Attanasio said. ”There are potential free agents but for

right now, we want to leave that spot open for Prince.”

While Milwaukee was examining possible approaches should Fielder

leave, the Red Sox and Cubs were trying to decide on a new


Fox Sports and Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday night that

the Cubs had offered their opening to Brewers hitting coach Dale

Sveum. A Cubs spokesman declined comment when asked about the


”We’re trying to move to a conclusion,” new general manager

Jed Hoyer said earlier Wednesday. ”There are multiple teams

looking for a manager and we’re going to keep things close to the


Hoyer said his team had contacted some of the candidates again.

Sveum, Mike Maddux, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Pete Mackanin got

in-person interviews and DeMarlo Hale had a phone interview. Former

Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who talked with president of

baseball operations Theo Epstein several times, withdrew his name

from consideration during a radio interview Wednesday.

Hoyer also said to his knowledge there was no resolution to the

compensation issue between the Cubs and Red Sox for Epstein leaving

Boston with a year to go on his deal.

Boston owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner had lunch with

Sveum on Wednesday.

”We’re going to continue our discussions,” Werner said after

returning to a downtown Milwaukee hotel with Henry.

Owners, who arrived Wednesday, and general managers were to

finish their meetings Thursday. And owners were expected to approve

the sale of the Houston Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane.

McLane bought the team in November 1992 for about $117 million.

Major League Baseball told Crane it wouldn’t approve his

purchase of the Astros unless he agreed to move the team to the

American League, a person familiar with the negotiations told the

The Associated Press.

Crane reportedly agreed to the move in exchange for a drop in

the sales price valued earlier this year at $680 million. The

person who spoke to the AP couldn’t confirm the sales price.

”We’ll let baseball talk about that. There were a lot of

adjustments, so we’ll just wait and see what they have to say

(Thursday),” McLane said Wednesday night.

McLane said he’s leaving with mixed emotions, something that hit

him as he attended a meeting with other owners Wednesday.

”Last night when I went to bed, I thought about it. I can

remember 19 years ago how elated I was. It’s been a wonderful,

wonderful ride,” he said.

”Each of these owners have been my friends for 19 years. One of

the strange things is, I’m one of the older owners right now,”

McLane said. ”There’s only seven or eight that have been here

longer than I have. Been a world of turnover.”

If the Astros switch to the AL West, it would create two 15-team

leagues of three five-team divisions each. It’ll be difficult for

McLane – at least at first – to see his team in the other


”I’ve always been a National League fan,” he said. ”Change is

a big part of my life and what I’ve tried to do in business. I

think it’s going to be interesting to see the American League teams

come in and getting a rivalry with the Rangers. That won’t be too

bad. It’s going to be good.”

Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who pitched for the Astros during

his Hall of Fame career, said he has some of the same feelings.

”I grew up an Astros fan and I look at the Astros as a National

League team but I understand the desire to balance out the two

leagues,” Ryan said Wednesday.

”From our perspective, I like having them in the same division

because it gives us a team in our time zone. … We’ve talked about

the fact that there will be more interleague play and how does the

schedule actually work. … It’s going to bring some dynamics.

We’re not sure how they’ll work. Obviously, it’s going to change

some things.”

Ryan complimented McLane for his long run.

”He had a real passion for baseball and the Houston Astros. I

would expect there to be an adjustment period for him, not being in

that role,” Ryan said.

”He promoted the Houston Astros extremely well. I’m sure that

Jim Crane and his group will do the same.”

Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner said New York likely

would continue to look for moves to bolster its pitching. Last

month the Yankees re-signed lefty ace CC Sabathia, who now has a

package that will pay him $122 million over the next five


”It was a major signing. He’s our ace,” Steinbrenner said.

”We still have some work to do.”

New York faltered in the playoffs, losing in the first round to

the Detroit Tigers in a five-game series.

”We’re pretty close to the team we were last year,”

Steinbrenner said. ”We let the fans down in the playoffs. No doubt

about it. They know that, I know that, (GM Brian) Cashman knows


AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken in Houston contributed to this