By DENNIS PUNZEL
Doug Melvin had it easy Monday night — the menu at the Northwoods League All-Star Game banquet called for both steak and lobster.
“Can’t go wrong there,” Melvin said as he headed over to load up his plate before addressing the fans, players and league officials at Warner Park.
Melvin’s choices figure to get trickier in the upcoming days as he faces several major decisions that could reshape the Milwaukee Brewers’ roster by the July 31 trade deadline.
“I think this week is going to be a busy week,” said Melvin, noting the several deals around the league that were completed or in the works Monday.
“Once one or two trades happen, some things start to fall into place.”
Most of the attention as far as the Brewers are concerned has centered around pitcher Zack Greinke, who is on track to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Melvin told the crowd he had no news for them regarding Greinke, but in a conversation earlier he suggested that things could begin to evolve as soon as Greinke returns to the starting rotation tonight after missing a turn to “recharge his batteries.”
A strong performance could reassure interested teams that he is healthy and as one of the few premier starters on the market could be a difference-maker in a pennant race.
“With Zack, teams need to see him pitch (Tuesday) night,” Melvin said. “It’s a big game for us. He’s got to pitch well.
“But if we don’t get the right deal, we don’t move him. If we don’t get something that I think makes some sense, we’ll take the first-round pick next year. Or we’ll try to sign him after the season.”
One thing the Brewers won’t be doing is negotiating an extension with Greinke before the deadline. Reports surfaced last week that the Brewers had offered Greinke a deal along the lines of the five-year, $112 million extension signed in the spring by San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain.
Greinke confirmed that something like that had happened but declined to discuss his reaction to that offer.
Apparently, it wasn’t overly positive.
“We won’t be engaging (in talks) from here on out,” Melvin said. “That was a little misinterpreted. It wasn’t a formal offer. We never negotiated that. We talked in the spring but we haven’t done anything necessarily since then.”
Melvin conceded that his team’s weekend sweep at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds, which dropped them 10½ games — now 11ƒ — out of the lead in the NL Central, had clarified his approach before the deadline.
Unlike a year ago when he was a buyer, adding reliever Francisco Rodriguez at the All-Star break and infielder Jerry Hairston in August, Melvin knows he’s not in position to add the finishing touches to a contender.
But that doesn’t necessarily make him a seller.
“When you’re buying you can control things a little bit,” said Melvin, who has not been a trade deadline seller since Mark Attanasio bought the team in 2005. “When you’re selling, it’s a little different.
“And I don’t view it as selling, we’re just trying to make an adjustment to your club for the following years.
“What you have to determine is whether you want something back that’s closer to the big leagues, or something that’s further away. All teams have to determine that. You just do your homework and do the best you can.”