MILWAUKEE -- It didn't take long for the Brewers' first offseason rumor to go up in smoke. General manager Doug Melvin told a Milwaukee radio audience that he was not close to hiring former D-backs manager Bob Brenly or anybody else to be the next Brewers skipper. Not only has he yet to conduct a formal interview, Melvin said he hasn't even set the criteria he's seeking in the 18th manager in club history. That pronouncement came on 540 AM, Milwaukee's ESPN Radio affiliate, about an hour after a rival station, 1250 AM WSSP, reported that the Brewers were "close" to a deal with Brenly, the Cubs broadcaster and former World Series-winning D-backs manager. That report, via Twitter, even included a quote from Brenly himself, who said he had "nothing to say right now."
Welcome to the offseason hot stove, 140 characters at a time. "Unless someone else has been doing the hiring process, that's not true," Melvin said of the Brenly report. "We have not interviewed anybody at this particular time. It's another rumor, I guess, that has to be squelched." Melvin did make another bit of news by essentially eliminating bench coach Willie Randolph as a candidate to replace Ken Macha, who was let go Monday after two seasons at the helm. Randolph, passed over for the managerial post two years ago in favor of Macha, stayed on as the Brewers' bench coach and made it clear last week that he wants to manage again.
"My focus is to probably go outside, at this point, for a manager," Melvin said during his radio appearance.Melvin was in Phoenix to attend the Brewers' instructional league program. He came out of a meeting with Minor League instructors and found his BlackBerry full of e-mails about Brenly. Brenly would certainly make sense as a candidate, because he was one of three finalists for the Brewers' managerial opening two years ago, along with Macha and Randolph. Melvin said he has already heard directly from several would-be candidates, including former Brewers star and Astros manager Cecil Cooper, or from their agents. "Right now, I'm taking that list down," Melvin said. "We'll look at it. I'm going to have a call [today] with [assistant GM] Gord Ash and [principal owner] Mark Attanasio when we get off the radio here. We'll sit down and put the process together. It's going to take a little longer than what you'd think. "I heard the Blue Jays have a list of 50 or 60 people. Our list isn't that long, but I don't even know the criteria at this point. We're in the very, very early stages. I have to weigh the criteria and think through this, as far as what direction we're going to go in." Between Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning, Melvin had spoken individually to each of the current members of the coaching staff. Only pitching coach Rick Peterson is under contract for 2011. "I just told them that the new manager will have some of the say in the new coaches," Melvin said. "I can't tell the new manager to come in and you'll have all of the coaches back. They'll all be under consideration at that point." Melvin was hoping to begin the interview process during a 10-day stay in Phoenix that began Wednesday. Some of the first interviews could happen over the phone, he said. "The most important thing for us right now, before we get into names, is put down the criteria," Melvin said. "We want to be open-minded. The main thing is I'd like to get somebody who has experience, who has managed before -- but that's not necessarily the case. If the right guy came along who hasn't managed before, I think he's an up-and-comer and I think he fits our style of ballclub, that could come into play. "I'm sort of dancing around here, but the criteria will be important to put in place before we get into names."