Melvin irked over breakup with Triple-A affiliate

Nashville Sounds inform Brewers that they are seeking new parent club

Melvin irked over breakup with Triple-A affiliate

ST. LOUIS -- The Triple-A Nashville Sounds, Milwaukee's top farm team since 2005, will have a new affiliation in 2015 along with a new ballpark. The Sounds informed the Brewers on Wednesday that they were cutting ties and going with a new parent club.

The decision elicited a strong reaction from Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, whose top affiliate will play in either Fresno, Calif., or Colorado Springs, Colo., beginning in 2015. Melvin said a resolution should come within 10 days.

Melvin delivered the Nashville news to reporters a few hours after the Brewers announced extensions of their player development contracts with two other clubs. It's a four-year extension with Double-A Biloxi, which is bringing along the Brewers from Huntsville, Ala., into a new stadium at some point next season, and a two-year extension with Class A Advanced Brevard County. The Brewers had previously announced an extension with rookie-level Helena, and are already under contract with Class A Wisconsin beyond this year.

But speaking of the Sounds, Melvin said, "Very disappointing. We gave them 10 years there. A number of times we had a chance to move and we were patient with them. ... I'm just disappointed they wouldn't have given us two [more] years for what we put up with there."

The relationship had its trying times. Brewers Minor Leaguers were miserable at aging Greer Stadium, widely characterized as one of the worst places to play in the Pacific Coast League. The new stadium, for which Brewers officials including Melvin participated in a groundbreaking ceremony, had been years in the making. The Sounds, meanwhile, expressed dissatisfaction several years ago with the caliber of teams the Brewers were providing. The Sounds were 10 games under .500 in 2012, and 30 games under .500 in '13.

Melvin says the Brewers tried to address those concerns, pointing to the hiring last year of veteran manager Rick Sweet to guide a team that led the PCL in victories at home during 2014. Sweet said on Wednesday that he'd not heard of any recent qualms with the partnership.

"From my end of it, from the general manager, the assistant, the people there we worked with every day, they were very happy with it," Sweet said. "We gave them a good club. We played very well at home. Community service, we went overboard. Never had any complaints."

Even amid rumors that the Sounds were poised to drop the Brewers for a partnership with the Oakland A's, Melvin heard the same. He says the Brewers offered to play preseason exhibition games in Nashville, and even to invest in the club if it helped move the sides toward an extension of their PDC.

Those overtures were declined without explanation, according to Melvin. He says he asked Sounds ownership three weeks ago, "If you're leaning toward not having us, just give us a heads up so we don't lose out on something else."

"There was one out there that we would have liked to have gone to, we might have been able to go to," Melvin said, "and now we lost out on it."

Nashville Sounds owner Frank Ward was informed of Melvin's comments and submitted a statement to MLB.com.

"As a Minor League Baseball affiliate, we have very strict rules as set forth by Major League Baseball when it comes to investigating the possibility of reaffiliation," he said in an e-mail to MLB.com. "We followed those to the end. Within those parameters, we informed the Brewers that we would explore the opportunity to look at our options at the appropriate time. When it came time for us to have the opportunity to talk to other teams, we decided to do what we felt was best for our franchise and for the city of Nashville with respect to winning baseball."

That Brewers' alternative landing spot was probably Albuquerque, which is owned by the same group which controls the Brewers' Double-A team. But the Albuquerque club announced on Wednesday afternoon that it was partnering with the Rockies, who are moving from Colorado Springs.

Whether the Brewers land in Colorado Springs or Fresno, it will present additional logistical hurdles for callups traveling to Milwaukee. Fresno is farther away, but the facility is superior, Sweet said. Colorado Springs often has early-season weather challenges.

The Brewers learned of Nashville's decision when an official from that club contacted Brewers director of Minor League operations Scott Martens.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.