Notes: Brewers non-tender Wise, Mench
Veteran reliever, outfielder granted free agency
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers gave Matt Wise an opportunity to resurrect his career after a major surgery, and Wise gave the Brewers three years and four months of steady service at the back end of the bullpen.But the final two months of 2007 were not as productive for Wise or the Brewers, and at midnight ET on Wednesday, as expected, the tie between them was to officially come undone. The Brewers designated Wise for assignment on Tuesday to clear roster space for newly acquired closer Eric Gagne, and since Wednesday was the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players, Wise formally became a free agent. The same was true of outfielder Kevin Mench, who was designated for assignment last week after the team acquired another reliever, Salomon Torres. "I just wish I could have done better in those last two months and stuck around longer, because I think  is going to be a really good year for them," Wise said of the Brewers. "Definitely no hard feelings. I appreciate everything they did for me." The Brewers did tender contracts to their other five arbitration-eligible players, a club spokesperson confirmed. The list includes key contributors such as All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy, lefty relief-specialist Brian Shouse, and starting pitchers Dave Bush, Chris Capuano and Claudio Vargas. Bush and Hardy are entering arbitration for the first time. The team avoided arbitration with two other pitchers on Tuesday, inking right-handers Greg Aquino and Seth McClung to one-year deals. Both possess the power arms favored by general manager Doug Melvin, who, in acquiring Gagne, Torres, David Riske and Guillermo Mota, has already remade the bullpen. Melvin had until the deadline to trade either Mench or Wise, but found no takers. Wise's fate became obvious on Monday, when the Brewers introduced Gagne at Miller Park in a No. 38 jersey that still technically belonged to Wise. A changeup specialist, Wise considered giving up baseball and going back to college after missing the entire 2003 season recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. Instead, he signed as a free agent with Milwaukee in January 2004, and over four seasons with the Brewers, compiled a 13-14 record with a 3.93 ERA in 175 appearances, including three spot starts. The 2007 season ended on a sour note for Wise, who took a 2.87 ERA into the All-Star break and teamed with Shouse, setup man Derrick Turnbow, and closer Francisco Cordero for a solid combination of relievers for Milwaukee in the late innings. But Wise posted a 10.45 ERA in his final 16 outings, including a game at Cincinnati in which he struck Reds infielder Pedro Lopez in the face with a pitch. "If people can look beyond the last two months of last year, I will be fine," Wise said. "I just wish I could have given [the Brewers] more." Warm it up: As of Wednesday evening, very limited tickets remained for the Brewers' Winter Warm-Up event on Jan. 15 at Miller Park. It's the third year the event will be held on the stadium's club level, but the first time tickets have been made available to the public. The $175 tickets are available online at brewers.com, or by telephone at (414) 902-4277. The event includes dinner, live radio and television broadcasts and a chance to mingle with a number of Brewers players and coaches. The list is subject to change, but those scheduled to attend include manager Ned Yost, pitching coach Mike Maddux, bench coach Ted Simmons, National League Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun, as well as Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, Corey Hart, Jeff Suppan and Rickie Weeks. Brewers chairman and principal owner Mark Attanasio will lead a front office contingent that includes Melvin and assistant general manager Gord Ash, executive vice president of business operations Rick Schlesinger and broadcasters Bob Uecker, Brian Anderson, Jim Powell and Bill Schroeder. The Brewers are also featuring the future, with prospects Mat Gamel and Matt LaPorta expected to attend with amateur scouting director Jack Zduriencik, winner of Baseball America's 2007 Executive of the Year Award. A silent auction will take place at the event with the proceeds benefiting Brewers Charities. The silent auction will coincide with an online auction at Brewers.com. Time change: The team asked fans planning a trip to Spring Training to note that the Friday, March 14 game against San Diego in Peoria, Ariz. was changed to an 8:05 p.m. CT (7:05 p.m. MT) first pitch. Staffs set: The Brewers added Double-A Huntsville pitching coach Chris Hook and Class A West Virginia hitting coach Jim Lett to the Minor League staffs, which were finalized this week. Hook, 39, most recently served as the pitching coach for the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League and pitched 11 professional seasons, including two with the San Francisco Giants from 1995-96. Since 2001, he has owned and operated a baseball training center based in Florence, Ky. Lett, 56, served as the bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates for the past two seasons after five years on the Los Angeles Dodgers' coaching staff. Lett has worked in professional baseball as a player, coach, manager and front-office executive for the last 33 years, having spent 24 of those years within the Cincinnati Reds organization from 1973-1996. The Brewers also made several coaching changes throughout the system, moving Ken Berry to the role of outfield and baserunning coordinator, Mike Guerrero to manager at Class A Brevard County and Rene Gonzales to manager at rookie level Helena. Corey D. Hart moved up to the hitting instructor post at Brevard County, where he will fill the void left by Berry. The team announced that Tony Diggs, one of the Brewers' assistant directors of player development, will manage the rookie level Arizona Brewers next season.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.