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12/08/09 7:52 PM EST
Brewers discuss Hart-Maine swap with Mets
Milwaukee pitching coach Peterson has relationship with righty
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
INDIANAPOLIS -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Tuesday evening that he had no active trade talks, downplaying a report about a possible deal that could send right fielder Corey Hart to the Mets for right-hander John Maine.
"As of now," Melvin said at about 5 p.m. CT, "we don't have anything ongoing with teams."
Hart is mentioned often in trade rumors because he's still two years removed from free agency and has a mix of speed and power. But asked whether the Brewers had an in-house option to replace Hart as the starting right fielder in the event of a trade, Melvin said, "I don't see him. I don't think we do."
That doesn't mean the Brewers would not consider offers for Hart, and considering their need for starting pitchers and Maine's ties to new Milwaukee pitching coach Rick Peterson, Maine could make some sense.
Peterson was the Mets' pitching coach when Baltimore traded Maine, a developing pitcher at the time, and reliever Jorge Julio to New York in 2006. In very limited duty over two seasons with the Orioles, Maine was 2-4 with a 6.60 ERA in 11 games, nine of them starts.
Maine blossomed with Peterson and the Mets, posting a 3.50 ERA in 16 games in 2006 and following with a 15-10 record and a 3.91 ERA in 2007. He's been limited to just 40 starts in the two seasons since then, including a 2009 campaign in which he made only 15 starts because of a shoulder injury and went 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA, his highest mark since his American League days.
Could Peterson help Maine return to his '07 form? Peterson is adept at rebuilding pitchers' mechanics and helping them repeat that proper motion, both to improve performance and limit injuries.
Hart, meanwhile, continues to see his name in the rumor mill. He was linked at various points this winter to the Braves, Rangers and Rockies despite the fact that he's coming off a disappointing season of his own.
Hart missed all of August after undergoing an appendectomy and finished the year with a .260 batting average, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs. He did boost his on-base percentage -- from .300 in 2008 to .335 in 2009 -- after the Brewers asked him to be more selective at the plate, but the result was that he slipped as a run-producer. He had at least 20 homers, 80 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in both 2007 and 2008.
If Hart is indeed traded, the Brewers would be thin in the outfield. Ryan Braun is set in left field, and the Brewers earlier this winter acquired speedster Carlos Gomez to play center. The only other outfielders on the roster are arbitration-eligible Jody Gerut, who ended the season with a career-low .230 batting average, and Lorenzo Cain, who needs another year in the Minors.
Both Maine and Hart have two years left before free agency. Maine earned $2.6 million in 2009, and Hart made $3.25 million.