Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 12/8/11

MILWAUKEE, WI - NOVEMBER 4: Robin Yount (C) speaks as Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin (L) and Chairman and Principal owner Mark Attanasaio look on at a press conference announcing his return to the Milwaukee Brewers as a bench coach November 4, 2005 at Miller Park in Miwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE Doug Melvin won't return home from baseball's winter meetings empty-handed, but he certainly isn't coming back to Milwaukee with the pieces Brewers fans may have been hoping for.Yes,the general managergot a new shortstop, but on the surface, Alex Gonzalez doesn't look like much of an upgrade over Yuniesky Betancourt.Yes, he got some bullpen help but it came in the form of Francisco Rodriguez, who accepted the Brewers' arbitration offer and will command a fairly hefty salary in 2012.Melvin still hasn't found a veteran utility infielder to replace Craig Counsell, nor has he found a bat to replace Prince Fielder.Long story short, the picture isn't any more clear today than it was before Melvin made his way to Dallas on Monday.In all honesty, are you really surprised? You shouldn't be ... and that's not a knock on Melvin, who is in the process of building his tenth team since coming to Milwaukee.Melvin has plenty of holes to fill this winter, but with a limited budget and a lack of attractive trade pieces, he has little flexibility to make something major happen. That's the way the game works. You can want a player, that player could be a perfect fit but so long as the numbers don't match up and there isn't a reciprocal interest ... well, that's where reality occasionally rears her often ugly head.Free agency is always such a dangerous course and the road only gets more treacherous when you're in a market like Milwaukee. Record attendance or not, there is just only so much money to go around. Carrying a 100 million payroll just isn't the right move for a franchise on such a limited budget. And long-term deals are even worse. For evidence, just look at the Jeff Suppan or Bill Hall deals.So yes, options are limited, but Melvin is doing the best he can within the framework of common sense and logic.Things got a little more difficult Wednesday night when Francisco Rodriguez opted to accept the Brewers' arbitration offer. As it stands, he'll be back next season at a price considerably higher than the 13.5 million he made last season, when the Brewers picked him up midseason to be John Axford's set-up man.Add that to the equation and you can figure the Brewers are on the hook for about 80 million next season, leaving little wiggle room to go out and make a splash on the market.But that's not the end of the world, either. Consider that Axford made under 500,000 next year and isn't yet eligible for arbitration. Combine the two salaries, divide between the two players and consider the production and quite frankly, the situation could be much, much worse.Gonzalez, meanwhile, won't make many forget about Betancourt, especially at the plate, but what he lacks offensively he makes up for with improved defense, something that significantly hurt the Brewers last season, especially late in the postseasonThis doesn't, however, mean all is lost for 2012. Melvin has excelled at finding pieces to the puzzle during his time in Milwaukee. He's picked players like Scott Podsednik, Brady Clark, Dan Kolb, Derrick Turnbow and John Axford off the scrap heap and turned them into prime time players, even if only for a year or so.Add in a couple of hidden gems to a roster that already includes National League MVP Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and an impressive starting rotation while not forgetting that the back end of the bullpen will again consist of Rodriguez and Axford and it shouldn't be hard to picture the Brewers at the very least a contender to repeat as NL Central Champions.That possibility is even greater now that Albert Pujols has left the Cardinals, the NL Central and National League, overall. Yes, the Cardinals are still very good. Yes, the Cubs could very well end up landing Fielder. But at the end of the day, the Brewers are still in pretty good shape.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Is Madison Bumgarner a bully?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Arnold Palmer, one of golf’s greatest ever players, dies at age 87

Report: Russell Wilson believed to have a sprained MCL

WATCH: Travis Kelce shows off nifty dance moves after TD

Report: Miles fired by LSU; Orgeron named interim coach

WATCH: Allen Robinson does 'hands up, don't shoot' after TD

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jay Gruden sounds off about anonymous locker room leaks

Report: Beckham Jr. one bad penalty away from suspension

Report: Vikings want Peterson to retire in Minnesota

Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident

Michigan is now all-time winningest program in college football history

Wisconsin Badgers serve notice to Michigan State, rest of Big Ten

Box Score: 9/26 - Ratings, Cosell, kitties and stadium names

Ten biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 3

WATCH: What are the best WR-CB rivalries of all-time?

Bill Belichick may be forced to get hilariously creative to fill his quarterback slot

CFB Crash Course: Week 4 - No ranking is safe

Where does Landon Donovan's return rank among these notable athletes?

Five sports stadiums that should be renamed

WNBA playoffs head into second round after single eliminations

A 25-year award tour: Celebrating A Tribe Called Quest

YB Box Score: 9/23 - Win totals and the jobbing renaissance

WATCH: Is Anthony Davis the best Kentucky big man in the NBA?

NFL Kickoff: Week 3 - Pity the perpetually rebuilding Browns

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Where does Landon Donovan's return rank?

WATCH: What are the best WR-CB rivalries of all-time?

Bill Belichick may be forced to get hilariously creative to fill his quarterback slot

Five sports stadiums that should be renamed

WNBA playoffs head into second round after single eliminations

CFB Crash Course: Week 4 - No ranking is safe

A 25-year award tour: Celebrating A Tribe Called Quest

WATCH: Is Anthony Davis the best Kentucky big man in the NBA?

A statistical trip thru Vin Scully’s extraordinary career

Questions from reviewing the Vegas 2016-17 NBA win totals

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker