Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/8/12

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)

The Milwaukee Brewers have nine games after the All-Star break to determine whether they will be buyers or sellers before the July 31 trade deadline.

There were few signs during the first half that Milwaukee would get into contending mode. Early injuries, underachieving play and a combustible bullpen left the Brewers (40-45) foundering for the most part, unable to get back to .500, one year after they roared to the NL Central crown with a 96-victory season.

But general manager Doug Melvin doesn't want to pull the plug too soon, especially with nobody running away and hiding in the NL Central, not to mention the availability of two wild-card berths. So Melvin will see how the Brewers fare in those nine games after the break -- six at home against Pittsburgh and St. Louis, and three on the road in Cincinnati.

Those teams happen to be the three clubs ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central, so the Brewers will have a chance to close in on all three without outside help. If they go 8-1 or 7-2 and show signs of getting back in the division race, Melvin might even look to acquire help.

But should the Brewers continue their first-half pattern of being unable to generate much forward momentum, Melvin probably will pull the plug and start entertaining offers for ace right-hander Zack Greinke, who can be a free agent after the season and has shown no inclination to this point of accepting a contract extension.

Many clubs already are scouting Greinke, and Melvin should get brisk business on the pitcher if he makes him available. The Brewers surrendered an extensive package of young players to Kansas City to acquire Greinke before the 2011 season and would benefit by getting some back by dealing him.

The Brewers have other pitchers approaching free agency who earlier figured to be attractive to teams seeking that commodity. However, starter Shaun Marcum has been sidelined by elbow problems that probably make him untradeable at this point. Left-hander Randy Wolf and reliever Francisco Rodriguez have lessened their trade value with poor performances throughout the season.

It's the last chance for the Brewers to act like a contender. Otherwise, Melvin will be facing some very important decisions as his team regroups.

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