Skipper Yost to return to Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Ned Yost will return next season as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, although general manager Doug Melvin didn't sound as if the team was giving him a long-term commitment.

We know we have a lot of work to do. We're not just going to be like hair conditioner and sit there and think that I'm working.

-- Brewers GM Doug Melvin

"I'm not prepared to make a change with Ned at this point. But again, the bar is raised for all of us. I don't take anything for granted," Melvin said Wednesday.

With that, Melvin relayed a story of his final year in Texas in 2001, when he answered similar questions about his manager at the time only to learn he himself had been fired.

"The same media was asking me, 'Is your manager coming back for next year?' And I went down and had breakfast with the owner, and I wasn't coming back," Melvin said.

Yost, who took over for Jerry Royster in the 2003 season, is signed for next year, and the Brewers have a team option for 2009. Milwaukee started 24-10 and led the NL Central by as many as 8 1/2 games in June but then slid to an 83-79.

Still, it was the team's first winning season since 1992.

Yost, who was traveling back to his home in the Atlanta area, did not return a message seeking comment.

Displaying a fiery temper, Yost missed four of the Brewers' final seven games because of ejections or suspensions.

In 2006, Brewers starters made 62 starts of at least seven innings. This year's total dropped to 33, with an injury to All-Star Ben Sheets hurting Milwaukee's hopes of making the playoffs. Sheets missed 10 starts with finger and hamstring injuries.

"Ben is in our plans; you've got to hope he can give you 34 starts next year," Melvin said. "The one thing is it wasn't an arm injury. It's different. It's a shoulder, elbow, an arm injury you'd be nervous about."

Brewers closer Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink are eligible for free agency. Melvin's deal for Linebrink with San Diego cost the Brewers their No. 2 pitching prospect in the organization, Will Inman, as well as reliever Joe Thatcher, who earned a win against Milwaukee the final week of the season.

Former closer Derrick Turnbow allowed runs in only four of his final 25 appearances, but he gave up at least three runs in each of them as the eighth-inning setup man.

"When Derrick blows up, he blows up. I think he'll admit that," Melvin said. "For a while, he was leading the league in holds. You don't get to Cordero if it wasn't for Turnbow. We don't get to 24-10 if it wasn't for Derrick."

Cordero, who had 44 saves in 51 chances, says he wants to stay.

"We're going to make a very aggressive offer to Cordero somewhere down the line in hopes of bringing him back," Melvin said.

But the Brewers may have to add to their payroll, nearly $72 million this season.

"It's nice to have more money, but we want to have players that want to come here," said Rick Schlesinger, vice president of business operations. "I don't look at us as a small-market team. ... I think we have bigger expectations."

Melvin also said he'll try to acquire some hitters who can draw walks and get on base for sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. That would likely come through trades since Melvin said he thinks the free-agent class is weak.

Milwaukee also appears unlikely to exercise a $9 million option on Geoff Jenkins.

"We know we have a lot of work to do," Melvin said. "We're not just going to be like hair conditioner and sit there and think that I'm working. We will be working this offseason."