In order to whet the appetites of Brewerfan's readers for not only the upcoming season in Milwaukee, but the seasons of the various minor league affiliates, we will be
sharing with you Question & Answer sessions with each of the five minor league radio broadcasters, with a new interview posted every week or so. Each of these gentlemen do a
fine job, as many of you know via our daily Link Report reminders to tune in -- thank goodness for the internet!
First up is Nashville's Chuck Valenches. Chuck joined the Sounds in 1998 as an assistant broadcaster, and has handled the lead play-by-play reigns since 2000, so he has seen
the entire Brewer run in Nashville, which began in 2005.
Brewerfan: Chuck, it was another successful season on the field for the Sounds. I'm not sure Sounds management could have asked for anything more from their
multi-year relationship with the Brewers. Not only has Milwaukee provided Nashville with winning clubs year in and year out, but they've done it with truly prospect-laden
squads. While most minor league fans are out to enjoy the ballyard experience with their families, do you think the true baseball fan in Nashville has a real appreciation for
who has paraded through Nashville in recent seasons?
Chuck Valenches: I think they have and I think the learning curve for fans in regards to the level of talent passing through Nashville thanks to the Brewers has
been very short thanks to one player, Prince Fielder. Prince had name recognition and right away you had people who were coming out to the ballpark to see a certain player
rather than hope they get a bobblehead or see a fireworks show, etc. Luckily for us, and the Brewers, Prince more than lived up to his billing. The attention paid to Prince
spilled over and fans also started paying closer attention to players like Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart. If it had not been for the instant star quality of Fielder, it might
have taken a little longer for the average fan to notice that the Sounds had some pretty good players on the team!
BF: You would think that Manager Frank Kremblas and Pitching Coach Stan Kyles, both set to return to Nashville for 2008, have more than earned their stripes towards a
major league spot. It almost feels like, at least to me, that this is their last "option year", to use a term normally related to players only. What have you seen from them
that has allowed them to succeed, that the fan listening in or reading game accounts might not know about?
CV: Well, in Stan's case I'm not sure how he collects a paycheck and sleeps at night. Just kidding. Stan's case is a little harder to pin down because he doesn't
have a "my way or the highway" approach to dealing with pitchers. He works with their strengths and tries to address their weaknesses and doesn't try and make the pitcher
something they are not. He listens to the player along with telling him things he may have noticed. He's a very, very laid back guy but when he needs to I've seen him dress
down a couple of pitchers who really needed it.
As far as Frank Kremblas goes he should be in the big leagues right now. Period. All the guy does is win and develop players in the process. He has a great relationship
with the players and an intensity that rubs off on them. Of all the managers I have dealt with in 16 seasons in minor league baseball he makes more of a difference in the game
than any other I have dealt with. Much like other great managers he emphasizes what his team's strengths are and puts them in the best possible position to succeed. If he has
a team full of baserunners like he did in '06, he will run you into the ground. Steal third with two outs? No problem. Second to home on a slow roller to third? No problem.
The best example of the way he manages is the way he positions the infield. He told me flat out, "Guys don't hit the ball hard on the ground the opposite way", so the norm for
the infield is to overshift one way or the other. Some guys buy into it right away; Chris Barnwell was a good example, and have great success. Others take a little longer, but
they come around when they see how many ground balls right up the middle turn into easy 6-3 or 4-3 outs. I started to notice last year that more managers in the league were
trending towards this and that's a great compliment to Frank.
BF: We've read about badly-needed stadium improvements, particularly lighting upgrades, taking place this off-season. What can the Sounds' players expect in beneficial
changes this April? Have there been any indications from the Brewers that they'll look to cut the Player Development Contract (PDC) with Nashville from 2010 to 2008 based on
the lack of a new stadium deal?
CV: There are improvements in the works. The lights were addressed towards the end of last season with all new lights, not just bulbs, being installed before the
end of the '07 season. Other projects in the works that should be completed by Opening Day include brand new clubhouses that will be built just outside right-center field. As
for the PDC, I hope the Brewers realize how hard the Sounds have worked and continue to work towards a new stadium. The Double-A affiliate, Huntsville, is only an hour or two
south of Nashville. We have also tried to address all the requests the Brewers have made in regards to Greer Stadium and as I speak work continues in that direction. I can
hear it going on as I tell you this! We