Doug Melvin couldn't help but laugh at the irony.

For years, all the Brewers general manager heard was criticism about the organization's failure to develop starting pitching. After Ben Sheets arrived in 2001, there was Yovani Gallardo and then a whole lot of nothing.

Now that the Brewers are prepared to commit to young starters from their system for 2013, Melvin is hearing a different kind of criticism and it goes like this: "What in the world are you thinking?"

Welcome to life as a GM.

"Now that we're going with younger pitchers, people say, 'Why don't you spend money?' " said Melvin, whose club opened the Cactus League season Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Oakland. "It doesn't bother me because people choose winners and losers by how much money you spend. That's how they do it."

There is the outside perception that the Brewers are going cheap this year by dropping their opening payroll from $100 million to about $80 million. But they did take a run at free-agent pitcher Ryan Dempster and offered him $10 million a year for two years, which would have bumped the payroll quite a bit.