It's never too late to start planning for the future. For the Brewers, the time is now.
One game last night was the epitome of the 2009 version of the Milwaukee Brewers. The wheels are squeaking, the chains are rusty, and the service shop just closed its doors with the closure of the no waiver trading windows on Friday afternoon.
The mechanics are still mingling around, however, and they need to start the planning of the new Milwaukee Brewers model, the one that will hopefully get a head start in 2010.
It isn't pleasant to watch the Brewers struggling and falling apart just a year after they were one of the most mentioned and prominent franchises in baseball. It's not pleasant to see players who have been known to perform well in the past falter to an inexplicable level.
But those are the realities Doug Melvin and his player personnel staff are faced with today.
Many fans may disagree with my assessment but I think the Brewers should write this season off. Yes, the Crew is still within reach of the NL Central first place Cubs, but does anyone believe a miracle is possible? The tools are simply not currently present to expect something major. Every miracle in itself holds a hidden reason which can explain the results, even if they were not expected.
I don't see any hidden gems in this Brewers team this year. The offense has been following an uneven curve and the pitching has been mediocre with no suspected stars that we can hope to see emerge. The fielding, bullpen, and even coaching haven't done any favors to the team either.
Melvin played a guessing game over the past few weeks, and his guesses turned out to be incorrect. What I mean is that the Brewers' GM was waiting to see how the Brewers would fair with a very easy schedule after the All-Star Break. It is apparent that he and Mark Attanasio were hoping that the current roster would give them a good reason to go for it again this year.
Mark Attanasio needed a financial boost, after last year's spending that allowed the Brewers to only break even. This was the result of spending extra money on CC Sabathia for a half-season rental.
But Attanasio is likely not getting that boost he hoped for as the current roster proved to have too many holes that require filling. One big trade, be it for Halladay, wouldn't have solved the number of little things that are wrong with this team.
And we all need to give Melvin credit for trying.
He brought in Felipe Lopez to boost the batting average and base running, and to allow Macha to balance things out at the bottom half of the batting order where hits were at a premium.
He attempted all sorts of personnel moves, including the numerous promotions and demotions of pitchers, hoping that some of his players would catch fire and give their General Manager an excuse to wager part of the future to obtain the missing piece.
But as it turned out, there wasn't just one missing piece; there was a missing bullpen, there were missing starters, there was a missing third baseman, shortstop, and a missing injured second baseman who was on the verge of having his best season yet.
That is simply too much.
Now, Melvin faces his biggest problem and most difficult task all season. He and Macha need to somehow manage to keep this team afloat. Not keep it in the pennant, but at least keep the record at about .500.
If the coach and the GM succeed, they can expect positive financial figures at the end of the season. In turn, this will allow Mark Attanasio some financial flexibility and with the availability of certain established players to trade in the offseason the fans in Milwaukee can fully expect their favorite team to be back in the mix next year.
In addition to their record, the Brewers and their marketing and business operations team need to continue their efforts of strengthening the team's relationship with more and more fans, as this will be the cornerstone of future success.
It is mandatory to get fans excited by showing them what hides in the minors. If Escobar and Gamel are both brought up and allowed to start a few games, there will inevitably be people who will be in attendance just to see what the Brewers' future holds.
Unfortunately, just as the Brewers weren't only allowed to be buyers, they were also not allowed to be sellers.
Why "unfortunately"? There are a number of players who do not have future with the Brewers. Two of them appear to be Corey Hart and JJ Hardy. Prince Fielder is also questionable based on who his agent is. Had Melvin known that the Brewers wouldn't be able to compete this season, maybe he would have used these players to bring in a few young prospects that the team could have tested for the remainder of this season. It would have been invaluable for such young players to grow through some pains and get the taste of the big leagues.
This would have allowed the Brewers to be an exciting, and possibly a winning club at the very start of next season.
Instead, the Brewers are facing difficult decisions as many of the players are nearing their contract years. If the Brewers do not address the situation with Hardy, Hart and Fielder, soon they will be forced to make seller moves in the middle of a season, which will hurt the team and inevitably remove it from the pennant race for one more year.
If there is one thing Melvin has proven over his tenure as a GM, it's that he isn't afraid to be aggressive and to risk in a big way. There have been many debates regarding whether or not he is a good GM. I believe that the near future will give us a very good answer to this question, and we can only hope that he is as good as advertised in making bold, yet successful, moves.
Boris Yovchev is a Milwaukee Brewers Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report and a supporter of the children's story "A Glove of Their Own." "A Glove of Their Own" is the award winning children's story that teaches Pay It Forward through baseball and is being supported by Louisville Slugger, International Baseball Federeration, iFungo, Rawlings, Modells, as well as players and coaches including Jason Grilli, Joe Torre, Luis Tiant, Dick Drago, Ken Griffey, Craig Biggio and Sean Casey. Visit www.agloveoftheirown.com .
Boris Yovchev is a Milwaukee Brewers Featured Columnist for the Bleacher Report and a supporter of the children's story "A Glove of Their Own."
"A Glove of Their Own" is the award winning children's story that teaches Pay It Forward through baseball and is being supported by Louisville Slugger, International Baseball Federeration, iFungo, Rawlings, Modells, as well as players and coaches including Jason Grilli, Joe Torre, Luis Tiant, Dick Drago, Ken Griffey, Craig Biggio and Sean Casey. Visit www.agloveoftheirown.com .