I understand that you are a creature of habit. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but in 2010 it was a fatal flaw to the success of the Brewers. Strictly relying on offense to win games at the expense of solid pitching does not work. The San Francisco Giants went with solid pitching over offense, and you saw what happened. If you continue to solely rely on your offense, striking out at a pace reminiscent of a Bugs Bunny cartoon is totally unacceptable. These habits must be broken now if you are serious about winning and not just merely competing. The status quo will lead you to the unemployment line.
You cannot sit back and wait for trade offers to pour in. Last season you admittedly waited for teams to call about Prince Fielder. Why? You knew there were interested parties. Everyone knew that. Sitting back waiting for the elusive perfect offer is a loser's modus operandi. According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers could "probably" have had Daniel Hudson from the White Sox for Prince in a one for one deal. But you wanted more. Now it seems Arizona has an ace in the making. Recently there have been rumors linking a trade of Fielder again to the White Sox for Edwin Jackson and Gordon Beckham. This would probably make the most sense if Rickie Weeks is traded. Beckham could step into Weeks' spot at second base. I have always believed that if there is a player you covet, go ahead and overpay a little.You have to give to get what you want. I'm pretty sure that's how it works anyway.
Don't Rely on Old Veterans to Make Significant Contributions
Now there is a difference between a seasoned veteran and an old one. A seasoned veteran is similar to a Vladimir Guerrero, Aubrey Huff or even Melvin Mora. They may be past their prime, but they can still bring it. One name I would have to look closely at this off-season is Brandon Webb. An injury history yes. A chip on his shoulder? Most likely. He's going to want to prove that he's still got his old mojo working. While I don't know what his contract demands will be, he should have little leverage since he has not pitched in almost two years. If you recall,l he's got that heavy sinker which results in ground balls galore. Ground balls make me smile.
Old veterans include players like Gregg Zaun, Mike Sweeney and Jason Giambi. Relying on them for anything significant is pure foolishness. Offering a contract to Eric Hinske is a start. You might want to take a look at Adam LaRoche if you move Prince or even at Brad Hawpe. LaRoche would significantly upgrade the defense at first base and is a solid hitter. In Hawpe's case, Corey Hart could move to first base with Hawpe taking over in right or Hawpe could just stay at first. He played 9 games there in 2010. Brad Hawpe had an off year in 2010 but is primed to bounce back.
Be Willing to Trade Prospects for Established Players
You did it with C.C. Sabathia, but why not since? How have Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley panned out for the Indians? That's what I thought. There may be a couple of prospects you prefer not to part with and that's understandable, but keep an open mind. If certain players become available, you should be willing to consider making Brett Lawrie, Jake Odorizzi, Amaury Rivas or Jeremy Jeffress available in a deal. A young veteran with a proven track record is worth much more than a couple of top prospects. You need to not only realize that, but be willing to make it happen when the right deal comes along. Even if one of those prospects becomes a really good player for someone else, you still have the player you wanted and he's helping the team right now.
Don't Overvalue Mediocre Talent in the Free Agent Market
Did you overpay for Randy Wolf last year? Probably, but at least he's been relatively durable and consistently pitched a lot of innings. He has had six seasons of 30 plus starts and five seasons throwing 200 plus innings. His career ERA is more than respectable at 4.13.
Now on the other hand take a guy like Jorge de la Rosa. He has been touted by many as being in the next tier of pitchers in this free agent class after Cliff Lee. The former Brewer has had one season of 30 plus starts and the most innings he has ever pitched in a season is 185. Don't even entertain the idea Mr. Melvin. He's an average pitcher at best. You've had enough of those. You need to do better.
Seriously Consider Trading Rickie Weeks
This may be an unpopular idea to many, but hear me out. Yes he is a unique player, but he has significant flaws in his game, his free agency is fast approaching, and his injury history is significant. Those lasers he hits all over the field have a tendency to obscure the fact that a contract extension could be quite dangerous to the franchise.
Rickie has only played more than 130 games in a season one time which was in 2010. He struck out 184 times last season good for third in the National League. He did improve turning the double play and led the league in put outs. Unfortunately he was third in the N.L. in errors for second basemen and his fielding percentage of .980 was eighth. His fielding is still an adventure. I still cringe every time a ball is hit his way.I have a feeling you do as well.
Despite those shortcomings, his trade value may never be higher than it is right now, and his unique skill set is bound to interest a number of teams. At least dangle that carrot out there. There are at least 13 teams in need of a quality second baseman. Eric Farris, Brett Lawrie and Cutter Dykstra are all stacked up in the Brewer's system just waiting for their chance. You have options.
Build a Balanced and Competent Bench
You might want to have both right-handed and left-handed hitters on your bench this year. Maybe it's just me, but that seems to make sense. It's also imperative to have seasoned veterans on the bench that have been there and done that. Some players who make sense include Eric Hinske, David Eckstein, Reed Johnson, Gerald Laird and Ty Wiggington. All of them can still play and aren't going to kill you if they have to start for period of time. I'm sure you recall just how productive Jody Gerut, Brad Nelson, Chris Duffy and Trent Durrington were. Don't go there again. Brandon Boggs and Chris Dickerson are NOT the kind of players you should be looking for.
The Bottom Line
This Brewers team will not fix itself. That's why you have your job. It may be helpful to keep this letter with you wherever you go. You never know when someone might give you a call. Better yet lay it down on your desk, give it a once over and dial some digits. Who knows? Something good may actually happen.