The final three weeks of the season was a roller-coaster ride for the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans.
First, it appeared as though the Brewers' 25-year playoff drought would continue for another season. Then came some wins and the struggling Mets—suddenly the two were tied for the NL wild card on the season's final day.
Ryan Braun hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning in that final game to lift the Brewers to victory over the hated Chicago Cubs. A half hour later, the Marlins defeated the Mets at Shea Stadium and Milwaukee's playoff drought was finally over.
The Philadelphia Phillies made sure the Brewers weren't on the field for long, though. The Phillies knocked out the Brew Crew in four games and showed little sign of struggle along the way.
Many questions need to be answered by owner Mark Attanasio and General Manager Doug Melvin this winter. Some will come easy while others will be as difficult as the road to the playoffs was for Milwaukee.
It's Time for Ben Sheets to Leave Milwaukee...and for CC Sabathia to Stay
The majority of Brewers fans have slowly begun to see the proverbial light.
It is clear Sabathia is the more reliable pitcher, as was shown during the playoff stretch. Sabathia probably would have pitched every day if his body would have let him, but his starts every three outings surely played a pivotal role in Milwaukee's playoff berth.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Sheets actually wants to stay in Milwaukee. His statements after the season-ending loss to Philadelphia made it seem as though Sheets was ready for a change of scenery.
"To me, it really don’t matter," Sheets said in an article on the Green Bay Press-Gazette website. "This is a good team, but I’m not going to worry about where I end up. It’s going to play out. I’m going to be somewhere. As long as I put on a big league uniform."
After eight injury-riddled seasons, it is time Sheets packs his bags and brings his up-and-down pitching to another team.
The Interim Tag on Dale Sveum's Interim Manager Title Should Be Dropped
When Ned Yost was fired on Sept. 15, it was a shock to most in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, including Dale Sveum. After getting over the initial shock, the former third-base coach took hold of the Brewers team and led them to the playoffs.
While that is one reason Sveum should retain his position, it surely isn't the only reason.
Familiarity is key and the young Brewers are familiar with Sveum. Rapid change is not going to keep Milwaukee's young stars heading in the right direction—a new manager in Milwaukee would be such a change.
Sveum is also experienced. He won a World Series as a member of the 1998 New York Yankees and as the third-base coach for the 2004 Boston Red Sox. He has managed on multiple levels of professional baseball and is ready to take the reigns of a major league team.
Milwaukee's Roster Needs a Shake-Up
Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and J.J. Hardy are among some of the names that are untouchable in a possible Milwaukee shake-up. But the Brewers are in need for solidarity at second and third base. After his showing in the crucial months of the season, Corey Hart needs to be replaced in right field.
Players like Brad Wilkerson or Gabe Kapler would come at a reasonable price for a mid-market team like the Brewers and could provide an upgrade over Hart in the field and at the plate.
Joe Crede could be a possible target for the hole-to-be at third base. Orlando Hudson could be a high-end possibility at second.
And in the event of the Brewers' inability to sign Sheets or Sabathia, a splash on the free-agent market is required.
The likes of Jon Garland, Oliver Perez, and Randy Wolf should be players Attanasio and Melvin pursue, no matter how the negotiations with Sheets and Sabathia play out.
All of these signings, of course, are contingent on the players hitting the free-agent market before re-signing with their current teams.
Just a Little More Patience Is Necessary in Milwaukee
The young players showed flashes of brilliance. The team, as a whole, showed what they could go from April into August. And that taste of the postseason is going to provide a higher level of motivation for everyone on the Brewers' roster.
The Milwaukee Brewers showed what they were capable of in 2008. What level of success is possible in 2009 depends on how 2008 ends in Milwaukee. This is a crucial time for this team, and the offseason moves that are or aren't made will indicate which direction this ballclub will head.