The Brewers are rebuilding or contending, not both


It’s been no secret, unless you’ve been living under a rock, that the Milwaukee Brewers’ 2013 season hasn’t exactly panned out the way they wanted it to. The starting pitching has been rocky, injuries have plagued the team from the start of the season and they just look lost out on the field some nights.

Yet, do they have what it takes to make another miraculous try-hard run like in 2012 or should they focus on next year?

Nobody wants to see Aramis Ramirez go, but he very well could be gone by the end of July. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing that the Brewers need to establish, it’s that they’re either a rebuilding team or they have some plan to contend. This unfortunately isn’t a situation where you can get the best of both worlds, sorry Van Halen. Even last year, there were multiple rumors swirling around that Milwaukee was going to trade Corey Hart, but those soon faded away. Now, the reality of trading someone, more than likely Aramis Ramirez, remains a strong possibility this year. The only reason why the Brew Crew were sellers last year was because they simply knew they would be unable to afford Zack Greinke after the season. Now this year it’s just selling a player to hopefully get something in return to work with.

Aside from trades, the Brewers still have some questions to answer after the season. Will they re-sign Hart? When will Jean Segura be given a contract extension? Are they ready to test out some Triple-A players? All these signs point to rebuilding, which isn’t bad, but it definitely assures the fans that this team isn’t going to be in the upper echelon of the National League for awhile and that’s fine. Time will tell how this plays out, but if the Brewers continue to try and balance both issues, they’re going end up in a worse spot.

Hypothetically, let’s say the team trades Ramirez and lets Hart walk. The one person I see taking over at first isn’t Mat Gamel, but Hunter Morris. Is this necessarily the right option? Yes and no. A lot of people will argue that one year in Triple-A isn’t enough for the 24-year old, but I disagree. This season, Morris is hitting .243/.325/.490 with 13 homers and 33 RBIs. Now while the average is a little suspect, Morris is someone who eventually the team was going to focus on and trying him out certainly couldn’t hurt. If Morris isn’t ready, then the Brewers can stick Juan Francisco at first base and possibly Scooter Gennett at third base. It’s not perfect, but sometimes you have to work with what you have.

Jean Segura is a player than any team would want to build around. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In all honesty, it looks like the Brewers are in more of a rebuilding phase than anything. Contending is a nice idea sure, but realistically when the team is 12 games below .500 in the middle of June without your everyday first baseman, a starting rotation needing some serious duct tape and WD-40 and just the uncertainty of what’s to come, it doesn’t add up to what playoff teams have. Sure, look at the Oakland Athletics who won the American League West last year even though they had a ton of rookies on their roster throughout the season, but that’s been a long time coming there. Unfortunately Milwaukee hasn’t run into the same luck that Billy Beane‘s Athletics did.

Rebuilding isn’t all that bad, especially when there’s a core four of Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy to build around. If Gennett can continue to make an impact at second base, then he’s going to be a part of a solid Milwaukee team in the next few years. They have the talent to work with, especially in the pitching department with guys like Jimmy Nelson, Johnny Hellweg and the eventual Taylor Jungmann. There’s a lot that the Brewers have to play with and it’s just the matter of accepting that they won’t contend, but rather rebuild to be that dominant perennial force in the NL Central.

The only way this team is going to fall on its face is if they try to mix rebuilding and contending. Clearly this season, the call-ups of Scooter Gennett, Josh Prince, Khris Davis, Caleb Gindl, Hiram Burgos and from last year Wily Peralta, show that this is a team building on youth. With the youth, the team is going to lack in certain areas, such as experience, so to me, this says that if the team is bringing up all these rookies, they know 2013 is just another year without playoff life.

Talk of rebuilding isn’t a bad idea, especially for a team that knows they just may need that extra little push to get back into October baseball. Two years ago this is a team that was in the National League Championship Series and was dangerously close to making the playoffs last year. Milwaukee has the talent to get to where they need to be, it’s just a matter if they can execute their game plan without over working it first.