If you re-build it (well), they will come.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 the Brewers were 73-58 and lead their division. They had just blown out the San Diego Padres 10-1 the night before. Everything seemed to be clicking.
The Brewers wouldn’t win another game until Friday, September 5th, 2014 against St. Louis. Their record dropped to 74-67, and they limped to an 82-80 finish.
When Doug Melvin convinced Mark Attanasio to stay the course in 2015, I cautiously credited the Brewers given the larger sample size of success in 14. I was never the biggest Roenicke fan–and I’ll never forgive him for starting Mark Kotsay in CF in the postseason–but I felt he had a good command in the clubhouse.
But on May 3rd, 2015, with the Brewers a disastrous 6-18, Ron Roenicke was fired.
The Brewers had seemingly reached rock-bottom for the first time since 2002.
And you know what, it was for the better.
Since taking over as owner, Mark Attanasio has wanted to remain competitive because he felt he owed it to the fans for coming out. And, by-and-large, they have been competitive. But, as the Milwaukee Bucks will tell you, being stuck between an almost playoff team and a lottery pick, is the definition of sports hell.
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By hitting rock-bottom, Mark Attanasio was forced to reevaluate his vision for the team. After years of picking in the mid-to-late 1st round, giving up a 1st to sign Kyle Lohse, and selling off prospects to win, the Brewers farm and major league teams were depleted of depth.
Enter, David Stearns.
With his hire of Stearns, Attanasio signaled a shift in philosophy. This isn’t to say that Attanasio’s previous philosophy wasn’t successful in its own right, but if the Brewers are going to remain competitive with the likes of the Cardinals, Cubs, and Pirates in the division, they have to start from the ground up.
Stearns has continued the rebuilding process that Doug Melvin started, and Doug should get credit for starting that process (not to mention the haul he got). We won’t know for a few years if the trades David Stearns is making will be successful, but his moves have been almost universally lauded. The Brewers’ farm system is now back in the discussion for the best in all of the baseball. And while the farm club is doing well, the major league team is going to struggle.
I’m sure this wasn’t easy for Attanasio to do–he worries about attendance numbers–but I believe Brewers fans will still show up because they believe in the rebuild and overall direction.
We’ve been through this before and ultimately, I believe, if you rebuild it (well), they will come.
We’re certainly off to a good start.