Today's Brewers problems and tomorrow's tough calls--who should make 'em?
Remember Jack Zduriencik?
Astute Brewers fans know he's the team's former scouting director--hired in 1999--who found much of the young talent that turned the team into a contender. His discoveries, as well as those of his underlings, paved the way to the success the team would enjoy in recent years even after Zdriencik left for Seattle.
Then there's now.
A spectacular piece with a daunting title- -"The Rise And Fall Of The Milwaukee Brewers"- -popped up on Grantland.com this week (memo to self: bookmark that site NOW). Writer Jonah Keri outlines what the team once was before Zdriencik got here, how he stocked it's minor league pool full of prospects on his watch, and how the team allowed its minor league cupboard to grow bare as unexpected injuries mounted, leaving Milwaukee at a crossroads as it tries climbing out of the hole that is the 2013 season.
Keri says pitching is the biggest issue--provided Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez return healthy and Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Nori Aoki and Jonathan Lucroy hold pace/continue to improve. It's the lack of arms, both on the roster and on the farm, that's the sticking point. How to proceed? Keri says it's a topic owner Mark Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin have to decide as the trade deadline approaches.
The brass could blow the team up and start over but that's not really a Milwaukee luxury. The team's TV deal isn't a cash cow and doesn't give the franchise e the luxury of sweating out a few bad seasons played out in front of scads of empty seats. Think three million fans are going to fill Miller Park to watch the likes of what we're seeing this season for the next couple of years? The team needs the turnstiles to sing to stay afloat, plain and simple.
Those are the options. This is the new reality. Zdriencik's wisdom brought the Brewers talent. Melvin's deals helped flesh in missing pieces that put Milwaukee into the postseason but the moves came at a price--lots of good minor leaguers left the system. Toss in '13's bad luck and here you are: a team that might come dangerously close to being only the second in franchise history to log 100 losses in a single season.
Should heads roll? Let the coach-killers and anxious fans of sports talk radio make the call for skulls on fence posts. Melvin and manager Ron Roenicke didn't suddenly become idiots. They're sound baseball people who have to live with bad circumstance and the consequences of past rolls of the dice. My money is on the same folks who got the team ever-so-close to a World Series to make the right calls to put the Brewers back in that same spot--sooner rather than later.