From Spring Training: Brewers Could be Sacrificing their Future to Win Now

Winning 17 of their last 20 games the Milwaukee Brewers are racing out to a huge lead in the National League Central with a lead of 8.5 games.The last time the Brewers won their division title was in 1982, when they were a part of the American League East and they had the likes of Rollie Fingers, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and Cecil Cooper on their team.

The only time they have been to the playoffs since 1982 is in 2008 when they won the National League Wild Card; the year they made the deal for CC Sabathia.  It was a quick exit for them however after they lost in 4 games to the eventual World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

They remained competitive in 2009 and 2010 finishing third in the National League Central both years.

But in 2011 they are already one win shy of matching their 2010 win total, of 77 games, with 34 games remaining in the regular season.  With a 8.5 game lead and a magic number of 25 on August, 22 the Brewers faithful are already making plans for the postseason.

Regardless of how this year finishes the Brewers organization is not in the best of shape.  They have spent many resources in their farm system on bringing in talent to compete now the last few seasons.

In 2008 the Brewers made these trades:

Sent: Received-From:
Rob Bryson (RHP, 31st Rd Pick 2006 Amateur Draft by MIL)
Zach Jackson (LHP, 1st Rd Pick 2004 Amateur Draft by TOR)
Matt LaPorta (1B, 7th Overall Pick 2007 Amateur Draft by MIL)
Michael Brantley (OF, 7th Rd Pick 2005 Amateur Draft by MIL)
CC Sabathia (LHP, 11-2 in 17 starts with MIL)-CLE
Steve Hammond (LHP, 6th Rd Pick Amateur Draft by MIL)
Darren Ford (OF, 18th Rd Pick Amateur Draft by MIL)
Ray Durham (2B, 41 games with MIL)-SF
Then in 2009 they did this:
Sent: Received-From:
Eric Fryer (C, 10th Rd Pick Amateur Draft by MIL) Chase Wright (LHP, 22-24 in minors & zero MLB appearances with MIL)-NYY
Tony Gwynn Jr. (OF, 2nd Rd Pick Amateur Draft by MIL & 347 MLB games played since trade.) Jody Gerut (OF, .224avg in 117 games with the Brewers)-SD
Roque Mercedes (RHP, FA Signing by MIL)
Cole Gillespie (OF, 3rd Rd Pick Amateur Draft by MIL)
Felípe López (IF, 82 games with the Brewers)-ARZ
Vinny Rottino (LF/3B, FA Signing by MIL in 2003) Claudio Vargas (4.78 ERA in 74g with MIL)-LAD
Bill Hall (3B/SS/OF, 6th Rd Pick 1998 Amateur Draft by MIL & 278g since trade) Ruben Flores (No MLB experience)-SEA
J.J. Hardy (SS, 2nd Rd Pick 2001 Amateur Draft by MIL & .767OPS in 195g since trade) Carlos Gómez (.652 OPS in 178g since trade)-MIN
Followed by this in 2010 and 2011:
Sent: Received-From:
Matt Treanor (C, 147 Major League Games Played since Trade.) Ray Olmedo (SS/2B, Zero Major League Games Played since Trade.)-TEX
Jim Edmonds (OF, 13g with Reds to finish 2010 season.) Chris Dickerson (OF, .535 OPS to finish the 2010 season.)-CIN
Carlos Villanueva (RHP, 4.24 ERA in 2011 with TOR.) Cash
Brett Lawrie (3B, 16th Overall Pick 2008 Amateur Draft & .983 OPS in 16g since 2011 call-up.) Shaun Marcum (RHP, 11-3 in 2011 with Brewers.)-TOR
Jake Ordorizzi Minor (RHP, 32nd Overall Pick 2008 Amateur Draft by MIL.)
Lorenzo Cain (OF, .348 OBP in 147 at-bats with Royals in 2011.)
Alcides Escobar (SS, 18 SB with Royals in 2011.)
Jeremy Jeffress (RHP, 16th Overall Pick 2006 Amateur Draft by MIL.)
Yuniesky Betancourt (SS, .277 OBP in 2011 with MIL.)-KC
Zack Greinke (RHP, 12-4 in 2011 with MIL.)-KC
Chris Dickerson (OF, .321 average with NYY since trade.) Sergio Mitre (RHP, 3.27 ERA in 33 innings with MIL)-NYY
Cutter Dykstra (Hitter, 22 years old.)
Nyjer Morgan (.350 OBP with MIL since trade)-WSH
Jeremy Reed (OF, 30 years old.) Future Considerations
Francisco Rodríguez (RHP, 3.52 ERA since trade.) 2 players to be named.-NYM
Erik Komatsu (23 year old hitter.) Jerry Hairston Jr. (.292 OBP with MIL since trade.)-WSN
In order to improve now they have given up a decent amount of prospects and in the coming years we are going to see how well they will be able to “Rebuild their farm”.2011 Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Affiliates (Thru 8/21/11)

Tm Lg Lev PitchAge R/G W L W-L% ERA
DSL Brewers DOSL FRk 18.5 4.08 44 27 .620 3.40
Nashville Sounds PCL AAA 27.4 4.73 65 64 .504 4.34
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers MIDW A 22.1 4.48 61 64 .488 4.04
Huntsville Stars SOUL AA 23.9 4.52 59 66 .472 4.09
Helena Brewers PION Rk 22.2 5.47 25 34 .424 4.59
Brevard County Manatees FLOR A+ 22.4 5.16 52 72 .419 4.74
AZL Brewers ARIZ Rk 21.6 6.27 14 35 .286 4.96
Affiliate Totals 4.83 320 362 .469 4.28
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/22/2011.

Considering Prince Fielder is going to be a free agent at the end of the 2011 season, it appears the Brewers are trying to go all in this season because they are not sure if their big bat will be back in 2012.

Fielder’s ideal position is a Designated-Hitter in the American League as well because his lack of range playing first base.  Therefore it is even more likely that he will move to a new team.  With Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun needing larger long contracts it is going to be nearly impossible to keep those two and Fielder.

Rebuilding might take some time considering Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospects list has zero Milwaukee Brewers.  These trades and poor Player Development looks to me personally like the Brewers could possibly struggle in the coming years.

Related Readings:
Where Are They Now: The Zack Greinke Trade By:  Jim Breen
Milwaukee Brewers’ win-now plan is working By:  Lacy Lusk
Breaking down the Top 50 Prospects list By:  Jonathan Mayo
Mid-Season Farm System Reports: NL Central By:  Bradley O’Neill
Milwaukee Brewers 2011 Top 20 PRE-SEASON Prospects in Review By:  John Sickels
Free-agent-to-be Prince Fielder talks DHing
Milwaukee Brewers-Cot’s Contracts

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