If you are Mark Attanasio you’ve got to be wondering whether it’s time to make one of the toughest decisions an owner ever has to make.
He’s got a baseball team that is, at least so far, the worst one in the major leagues. They have a game or two of some pretty good play, but they have always fallen back into losing ways.
It seems as if Attanasio three alternatives:
He can hope that the team he has will turn around and become a good baseball team with new manager Craig Counsell at the helm. In other words, do nothing more.
He can change Doug Melvin, who built this team, and who is the only general manager who has worked under Attanasio.
He could pull the plug and start all over from the beginning.
Let's get Sunday's firing of manager Ron Roenicke, not very surprising, out of the way first.
"I had to look at this over the past 100 games, and the lack of winning that we've had," said Melvin, in a statement. "At that point, I felt we weren't playing consistent enough baseball, and recently here, the last few games [as the Brewers won three of four], I don't know why this couldn't have happened earlier, but whatever.
"He was disappointed, but Ron is a professional. He's done good work here in the past. It basically comes down to the losses in the last 100 games."
I vote for the third alternative, with or without Melvin, and here’s why.
The Brewers are not the kind of team that can spend huge dollars in the free agent market to build a team. They have to do it through the farm system with an occasional free agent signing when the time is right (i.e. when they are in a pennant race).
Most experts (anyone who knows more than I do about baseball, which is pretty much everyone) say that the Brewers’ farm system is somewhere between the bottom and the middle of the pack.
There are apparently some possible pretty good potential major leaguers like outfielder Tyrone Taylor and pitchers Taylor Jungmann, Devin Williams and Taylor Williams. But the fact is that the Brewers need more and better prospects. And they have the opportunity to get them staring them right in the face.
Attanasio can hold a news conference and pick a new target for his team. He can say that the Brewers have a plan to rebuild with an eye toward being a contended four years down the line.
And then stage a fire sale. Peddle off the expensive veterans for prospects – good prospects. Announce your intention to build a farm system that can be the envy of the major leagues.
Start to get rid of the names that can bring good prospects in return. Of course, you need to decide if anyone is untouchable and if so, who those players are.
The list of players you want to keep around for that pennant drive four years from now is a short one.
I think you could make a case to keep Jean Segura and Scooter Gennett and Martin Maldonado. I’d give some thought to Wily Peralta and Will Smith. After that, I’m not so sure.
The best pitchers on this team aren’t going to be around four years from now, with the exceptions of Smith and Peralta.
That leaves the rest of the roster as fair game to dangle in front of other teams. Some of the players on the block could be tantalizing.
Jonathan Lucroy should draw a lot of attention. Adam Lind and Aramis Ramirez (who is eying retirement this year) and Khris Davis, as well as Carlos Gomez could be valuable commodities, especially after the all-star break when teams begin to recognize their opportunities for post-season berths.
The biggest question, perhaps, is what to do about Ryan Braun.
In 2011 the Brewers signed Braun to a huge extension that keeps him with the club through 2020 and includes a no-trade clause.
"It was solely a function of making sure that we can always build a competitive team around Ryan. Period. End of story," Attanasio said at the time.
Well, a lot has happened since that time and my guess is that Braun might not stand in the way of a trade to a team that was in contention. Plus, the concept of Braun being the "face of the franchise" is one that is long gone.
But I think there is still plenty of talent in his tank and enough cachet that he could bring in a pile of prospects.
One factor to try and weigh into this entire scheme is what the reaction would be of fans. Would they get on board with the plan and show patience as the Brewers try to totally restructure? Or would their patience grow thin and they consider abandoning the team?
All questions that are have to be factored into whatever Attanasio decides to do. The one answer that seems to be all but certain is that doing nothing just won’t do.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.