By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Sep 30, 2007 at 5:27 AM Photography: Allen Fredrickson

This one will probably hurt for a while.

The Brewers were close, oh so close, to making the playoffs. They spent more than 130 days in first place and then missed by just a couple games. It is difficult to digest, but in the grand scheme, things could have been a lot worse.

Before fretting over what to do with Geoff Jenkins, take a few moments to enjoy the fact that your team is no longer baseball's sick joke. No more will you hear the words "Milwaukee" and "longest streak of losing seasons" in the same breath.

Let a couple weeks pass before you try to rationalize an argument for manager Ned Yost to be fired. Like him or not, he was able get this team a lot farther than most of his predecessors. Is he perfect? No, but in all honesty, who else is out there?

There will be plenty of time to call for Derrick Turnbow to be dumped. For now, look at the roster and drool for a little bit. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart and yes, even Bill Hall are all very young, very, very good, and a few years away before free agency kicks in.

As painful, heart-wrenching, and gut-punching as the 2007 season may have been, it would be folly to say it wasn't fun. When was the last time Miller Park was rocking like it did this summer? The team set a record with 31 sellouts and set the franchise's all-time attendance record (2,869,144 to be exact). Admit it, it was fun.

Even down the stretch, when the playoffs were a fleeting hope, it was fun. Who can remember the last time they sat in a seat and watched the scoreboard for legitimate reasons, not to mention sat in a seat and watched a September baseball game that meant something to the home team?

There are definitive needs that have to be addressed, and it's a pretty solid wager that general manager Doug Melvin is already plotting a course of action. The aforementioned Jenkins situation is probably at the top of that list. The ongoing injury saga of pitcher Ben Sheets is worrisome, but he's going into a contract year.

Many would like to see him traded, but considering the lack of quality pitching in baseball; would you rather have Sheets pitching healthy for the Brewers for part of the season or against the Brewers for a full season?

The glut of underperforming outfielders will probably be settled soon. Jenkins has a $9 million option for 2008 but the Brewers are likely to exercise a $1 million dollar buyout clause instead. Kevin Mench's contract is up and he is eligible for arbitration. Bill Hall is under contract and is probably feeling pressure to produce with Tony Gwynn Jr. waiting in the wings.

Of course, middle relief is a very pressing concern. One of Melvin's talents is finding guys that have been discarded by other teams and turning them into big-time players for at least a year; a perfect alternative to spending big money on a guy that is only going to pitch an inning or two.

Lastly, there is Yost. The lightning rod for fan frustration since the team's 24-10 start and 8½-game lead in the Central were erased by the Cubs. Owner Mark Attanasio says the skipper will be back for his sixth season, but it's a safe bet that he will be on a short leash because of yet another second-half swoon.

These are the types of things that will play out over the course of the next five months. Worrying about your favorite team is one of the sadistic pleasures of being a fan, but it's not healthy to let those worries consume every minute of your time.

Off-seasons in Milwaukee have been terribly long over the last quarter-century. This one will be long and put a bitter taste in the collective mouths, but it will be for much different reasons. Just like spending the Brewers first meaningful season in recent memory by nitpicking every shortcoming and mistake was a waste of time and energy, spending all of the off-season angry about what could have been would bea fruitless endeavor.

With an 83-79 record, the Brewers didn't make the playoffs again this year. That's a shame. But would it be more enjoyable to enjoy one season of unexpected success like the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, or would it be more rewarding -- after everything Brewers fans have been through -- to continue this ascent to being a perennial championship contender?

That is something worth pondering during the winter.