I have the misfortune of being a Milwaukee Bucks fan. Save for one season in 2001, the Bucks have wallowed in mediocrity for most of my life. One reason for this is while they are often bad, they are rarely bad enough. The NBA is constructed in such a way that tanking can pay off. It’s near impossible to contend for a title without a superstar, and superstars are generally drafted in the top five picks.
Yet, under the ownership of Herb Kohl, the Bucks refuse to tank. This year is a prime example. With an injured Andrew Bogut, the Bucks were sitting pretty with the fifth worst record in the NBA and a struggling team. Instead of building for the future, they made win-now moves, which was good enough to get them to ninth in the Eastern Conference and the 12th overall pick. Once again this season, they look to be patching things together for another season around .500 rather than rebuilding for the future. Awful. It’s a good thing I’m not nearly as big of a Bucks fan as I am for the Brewers.
So what do the Brewers have to do with the Bucks? Nothing, really, but the comparison can be made. It is time for the Brewers to invest in their future rather than this season, or even next season. Therefore, I’m now openly hoping the team loses for the next few weeks.
It’s not for the same reason I root for the Bucks to lose, because it has nothing to do with obtaining a higher draft pick. The MLB draft is much more of a crapshoot anyway, way too much for tanking to be a good strategy. No, I’m rooting for the Brewers to keep losing in order to protect them from themselves. I want there to be no doubt in Doug Melvin’s mind–or perhaps more importantly, Mark Attanasio’s–that the team should sell.
Even though things weren’t looking good, for weeks I kept the attitude of, “Well, they still could come back. They still have a 20-whatever percent chance.” Well, Baseball Prospectus now has that down to just a 6.3% chance at the postseason, the bullpen is in shambles, and in direct contrast to last season, the Brewers seem to find creative ways to lose games.
I was fine riding out this season and hoping for another playoff run. I actually thought they had a decent chance, and when you have a real chance, you need to go for it. However, they got hit hard with injuries, and the bullpen has been much worse than Doug Melvin probably ever imagined. It happens, and it’s not the end of the world. With all the impending free agents, next year’s team is going to look a lot different. My hope is that the team doesn’t take the patchwork approach of the Bucks and instead looks toward the future.
Things would have been entirely different if the Brewers could have signed Zack Greinke earlier this year. It’s entirely possible that the Matt Cain contract extension changed the course of the Brewers’ franchise. Before that deal, we were looking at $85-95 million as a hopeful extension for Greinke. I remember hoping they could keep it at $100 million or under. Now, there’s no chance of that.
Greinke is just a few months away from the open market, where he is very likely to exceed Cain’s deal. I am not even comfortable with the Brewers giving a pitcher Cain money, much less more than that, so I consider Greinke as good as gone.
Without Greinke next year, it’s hard to see the Brewers making a playoff run. And if they don’t have a real chance next year, why not overlook next season in order to increase their chances in 2014 and beyond? Trading not only Greinke, but Marcum (PLEASE GET HEALTHY SOON), Hart, Morgan, K-Rod, Axford, Aoki, or anyone else they can get good value for shouldn’t be off the table.
This would be a tough sell to Mark Attanasio, who needs to run a business and wants to continue drawing fans. That’s why I’m hoping the Brewers force his hand. If they’re 8+ games back around the trade deadline, it will be an easier sell.
Since I see that as beneficial for the franchise overall, I am rooting for them to lose. It feels strange, but honestly, it makes the games a lot less stressful. I still watch, and I’ll still go to games, but it’s nice not to get so frustrated by a team that would otherwise frustrate the hell out of me.
It shouldn’t be much longer now. By this time in 2008, CC Sabathia was a Brewer. Buyers are likely preparing their offers now. There have been reports of the Brewers scouting the Rangers’ and Braves’ minor league teams, so you have to think there has been plenty of dialogue between the Brewers and contending teams.
All we need now is for them to keep losing and push a deal over the edge.