The Milwaukee Brewers were very, very, very, very bad in April. Very bad. In no time it all, it seemed like we went from the Brewers being a sleeper contender to being the worst team in baseball. After a few weeks, it seemed like we could be certain that Milwaukee was not going to be a good baseball team in 2015.
As quickly the Brewers kicked off the off-season by acquiring Adam Lind to solidify the offense, they started the season on the verge of being big-time sellers. The organization has reportedly told teams they are willing to sell. They fired their manager. They don't have many big financial commitments in the coming years. It seems like as good a time as ever for a retooling effort.
Except but what if the Brewers aren't as bad as they were in April? What if they can still be a good team, and maybe somehow turn things around and get (back?) into contention?
The Brewers have got themselves into this weird place where they started off so poorly -- 5-17 -- that there wasn't anything to do but write them off the rest of the season. Since then, though, they've won 8 out of 12 and have a three-game winning streak going. They won two series against the Cubs, drew a series with a World Series favorite Dodgers squad, and are looking for another series win against a Chicago team as they won their opener against the White Sox Monday night.
Which is more reactionary? Thinking they're done after the poor start or thinking they could still have a shot because they've started playing so much better? It's not just the records, either; watching the team it feels like there's been a noticeable shift in how the players have performed in the last two weeks.
Doug Melvin, though, is all of a sudden in a place where he can't necessarily make any big sweeping moves quite yet. A week or two ago, it would have been perfectly acceptable for him to trade players away because the Brewers looked so bad. Now, though, he needs to wait and see if this late hot stretch is an anomaly or something that can continue. The Brewers -- and most other teams -- seem to operate on the philosophy that if you could potentially win, you should try your damndest to do so.
The good news is that there's time to wait and see. It's May 12 and the trade deadline is 80 days away. That's over 11 weeks of baseball where they can analyze and see where the team will be before deciding to move pieces. Also 11 weeks where players like Kyle Lohse can, hopefully, regain some of the trade value they've lost with their early performances.
Still, it's going to take some doing to get the Brewers back into contention. To reach 90 wins, they'll have to post a 0.612 winning percentage the rest of the season. No Wild Card team since 1996 has had fewer than 88 wins, so that seems to be the mark for which the Brewers would have to shoot.
The Brewers are in a tenuous situation, though. We knew that at the beginning of the season, and we know it even better now. The starting pitching has been shaky and has no depth. The team relies heavily on home runs and awfully streaky players like Khris Davis. Gerardo Parra is a great fourth outfielder, but the rest of the bench is iffy.
The Brewers are also getting healthy again. Carlos Gomez is back and has looked better at the plate of late. Scooter Gennett is off the DL. Jonathan Lucroy should be back in the next two weeks. And Ryan Braun is actually looking Ryan Braunish! Over his last 12 games, Braun is hitting .302/.423/.628 with four home runs.
But if one of those players doesn't hit like we know they're capable of or if Kyle Lohse and co. can't smooth out the ups and downs the pitching staff has faced, or if there's another key injury or if or if or if or if or if,, then the Brewers aren't going anywhere this season. It's too big of a hole and they need to play exceptionally well moving forward to come back.
What helps is that the Brewers had an awful month to start the season. So if they do start playing better, they can make up for it gradually over the next few months; it doesn't all need to come at once. If the Brewers fell behind by nine or whatever games in August, they'd need a lot of luck and happenings to make up for it. They still need that, but they don't need it all to come at once.
Despite the current hot(tish?) stretch, any talk of the team still revolves around trades: Who will be available? What will they be looking for in return? How long will it be until they sell? The most likely outcome is that the Brewers contin
Unless the Brewers get one hell of a steal, though, they seem pretty likely to stand pat for the time being. They're playing better and maybe, just maybe, they can pick themselves off the death bed for one more go around. If not, they've still got over two months to sell off pieces. There's no need to rush just yet.