I've been called overly optimistic in the past but I don't see it that way. I go where the numbers point me. Last year the Brewers hot start made it more likely they would make the postseason than not. At least at certain points. It took an unprecedented collapse of historic proportions to knock them out of the Wild Card spot. No one could have reasonably expected that to happen and so if anything, that was an unrealistic expectation. This year is different.
At the time of writing this the Brewers are 8-18. Since the second wild card was incorporated the lowest win total for that spot has been 88 games. The Brewers would have to win 80 of their last 136 to reach that mark. That's a win percentage of .58. To make that less abstract, that win pct over a whole season would equal 95 wins. That's one off the franchise record from 2011. This team is far better than they've performed (no team is a .300 team) but they're not that good.
It really sucks that we have to accept that this early in the season but we really probably should. As a fan, the hope is always to reach the postseason so when that becomes this unlikely it is frustrating and can make some of us incredibly angry. We fall into the habit of just complaining and not enjoying anything because "What's the point?" I get that. I'm upset too. But there are still things one can find enjoyable and there are things that we can focus on to keep our interest for the rest of the season.
Focus more on individual performance
Even the worst team has elements that are good. Sometimes elite. The Brewers definitely have that. In the early going Adam Lind and Jean Segura have been hot. They're a lot of fun to watch, especially Segura. So many people wrote him off after last year forgetting how young and inexperienced he was.
Jimmy Nelson has (mostly) been a revelation. His curve ball came out of nowhere and I'm not sure who is more surprised just how effective it's been: Me or major league batters! Regardless of how the team is doing I'm always excited to see him pitch and to see if he can further improve his stock. It's pretty exciting because he could very well be the best pitching prospect since Yovani Gallardo and that's not taking anything away from Wily Peralta.
Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun are off to poor starts but that's going to turn around. Enjoy that when it happens. And remember for some of these players it's the last time we'll see them in Brewers uniforms.
Just tell yourself it's one step closer to the No. 1 overall pick in 2016
I won't mince words. Losing sucks. I'm not advocating you root for the Brewers to lose nor am I saying that you shouldn't get angry or bummed. But maybe try to keep your mellow. Because it is true: Every loss helps propel the Brewers to a better draft pick.
If you're not familiar the draft order is set in reverse of the previous season's win totals. So the team that has the worst record gets the number 1 draft pick. They also get the first pick in each round so it's not like a lot of fantasy drafts that use a rotating "snake" order. Which I actually think would make more sense and be more fair and therefore not encouraging tanking for prospects as much but that's completely different conversation.
So at least you can try to find some consolation in that fact. I'll admit this can have a double edged sword effect though. Back in 2013 when I held this mentality I actually found myself getting a little miffed when the would win games. It's a strange feeling so I guess a secondary point here is to understand that even the worst teams still win around 60+ games a year. So don't get angry when the Brewers win either! ;)
Take some time to follow some prospects and learn about the farm system
The Brewers farm system ranks somewhere in the bottom third of farm systems but that does not mean there aren't good prospects. Orlando Arcia might be a Top 25 prospect. In some publications Tyrone Taylor is a Top 100 prospect. Guys like Luis Sardinas, Yadiel Rivera, Clint Coulter, Victor Roache, Michael Reed, Dustin DeMuth, Ty Wagner, Brooks Hall, etc are off to hot starts and that can be fun to track.
I would caution against getting to worked up (positively or negatively) based solely on statistics. They can be deceiving sometimes and there could be a lot of contributing factors in play not the least of which is luck. To be clear, I am not at all saying you should throw the stats away. At a certain point a prospect needs to hit. But you should seek out scouting reports where you can.
SB Nation's own Minor League Ball is a good place to start. So is FanGraphs which isn't limited to prospects. Those are free sites. If you're willing to spend a little bit you can get subscriptions to ESPN Insider, Baseball Prospectus, and/or Baseball America. I have subs to the first two and I very much enjoy them.
Pro tip: Often you can find discounts for the ESPN Insider. I got two years for $10 though I don't remember where. Sorry. Though I see offers for discounts all the time.
You could also get a subscription to MiLB.TV. I have one this year for the first time and I'm really digging it. Unfortunately to date they haven't had any games from Brevard County and not every game for the other affiliates is available. It seems to depend on the ball park. Maybe other factors too. The other problem is that the stream quality isn't the greatest for many of them. It's only $50 for a whole season and they do archive games which is nice. There might even be discounts for mid-season subs. I don't know for sure.
Go ahead and dream about your perfect trade scenarios but don't get too attached
The Brewers are giving some mixed signals. Mark Attanasio says he's ready to make the hard decisions and if he decides retool/remodel/rebuild is the right thing to do he'll do it. Then he tells Craig Counsell his job is to win and they'll wait on the rebuild to see if the team can win. Some of this is likely posturing and we can't expect them to be completely transparent. They will start winning (as I said even the worst team ever is as bad as .300) but they're not making the postseason so I'd put real money on them selling at the deadline. The question is how much will they sell.
For the last several years I've noticed a trend which I dubbed "Compete Rebuild" and if they continue to follow that model Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy aren't going anywhere, but that could change. They have a real opportunity to infuse massive talent into the farm which could drastically reduce the time over which a rebuild would take place. Maybe that ability to rebuild quickly will spur the Brewers to take action they've never really taken before.
So yeah, it's okay to dream about that. And to fantasize about what they might get for guys they're much more likely to trade like Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Rodriguez, Gerardo Parra, Adam Lind, and Jean Segura.
I know I have come up with some fantasy transactions myself: Trade Lucroy + Garza + Francisco Rodriguez to the Dodgers for Corey Seager + Grant Holmes + a 45 grade prospect; Trade Gomez + Segura to the Mets for Noah Syndergaard + Kevin Palwecki + a 45 grade prospect; Trade Aramis Ramirez + Jonathan Broxton + Gerardo Parra for whatever the best package you can get it. Use the money saved to splurge on an ace SP and BAM! you're contending again next year. Woo! I mean, it'll never happen but it's fun to think about.
Just keep in mind it's possible the Brewers won't trade some of these guys either by choice or because they simply can't. Even the ones they do trade might not be traded for the prospects you or I want. That's okay though. They're actually out there scouting these players while we just read about them from home or watch them via low quality streams online. The Brewers found Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura via trade so we should probably trust them more than ourselves. And their new scouting director Ray Montgomery gets nothing but high praise from everyone that has an opinion on such things. Which brings me to my next point.
Get hyped for the upcoming Rule 4 Draft
I've written about the draft order before so you should re-read that if you want a more in depth primer. The basics to know are that the Brewers have 4 picks in the top 100 (15, 40, 55, 90) and thanks to their additional pick via the draft lottery they have the 8th largest draft pool. Depending on strategy and position of your first round pick the size of your overall draft pool and be the most important factor.
All the sites that I mentioned above are covering the draft and Brew Crew Ball will have some content as well in the coming week. The draft takes place over 3 days starting on June 8th so we're pretty close and things are going to start heating up. Sites are coming out with their Top 100 lists and soon they'll have mock drafts up which can be fun.
This year's draft has been called rather weak but there are still interesting players. An unfortunate aspect that could potentially benefit teams drafting outside the top 10 are the injuries to players who were once considered potential No. 1 overall talents.
Brady Aiken and Michael Matuella suffered elbow injuries and had to have Tommy John surgery. Had that not happened those two would be fighting to be the first popped. Now it's possible both are available when the Brewers pick 15th overall. I don't know what their medicals will say about them and I don't know if the Brewers would take that risk regardless. But if they wanted to, the size of their draft pool should make it a possibility.
But I would again level the same warning as with trade scenarios: Don't get too attached to any draft prospect. There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that might compel a team to pass up your guy. For example, a lot of people were angry the Brewers didn't draft Jose Fernandez in 2011 but he told clubs if any team besides the Marlins drafted him he would just go to college. That could very well have been code for "I'll sign with you but you're gonna have to pay me," but sometimes that's too much of a risk when you're talking about potentially not signing your first round draft pick.