This has been a huge year for the Brewers not in the sense that the team has done well. Clearly they haven't. It's a huge year for the Brewers because they've made sweeping changes to the franchise. One could argue it started in the offseason when they traded Yovani Gallardo. They continued when Ron Roenicke was replaced by Craig Counsell. But things really went into motion when the Brewers traded Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez at the trade deadline.
Arguably biggest step was to replace Doug Melvin who had announced his plans to retire at season's end a few months ago. The general manager is really the driving force behind a franchise and is largely responsible for it's successes and failures. The search began in August and concluded earlier today with the announcement that David Stearns would take over as the Brewers next general manager on October 5th.
David Stearns is rather young compared to his peers though at 30 he is not the youngest general manager ever hired. Theo Epstein, Jon Daniels, and Andrew Friedman were all 28 when they became general managers. It is true that Stearns has never headed a department but rather been a member of front office teams. However that doesn't mean he lacks any experience.
He's been in baseball professionally for 8 years working with the Indians and Astros. He also worked in the office of the commissioner in the past. He even interned with the Pirates while in college. But it's his experience with the Astros that I think makes him perhaps the perfect candidate to take over the Brewers.
He was with Houston during their big rebuild and we see the success it has earned them as it is just starting to come to fruition. The Astros are a wild card team at the moment but they are just starting to get good again. More success should follow and Stearns was a big part of putting that together.
Whatever lack of experience he has should be mitigated by the experienced members of the Brewers around him. Doug Melvin will still be around to serve as an adviser of sorts. He's been in baseball for decades and should prove a useful asset in helping a young man like Stearns acclimate to his new role.
The Brewers also have in place a tremendously talented scouting director with Ray Montgomery. Many assumed, myself included, he would take over as general manager. He is as highly regarded as they come. Stearns doesn't have to worry about finding a competent scouting director because he already has one and that should ease the transition.
Craig Counsell could also help in that way. He is inexperienced as a team manager but he did serve 3 years as special assistant to Doug Melvin in various roles. Having an understanding of what happens in the front office should aid in the communication between manager and general manager. That's at least one roadblock that shouldn't exist for David Stearns which can only be helpful.
Having these two guys in place already was often talked about being an obstacle in hiring a new general manager. But I think it was actually a really savvy maneuver by Mark Attanasio because it frees David Stearns of those obligations. It allows him to focus on a plan of action to bring the Brewers back to contention instead.
As he is inexperienced as a general manager it very much remains to be seen what kind he will be. But I am encouraged by the Brewers hiring of David Stearns. Yeah he is young and one can view that negatively. But I think it says a lot about how talented he must be to have reached this lofty position at such an early age. I also find it encouraging that he has a group of talent people already in place around him that I think can only help get the best out of Stearns.
With this new higher and the already improving farm system I think things are looking on track for the Brewers. It took the Astros more than a few years to return to contention. Same for the Cubs when they started theirs. I believe the Brewers are in a better position than those two clubs were when they started their rebuild. Hopefully David Stearns is the right man for the job and hopefully that means we're not that far off from seeing the Brewers competitive again.