During his decade-plus long run as the principal owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Mark Attanasio has developed a bit of a reputation for getting involved in player personnel decisions. The multiple K-Rod deals as well as the signings of both Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza had Attanasio’s fingerprints all over them. With that in mind, it seemed only natural that Mark A. was asked about how he’s approaching his current first-place ballclub as trade season nears. According to Adam McCalvy, Attanasio is staying out of those types of decisions this year and leaving the club’s direction fully in the hands of young GM David Stearns:
"Look, I'll admit my expectations are higher. How could they not be? This team plays with energy. Guys pick each other up. If we have a couple of bad games, we seem to finish out strong, to bounce back. The team seems to be quite resilient.”
"If David wants to come to me and say, 'I want to blow up the big plan,' you know, his batting average is so high now, we're going to listen to anything he recommends. But just from ownership to him, there has been no pressure to divert from the plan this season.”
Of course, just because the owner isn’t breathing down his neck doesn’t mean that Slingin’ Stearns won’t be motivated to look for available upgrades to the contending roster that he’s assembled. He has already said earlier this season that if the club is competing for a playoff spot, he would absolutely consider trading for a player if it is the prudent thing to do for the franchise. Stearns recognizes that things can change quickly in baseball, though, and has yet to commit one way or another to buying at the trade deadline:
"We're having those types of discussions right now. A month is still a long time in the baseball calendar, so we will continue to learn about our team over the next month, we will continue to learn about our division. Other teams will be doing the same thing."
Stearns hasn’t ever shied away from tinkering with his roster makeup during his time in Milwaukee, but we have to see how he’ll respond to going through a trade cycle while truly being in contention. We probably shouldn’t expect a real “all-in” move for an elite rental player (someone like J.D. Martinez or Yu Darvish would fit this bill), but it certainly seems like Stearns would be open to adding a player with multiple years of control at the right price that could strengthen the current contention window. No matter what sorts of moves Stearns ends up making, one thing we can ultimately be sure of is that it will all come down to the value he perceives to be coming and going:
"David is always, especially for a younger person, agnostic in his decision making. He's as agnostic as anyone who has ever worked with me, including on Wall Street, where he just wants to objectively assess the facts, and as things change you reassess. That's very hard to do but very healthy, because he's saying, 'Let's assess every day where we are, what the opportunities are.’ As someone said to me, the only thing that's certain in baseball is uncertainty. We just have to come in and be smart every day. I think we're going to assess things at the time we have to assess them. It's premature right now." - Mark Attanasio