The 2020 Milwaukee Brewers may have made the playoffs, but fielded an offense that could be considered historically bad and were promptly disposed from the postseason by the best team in baseball.
It was a challenging year in a lot of ways, both on the field and off, but in short — the Brewers weren’t good enough.
Despite concern from some portions of the fanbase that the front office would take a postseason appearance as a sign not much has to change, that is not the tone David Stearns took in his end-of-season postmortem today. He’s agreeing that this is not what he wanted to see and using those exact words — not good enough.
Stearns touched on a lot of topics, but there were a couple big themes:
- He’s not happy with the inconsistency, specifically from the offense
- First base and third base were the biggest problems
Stearns says he was also unhappy with inconsistency and underperformance on areas of the roster and there is a need to remedy those.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) October 5, 2020
Stearns is asked about the offense. "It wasn't good enough. That's the reality, and we have to work backward off of that."— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) October 5, 2020
The starting point has to be discovering the "why."
Divisionally, pretty much every team struggled with the bats and there was good pitching.
But there was also a third theme — there may not be a lot of money available this offseason to make those improvements.
David Stearns, asked whether the player payroll budget will be tighter in 2021: "I think it's a possibility."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 5, 2020
Stearns is asked about finances, and if he knows if/when he might be able to set about making the changes. Simply put, it's too early to say at this point because of the uncertainy of COVID-19.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) October 5, 2020
Stearns says after having the two highest payrolls in club history the past two seasons, it's uncertain the Brewers will be able to do that again in 2021 considering the drop in revenue without ticket sales.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) October 5, 2020
As our good friend Rubie pointed out on Twitter, using a full-season total to say this was one of the highest payrolls in team history is pretty blatantly misleading.
That’s not hyperbole.
Sportrac has the Brewers’ total 2020 payroll at about $103 million had everyone been paid what they should have been paid over a full season. Of course, that didn’t happen, as players agreed to prorated salaries that drastically cut down the amount of money teams owed to their employees (before getting a big postseason payday). When you take those rates into consideration, the Brewers paid a little more than $39.9 million to their players this year.
There’s no doubt that a significant amount of potential profits were lost with no fans in the stands for the Brewers’ 30 home games, but it’s worth remembering that even after a year in which the Brewers ranked 5th in the NL in attendance, the decision was made to cut payroll. Of course, they turned around and made a long-term commitment to Christian Yelich, which is both a good thing and something that the team will continue to point to as limiting their spending for years to come.
On the topic of finances, Ryan Braun and his sure-to-be-declined $15 million option for next season came up during Stearns’ press conference. Stearns said he didn’t expect Braun to make a decision on playing next year until after the new year, which would seem to lend credence to the thought that the option won’t be picked up.
David Stearns expects Ryan Braun to wait until the New Year to make his decision about playing in 2021.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 5, 2020
If Braun decides he wants to keep playing, the two sides could come together on a cheaper deal. That, however, likely depends on whether the DH is here to stay in the NL.