Brewers chairman and principal owner Mark Attanasio fielded questions from season seatholders in a Q&A session earlier this week, and the team posted the full video online last Friday afternoon.
As is the case with most public appearances by team personnel, some of Attanasio’s answers consisted of vague statements. However, he did offer more specific responses to certain questions, meaning there are a few useful takeaways from the session.
Open dialogue throughout the organization is a priority
Matt Arnold has taken over David Stearns’ post as head of baseball operations, meaning the Brewers are in a transition process.
Arnold was Stearns’ right-hand man since the start of his tenure in 2015, so the process ought to be smoother and less dramatic than it would’ve been had Attanasio hired an outside name to replace Stearns. However, the Brewers are not taking the importance of communication for granted as they move forward under slightly different leadership.
Attanasio revealed that he, Arnold, and Craig Counsell have already met to discuss the team’s plans for 2023. Their goal is to ensure that all parties are on the same page and working toward the same goal moving forward.
That doesn’t mean they plan to operate within an echo chamber, though. Per Attanasio, the trio encourages disagreement and actively challenges each other during their discussions.
Thought these were some interesting comments from Mark Attanasio. Communication to ensure everyone is working toward the same goal is a priority, but as part of that process, he's encouraging himself, Arnold, and Counsell to "challenge" each other. pic.twitter.com/wFFfhPAVDH— Jack Stern (@baseball7310) November 5, 2022
The Brewers think highly of their farm system
It’s not surprising that the owner of an organization spoke positively of its minor-league talent, but Attanasio went one step further in his evaluation of the Brewers’ best prospects.
Our Top 10 is probably as good as it’s been in 18 seasons. That goes back to the Prince [Fielder/Ryan [Braun]-type guys as a group.
More specifically, Attanasio pointed to the speed of prospects Garrett Mitchell, Esteury Ruiz, and Sal Frelick, as well as the strong bat-to-ball skills of Frelick and Brice Turang.
Faith in these young players influenced Milwaukee’s approach at the trade deadline. Attanasio said that the Brewers had interest in several players, but they deemed the tradeoff of parting with their better prospects for shorter-term acquisitions as not worthwhile.
Mark A. on falling out of playoff position: (5/7) pic.twitter.com/oTnq53EnPC— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) November 4, 2022
The “bites of the apple” approach is here to stay
When asked directly about the team’s payroll situation, Attanasio refused to state outright that the Brewers have a constraint. Instead, he effectively said the same thing less directly, saying that each organization has a “financial reality.”
According to Attanasio, Milwaukee’s financial reality is that if they stretch their budget and operate in the red for too many years, they’ll enter an “abyss.” This presumably refers to an extended rebuild with low payrolls and non-competitive rosters.
Attanasio continued by reaffirming what Stearns had been saying since trading star reliever Josh Hader in August. The Brewers believe that once the playoffs begin, randomness and hot streaks determine the World Series winner more than which team is the best on paper.
As such, they expect that by reaching the postseason almost every year, they’ll eventually be the team that gets hot and catches the right breaks to win a championship. To build this open-ended competitive stretch, the Brewers are avoiding splashier moves that may help them in the immediate future but might put them in a tough spot a few years down the road.
Direct question from Keith in Pewaukee about if Attanasio has the financial resources to build a stronger playoff team:— Curt Hogg (@CyrtHogg) November 4, 2022
“Nobody wants to hear an owner say you have a constraint, so you’re not going to hear me say that. But every team has an economic reality.” pic.twitter.com/odNhHuY0rH
The Brewers want to win a World Series, and they believe that balancing short-term and long-term competitiveness is the best way to reach that goal.
Such a process will include controversial decisions. Some may perceive it as a lack of effort toward winning now. There is also a discussion to be had about whether the Brewers can break the mold by winning it all without a payroll in the top half of the league.
At the end of the day, the Brewers believe this is the best way to operate, and they’re sticking to the plan.