The best Milwaukee Brewers baseball team of the Mark Attanasio ownership era is the 2011 team that made it to the NLCS. The most fun and important team, however, is the 2008 team that started it all.
The 2008 season was a blast. It was Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart (kind of), and otherworldly outings from CC Sabathia. They won the Wild Card on the last game of the season against the Cubs, thanks to a home run from Ryan Braun and some unparalleled bed-shitting on behalf of a Mets team that blew a sizable lead in the season’s final month. In making the playoffs, the Brewers broke a 26-year postseason drought that day and we’ll always remember them for that—even if they were quickly ousted by the Phillies
Nine years later and the Brewers are in another playoff drought and it’s terrible. Six years!
After the highs of 2008 and 2011, the team tried to continue to compete, but always failed. The Brewers embarked on a long and painful rebuild—two whole years!—and now find themselves in the same place they were in 2008: on the cusp of something special.
However, this young and inexperienced Brewers team that has just one played from the 2008 team on its roster might find a way to mess things up. Even though they’ve been fading of late and there’s some reason to believe this unexpectedly hot start will cool down the stretch, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five things the Milwaukee Brewers must do to make the playoffs again.
1. Keep Ryan Braun healthy
Despite playing in less than half of the team’s games, Ryan Braun is fifth on the team’s home run leaderboard, and he holds a .872 OPS. A healthy Braun is still an elite hitter who takes this offense to another level when he’s in the lineup. It’s a good thing they didn’t trade him.
2. Fix Eric Thames
Thames started the year on an absolute tear. He was the story of baseball, a lock for Comeback Player Of The Year honors, and a dark horse MVP candidate. Then, May and June happened.
As so often happens in baseball, the league figured out a weakness and exploited it. Thames needed to adjust and take advantage of their adjustment. It’s still early, but it’s looking like this God-like masher is doing just that and he’s looked really good this month. That said, there is still something we need to fix about Eric Thames: his at-bat music.
Currently, Thames is using something called “Atlas, Rise!” by Metallica. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a Metallica song off a Metallica album that came out in 2016. Did you know there was a Metallica album released in 2016? Does Metallica know? Did he get this album off Napster? Does he know they have other songs? Has he ever heard “Creeping Death”? “Battery”? “Enter Sandman”? That one with Ja-Rule?
When adjusting for the general athlete’s musical taste, the song is an fine choice for most players. But for a guy who has a Korean cheer song written about him? He must be some kind of monster. Fix it, Eric. Or you will be unforgiven. Time to reload.
3. Don’t do anything stupid
Attanasio has made a few proclamations that the team will be buyers at the trade deadline. He wants to win. He thinks they should go for it, even if his GM is telling him they aren’t going to go for it. At least not like “trade away Michael Brantley and two other lofty prospects for three months of CC Sabathia” go for it.
If he wasn’t super rich and the owner of the team, he’d be the guy calling into sports talk radio and pitching ridiculous trade scenarios. “Do you think the Red Sox would trade Chris Sale and Mookie Betts for Zach Davies? I think the Brewers should ask!”
Don’t listen to him. This year’s Brewers team is good, but Lewis Brinson and others could be a part of the next great one. They don’t want to lose someone potentially important down the line for a rental today.
4. But do something
Though selling pieces from a possibly dynasty is unwise, this team needs to do something at the deadline. Nab a reliever, a starter, or pretty much with an arm that throws pitches good. The Brewers are coming off three consecutive losses in which they had the lead and the bullpen blew it. That’s bad. Very bad.
The Brewers have a logjam of outfield prospects like Brett Phillips and Kyle Wren who are ideal for a trade. They have no path to regular playing time in Milwaukee, but they deserve a shot on a big league club. Trade them to someone who will give it to them and get some pitching, please.
5. Let the Cubs do what they’re going to
Every projection system in the world had the Cubs as one of the best teams in baseball. They were a huge favorite in Vegas and were expected to challenge the Dodgers for the best record in baseball. They are going to do good things before this season is out.
After a fairly slow and disappointing first half, Chicago is in the midst of a six-game winning streak that saw them move from 5.5 games out of first place in the National League Central to 1.5 games back. That is not good for Milwaukee, but that’s the way things go. The Cubs are going to do what the Cubs are going to do. As long as Milwaukee stays ahead of Chicago in the standings, what the Cubs do doesn’t define the Brewers season one bit. The Brewers just need to keep doing what works. Score a lot of runs and hope for the best. If they can keep playing like they’ve played all season the postseason drought will finally end. Hallelujah!