11.5 games out of first place.

Those are the numbers Brewer fans were forced to endure this morning when opening their papers or looking online to see the current position of their favorite team.

After a 15-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, it’s clear that the Brewers won’t be sniffing the playoffs in 2010.

The problems for the Brewers start with their payroll. Of the team’s $90-plus million in player contracts for 2010, over $23 million of that is owed to players no longer with the team. It’s virtually impossible for a mid-market team to compete for the playoffs when a quarter of their payroll is dead money.

Brewers’ management called in all their major scouts to Milwaukee in order to determine if the team would be buyers or sellers in this year’s trade market. As optimistic as GM Doug Melvin and owner Mark Attanasio may like to be, there’s no doubt the Brewers need to come up with a new plan for success.

That means they must begin trading off some of their valued trading chips.

In fact, any player not named Braun, Gallardo, Escobar or Lucroy should be available via trade if the price is right. 

Ryan Braun’s name has been mentioned by some Giants’ beat writers as a trade target, but he has a full no-trade clause until after the 2011 season. Besides, the Giants wouldn’t liking be willing to give up Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, which is what the Brewers would desire to part with Braun.

Gallardo is the only consistent pitcher on the pitching staff this year. Even with his current stint on the disabled list, he is still slated as the team’s ace for the next several years.

Alcides Escobar and Jonathan Lucroy may be going through some rough times, but that is normal for rookies. Having a good shortstop and catcher for the next six years are key components for any team looking for sustained success.

Obviously Prince Fielder and Corey Hart are the top candidates that could bring a lot of talent back to Milwaukee. While Fielder could bring the largest haul, he isn’t likely to be sent packing until this winter.

Hart has received interest recently from almost every team currently in the playoff hunt. The Giants and Braves have shown the most interest, and both have the young pitching that the Brewers are sorely missing on their roster at the moment.

The Brewers have some good, young talent, both on their 25-man roster and in the minors. Getting a look at these players should be the Brewers’ top priority for the remainder of the 2010 season.

Lorenzo Cain, a speedy outfielder, was just promoted to Triple A. With Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun, Cain would be a third of one of the fastest outfields in baseball. Cain’s defensive prowess will also help improve the struggling pitching staff.

Brett Lawrie, the team’s top draft pick in the 2008, is having a banner season in Double A. Lawrie won’t turn 21 until January, and could play any position needed on the Brewers. His bat is already Major League-ready, he just needs the opportunity to get the call to Milwaukee. 

In addition to Hart and Fielder, Trevor Hoffman, Jim Edmonds, Craig Counselland Dave Bush are all legitimate possibilities to be traded before the July 31 deadline.

Each could help a contender down the stretch. Although they wouldn’t bring back the talent of a Fielder or Hart, they could still strengthen the team’s minor league system for 2011 and beyond. 

The Brewers have enough talent that other teams are looking at. They will need to get rid of some of it in order to rebuild a team that made the playoffs just two seasons ago.

A philosophical change must be made by the management if it is going to do that. The Brewers need to shift away from a power team and incorporate more “small ball” in order to achieve greater success.

The Brewers had their run of success over the past few seasons, but now is the moment for Melvin and Attanasio to realize that time has passed for the current batch of Brewers.

If that means trading away Fielder, Hart, Rickie Weeks, and more, then it needs to be done in order for the Brewers to compete in the coming years. 


To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here

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