LOS ANGELES -- The question lingering at the back of the minds of the most optimistic Brewers fans has crossed owner Mark Attanasio's, too. What happens to the rebuilding plan if the team is still hanging around the National League Wild Card race in mid-July?The Brewers pulled to within three
LOS ANGELES -- The question lingering at the back of the minds of the most optimistic Brewers fans has crossed owner Mark Attanasio's, too. What happens to the rebuilding plan if the team is still hanging around the National League Wild Card race in mid-July?
The Brewers pulled to within three games of .500 and four games of the NL's second Wild Card before being swept decisively in San Francisco to start their current West Coast road trip. Even at 30-36 entering Thursday's series opener at Dodger Stadium, the Brewers had played ahead of most preseason expectations after dumping a slew of proven players in exchange for prospects over the past calendar year.
"One of the things I try to teach my sons about business, and you can even say this in games: You let the game come to you," Attanasio said. "We don't have to make that decision now. We'll see where we are at that point, and then we'll react."
Assuming they remain in sell mode, the Brewers have two of the most talked-about trade chips on the summer market in left fielder Ryan Braun and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, but Attanasio reported "very little" actual talk between GM David Stearns and counterparts with other clubs.
The non-waiver Trade Deadline this year is Aug. 1.
"If you look historically, [trade activity] has dragged later and later toward the Deadline, so it's early to be speculating," Attanasio said. "But media needs to provide content, and I think we happen to have Ryan and Luc performing at an All-Star level.
"We're not actively out shopping either of those guys. It's much ado about nothing so far."
Attanasio again made the case that the Brewers are not pressured to move either player, touting Lucroy's value in handling a young pitching staff, and the example Braun sets at the plate and particularly on the basepaths. Braun has about $80 million left on a contract that is guaranteed through 2020, but Stearns and former GM Doug Melvin already have moved enough salary in previous trades that the money is not a driving factor; the Brewers would be motivated to move Braun or Lucroy only by the young, controllable players they would receive in return.
Braun has the right to veto a trade to all but six teams: The Angels, Dodgers, D-backs, Giants, Padres and Marlins.
While that possibility simmers in the background, Attanasio said he has been enjoying the Brewers' play. Since clearing an 8-15 April, the Brewers are ninth of 30 Major League teams since May 1 with a 4.02 ERA and are tied with the Royals for 14th with a .738 OPS.
"I can't say we're too happy about the last three days," Attanasio said, referring to the three-game Giants sweep of the Brewers by a combined score of 24-8, "but on balance, the club has played ahead of my expectations to this point. The energy level these guys play with is very high. [Manager Craig] Counsell told me that virtually every game, he and the coaches feel that we're playing harder than the other team. …
"It's tangible. One of the reasons I like coming out is you can see it when you're in the ballpark. I can see how hard they are playing, and I can see when things don't go their way, how much it means to them. It's not like it doesn't matter. These guys care, and it's fun to watch."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.