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Brewers excited, but face key roster decisions

Cain, Yelich acquisitions form crowded outfield; will club add starting pitcher?
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers won the month of January, but manager Craig Counsell made the point that it is much more important to win April, May, June, July, August and September. If they are good enough, the Brewers will try to win some of October, too.

Counsell was among the club officials to bring perspective to the Brewers' otherwise giddy "On Deck" in downtown Milwaukee late last month, where fans and players buzzed about the back-to-back acquisitions of outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich just days earlier. Those additions -- Cain via the richest free-agent contract in franchise history and Yelich via blockbuster trade -- signaled that owner Mark Attanasio and general manager David Stearns had been convinced to shift away from rebuilding toward a more urgent approach.

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers won the month of January, but manager Craig Counsell made the point that it is much more important to win April, May, June, July, August and September. If they are good enough, the Brewers will try to win some of October, too.

Counsell was among the club officials to bring perspective to the Brewers' otherwise giddy "On Deck" in downtown Milwaukee late last month, where fans and players buzzed about the back-to-back acquisitions of outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich just days earlier. Those additions -- Cain via the richest free-agent contract in franchise history and Yelich via blockbuster trade -- signaled that owner Mark Attanasio and general manager David Stearns had been convinced to shift away from rebuilding toward a more urgent approach.

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The question that had loomed over their quiet offseason -- Would the Brewers wait another year or two or go for it now? -- finally had an answer.

"I had a big birthday last year, and Craig sent me this great magnum of Pinot Noir. I told him to send one to David," Attanasio said. "But Craig reminded me we still have to win some games. So, we still have to go out and have this all come together. Then, we'll see how fast the progress is going."

Video: Stearns joins High Heat to discuss Cain's signing

Said Stearns: "We recognize this is good for the organization, but we also recognize that we need to win games. … We'll feel pride when we win games."

Stearns is almost certain to make more additions to the Brewers' roster before Opening Day, mixing another layer of intrigue to what is shaping into the team's most fascinating Spring Training in memory.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Typically, a team reports to camp with a few questions at the back of the starting rotation, bullpen and bench. This year, Stearns and Counsell face a series of decisions at the top of the roster. Add a prominent starting pitcher or stay put? How will Cain, Yelich, Ryan Braun and Domingo Santana, not to mention rising rookie Brett Phillips and 20-homer, 20-steal Keon Broxton, coexist in the outfield if there are no additional moves? If that logjam is eased by Braun playing some first base, what becomes of the productive duo of Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar already in place?

Then there is second base to settle, the bullpen to sort out and the certainty of medical matters forcing adjustments before Opening Day.

As the calendar turned to February, much was unanswered. But the Brewers' vision was clear.

Video: MLB Tonight evaluates Brewers' active offseason

"I think there's excitement. If you tell me, 'One word,' that's the one word," Counsell said. "There's excitement about what we've added over the course of the winter.

"And one of the things that's obvious to me about this winter in baseball is we think that at this point teams are set; rosters are set and clubs are set. But there are so many players unsigned that we're in the middle of the winter right now as far as roster construction for the industry. There's still a lot left to happen."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers