Milwaukee (AP) — The Milwaukee Brewers have run their latest batch of seasons under the philosophy that they want to contend with it for as long as possible rather than go all in during a given season.
But a look at their roster suggests the championship window may not remain open for much longer.
The Brewers’ two best starting pitchers and the best returning player of them all could become free agents at the end of the 2024 season. Craig Counsell, the NL’s longest-serving manager, has a contract set to expire after this season.
That makes this season especially important as the Brewers seek the World Series berth that has eluded them since 1982. The Brewers are also trying to bounce back after they finished a game from last wild card spot in the NL last year, bringing an end to the franchise. Record streak of four consecutive playoff games.
The Brewers open the season Thursday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“Everything that happened in the past is in the past,” said 2021 Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes. We cannot dictate what will happen in the future. “Oh, you guys were on this run making the postseason,” which ended last year. It’s all about this year. It’s all about where we are and what we can do this year.”
Counsell takes issue with the notion that potential future Brewers roster issues should add to their sense of urgency this season. As far as he’s concerned, that drive should be there every year.
“If you’re a great player, you’re going to get 15 shots when you win the World Series,” said Consell. “So every season is a sacred season. Whatever the situation, you are very lucky to wear the uniform and have the chance to win the world championship, to spend great moments in front of thousands of fans with a group of friends and brothers.”
David Stearns, former president of baseball operations for the Brewers, has often talked about getting as many “pieces of the apple” as possible with the idea that several postseason innings increases their chances of finally winning it all.
How many opportunities the Brewers will have with this core remains uncertain.
The arbitration-eligible list of Brewers for one more season after this season includes Burns, two-time All-Star pitcher Brandon Woodruff and shortstop Willie Adams, who was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America in Milwaukee as the team’s MVP for each of the past two years.
Then there’s the case of Conseil, who is entering his ninth season and became the Brewers leader in managerial wins last year. Conseil said his uncertain contract status doesn’t make this season any different for him than any other.
Signs of change began around Milwaukee last year.
Stearns, the architect of Brewers teams that have secured four straight playoff bids, stepped down from his position as president of baseball operations in Oct. Matt Arnold who had been Stearns’ right-hand man during that run, has taken over.
One of Stearns’ recent major moves was sending four-time All-Star near Josh Hader to San Diego At last year’s trade deadline. Hader had another year of refereeing remaining at the time of the transition, the same situation that Burns, Woodruff, and Adams now find themselves in.
The Brewers dealt with Hader even though they were leading the NL Central at the time. If the Brewers are out of contention by the trade deadline, who’s to say they won’t be dealing with another top player?
“We can’t control what happens at the end of the year,” Burns said. “We can’t control what happens halfway through the year. What we can control is go out and play hard and play with the group the club has, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Brewers don’t want to worry about what might happen in the future. Not when they see so much hope in the present.
“I hope we stay together for the rest of our careers, because it’s a really fun group,” said Adames. “But, as you say, there’s a lot of motivation. Obviously we want to perform on the field and put up the numbers. But I feel like at the end of the day everyone has the same mentality to win the championship. So I think as players we just want to have fun, enjoy our time together and try to win.” Championship together.
Notes: RHP Adrian Houser will open the season on the list with a hip problem. Houser will likely miss three weeks, Consell said. … Counsell said utility driver Bryan Anderson can get plenty of playing time in right field early in the season. With Tyrone Taylor out at the start of the season with an elbow injury, the Brewers figure has outfielders including Christian Yelich at left, rookie Garrett Mitchell at quarterback and Anderson at right.
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