Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008

Baseball Armageddon?

By Nicole
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The question that's been plaguing me ever since the Brewers started their off-season trades and moves is why the prevailing attitude seems to be that it's "Now Or Never" for this team.

As far as I could tell, this NON attitude was nowhere to be found last season. The season was a complete and utter surprise. Braun was a bit of a miracle, Prince was a boon and really 1 win was a success and anything above and beyond we were just grateful to have.

Even at the end of last season, when we were all frustrated with Yost, disappointed with the way the team played and desperately hoping we could eek out a playoff appearance, all the buzz was tempered by this prevailing opinion that the team had far out-performed expectations and therefore we shouldn't look at the September slump as the team failing, but instead that was the Brewers being the Brewers and we should just be grateful for whatever days were spent in first place. We were constantly reminded how young the team was and that this was still a team being built.

Somewhere between Tony Gwynn Jr's double against the Padres and Spring Training, that mentality seems to have completely shifted.

We brought in some players that, while being clearly good players, are a bit of a risk. We signed both Gagne and Cameron to one year deals.

In the off-season, whenever discussing trades or moves or the upcoming season, GM Doug Melvin consistently made it seem as though it is the fans that are pushing this NON strategy. He has said that we won't settle and that we want results and he has used the excuse multiple times to explain this NON philosophy.

But that's not the vibe that I've gotten from the entire Brewer fan community. This is an extremely young and talented team and I can't imagine that anyone, especially management, would be happy if the team wasn't improving year after year. But this is a Brewers team that hadn't finished above .500 in my lifetime. So we took that step last year, but does that mean this year we should be talking World Series? I'm not saying baby steps, but it seems like an awfully big hop.

Is there a time frame on this team? Absolutely! There is probably a 3-5 year window in which this team has to perform. I do understand that our current crop of guys isn't under contract from that long and in terms of this specific cadre of talent, we're talking this year or next. But I worry about the plan that says we HAVE to win this year or else.

I understand that we have talent and that the talent isn't assured to be here in the coming years, but I feel like this is a young team with a very volatile and unpredictable pitching staff. It's an awful lot of pressure to put on a team who's average age is below 30. It's so much build-up. What happens if we don't meet it? Isn't that a lot to put on the heads of the young players?

Ug, dealing with this team is like being in a bad relationship. I'm seriously afraid to commit too much to this team because I'm fairly certain it's going to end in some serious disappointment, heartbreak and crushing defeat.

And I'm making excuses for them.

I am just seriously worried that by putting all our eggs in this year's basket, we're setting ourselves up for some serious disappointment and I'm thinking ahead to how that will effect the psyche of this team in 2009.

Hell, we've all seen the ridiculous crash and burn that is Derrick Turnbow when the game gets in his head. If he can collapse that easy by the mere pressure of inherited runners, what's going to happen to a team that has the potential to be labeled biggest letdown of the 2008 season.

Plus, I just have a problem with this ONE year business. This team has been built for years through drafts and the farm system. It took more than one year to get to this point. Did we really put all that scouting, coaching and effort into them to get one great season out of them?

Brewer fans are sick of the one and done that's happened every 25 years or so around here. We don't want just one division or conference or league championship. There has been so much thought and time put into developing Rickie and Ryan and Corey and Prince and Tony and Bill and all these young guys into the spectacular team we have now. We built a team for the long run and now we've completely switched courses and are fielding a team for one brief blaze of glory.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it. But I plan on being a Brewer fan for years to come, championship or no. I wish this team was planning on being the team this city deserves for years to come.

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