The Brewers young prospects were just making a splash on the Big League level. Corey Hart, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and JJ Hardy were to lead the next wave of Milwaukee baseball, with Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo stirring in the Minor Leagues, waiting for their call-up. 2
Flash forward to 2011.
Each of these core young players, minus, obviously, Hardy, have become stars for the Brewers. Each of them has made at least one All Star appearance, with Hart, Fielder, and Braun having been selected multiple times. They, with a little help from the left arm a man named CC, led the team to its first postseason appearance since 1982 in 2008. Now, they’re on an even better team with more talent and depth.
The 2008 NL Wild Card team was considered the best Brewers team in nearly 30 years until the calendar turned to 2011. Think about some of the changes that have taken place on the team;
Nyjer for Cameron. Betancourt for Hardy. McGehee for Hall. Axford for Torres. K-Rod for Gagne. Lopez for Durham. Lucroy for Kendall. Marcum, Greinke, Wolf, and Narveson for Sheets, Suppan, Bush, and Parra. The biggest one may be Roenicke for Yost.
The upgrades from the Wild Card team to the hopeful divison champion team are evident, and so is something else.
The time is now for the Brewers.
Let’s face it, Prince Fielder probably won’t be back next season without a gift from the baseball gods. Who knows if the team’s health will hold up or if their production will. Though the team shouldn’t fall into the cellar of the division next year, it is unlikely GM Doug Melvin can put together this kind of team again.
Melvin has shown that he is all in for this 2011 Brewers team. He’s traded away top prospects Brett Lawrie, Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, and Alcides Escobar to accumulate this current roster with acquisitions such as Greinke, Marcum, K-Rod, and Betancourt. The talent level on this team is immense, a statement even the most oblivious and pessimistic fan can’t deny.
Milwaukee fans are buying into the buzz surrounding their beloved club. Day of the week nor opposing team matter to the fans, as they come out and fill up the stadium with 40,000+ fans for every game. At a recent game against the Cardinals I attended, Betancourt received a standing ovation and gave a curtain call for a fifth inning go-ahead home run. Try telling me Milwaukee doesn’t have some of the best fans in baseball, I dare you. I’ll win that argument for sure.
The “young core” of players Melvin and the Brewers developed in the middle 2000’s is now paying dividends for the current Brewers. No longer are any of them works in progress. They are all legitimate threats, combining to form one legitimate threat to win the National League, a threat also known as the Milwaukee Brewers.