Because I live in Iowa, the great dead zone of Major League Baseball (seriously, I've been blacked out from watching 62 of 229 games (29.9 percent) on MLB.TV this year so far), I haven't gotten to watch the Milwaukee Brewers much. They claim part of Iowa as their turf, as do five other teams, so I'm out of luck. From what I understand, however, they may be doing me a favor in 2015. At 2-13, they have the worst record in all of MLB and their best two players are on the disabled list.
Carlos Gomez went down on Monday of last week with a strained hamstring. With his incredible defensive range and above average hitting, Gomez has actually been one of the most valuable players in baseball over the past two seasons. While he's taking batting practice and responding well to treatment, Gomez is still at least a couple weeks away from contributing.
A week later, Jonathan Lucroy was hit with a foul tip and broke a toe on his right foot bad enough that he will be out another 4-6 weeks himself. Lucroy has made himself into an incredible offensive catcher over the past three years, making him a perennial MVP candidate and one of the most underrated players in the National League. Plus, the more we learn about the value of framing pitches, the more Lucroy, who is a wizard behind the plate, sees his value soar.
Scooter Gennett, who was counted on to hold down second base, also got snake bit, slicing his hand open in the team shower and requiring stitches. He's also on the disabled list and will be out for at least two weeks. In their stead, the Brewers will turn to Gerardo Parra, a defensive wizard in the outfield corners who is stretched in center, Martin Maldonado, a textbook backup catcher, and Hector Gomez, who (if I'm being honest) I didn't know was a professional baseball player until yesterday. Anything this trio of players give the Brewers above replacement level is a hearty bonus.
Milwaukee is 14th in runs scored and 15th in runs allowed. The lone bright spots on their club have been the hot starts of Jean Segura and Adam Lind, and the rise of Jeremy Jeffress as a reliable option out of the bullpen. Aramis Ramirez is talking about retiring after the season, Kyle Lohse is a free agent after this year, and both Gomez and Lind can walk after 2016.
With the club in this big a hole already, and with their best two position players out, I wonder how early is too early to start thinking about 2016 and beyond. To this point, Brewers GM Doug Melvin has done a fine job staving off the rebuild. He found a gem in Gomez, stole Lind from Toronto, and has generally fared well bringing in mid-range pitchers like Lohse and Matt Garza. Segura wound up being a great get for half a season of Zack Greinke. Even the Ramirez contract has worked out far better than anyone would have anticipated. He kept the Brewers largely relevant in the NL Central for a full decade. Still, time and market size may have caught up with the club, as Ramirez and Ryan Braun scuffle, Lohse's velocity drops, and Yovani Gallardo pitches for the Rangers. The Brewers have been willing to make bold decisions to keep their window open. Maybe now it's time to make the bold move to close it.