The aggressive moves made by Doug Melvin in the 2010 offseason opened a window of contention through 2012. Prior to that he went all in to end Milwaukee's playoff drought in 2008. The man knows how to build a playoff team and, given enough time, he will bring Octoberfest back to Milwaukee. For the time being the Brewers' window of contention has closed, but it's not exactly nailed shut. The biggest issue facing the Brewers is not a hopeless dearth of talent, but the two teams currently sitting on top of the NL Central. The strength of the Cardinals and Reds is why I believe Melvin should start playing for 2014 and beyond.
When you look up in the NL Central it quickly becomes apparent how far behind the Brewers are in the race. The hateable St. Louis Cardinals have been carving up NL batters with the four-headed monster of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia, and newcomer Shelby Miller. This quartet also happens to be locked down the through at least 2015, so there's that. Their offense, while not spectacular, is a dependable source of runs that should be good for a while.
The more likeable Cincinnati Reds have a starting rotation that's not far behind the Cardinals'. Johnny Cueto is a Cy Young contender when healthy, and duo of Mat Latos and Homer Bailey provide above-average depth to the rotation. Let's not forget about the potential superstar they have in Tony Cingrani or the terrifying Aroldis Chapman who effectively shortens games to eight innings. Along with pitching depth, the Reds have a trio in Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce that can make any offense respectable regardless of who else is in the lineup.
This brings me back to the Brew Crew. The rotation of the Brewers is not even in the same conversation of the Cardinals and Reds, nor is it even being held in the same house. To be optimistic, Wily Peralta and Hiram Burgos could develop into decent starters, but they could just as easily fizzle into post-2007 Livan Hernandez. The offense has Ryan Braun, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Carlos Gomez together through at least 2016. However, Aramis Ramizez and Norichika Aoki will be free agents after 2014 and Corey Hart is a free agent after this season. Elsewhere, Rickie Weeks has forgotten how to play baseball, so getting a new second baseman should be high on Doug Melvin's to-do list. Another elephant in the room is a farm system current without a top 100 prospect or the type of impact players that fueled the Brewers' late 00s resurgence.
The problems facing the Brewers are glaring and difficult to fix. In some areas they cannot be fixed because they involve rosters of other teams. I fully support Doug Melvin giving up on 2013 and playing for the future; in fact, I hope he does this. In terms of rebuilding the Brewers are in a somewhat advantageous position considering they have enough players to form a core and enough assets to flip for prospects or otherwise fill holes on the roster.
Melvin guided the Brewers to the playoffs after 26 years in the wilderness and three years later built an even better playoff team. I'm confident that Melvin can work his magic...just not this year.