The Brewers entered Tuesday with a 21-35 record, the worst in the NL Central and third-worst in baseball. Their pitching staff -- 4.63 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, the third- and fourth-worst marks in the game, respectively -- has undermined a solid offensive attack. Milwaukee has won just seven of its last 31 games.
Unsurprisingly, there is already plenty of speculation the team could be sellers at the trade deadline. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo and third baseman Aramis Ramirez would have definite value to contenders, and there would surely be interest in righty relievers John Axford, Jim Henderson and Burke Badenhop.
GM Doug Melvin wouldn't use the term "seller" while talking to Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel recently, but he did acknowledge the team will not look for quick fixes and instead build for the future at the deadline.
"If we make any more trades this year, it's going to be for two or three years from now instead of now," said Melvin. "I'm not going to be trading any young players to win games."
Despite their record, the Brewers have a strong young position-player core. Ryan Braun remains one of the best hitters in baseball, and both center fielder Carlos Gomez (3.2 WAR) and shortstop Jean Segura (2.6 WAR) have broken out this season. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy is rock solid and signed affordably through 2016.
There is not much to see in the rotation, though, as only the injured Kyle Lohse sports a sub-5.00 ERA. The Brewers signed the 34-year-old to a three-year contract near the end of spring training, forfeiting their first-round pick in the process. Before the season, Baseball America ranked their system just the 23rd best in the game.
Melvin shook things up a tiny bit Monday, acquiring Juan Francisco from the Braves and calling up top second base prospect Scooter Gennett. Francisco provides third-base protection in case Ramirez is moved and Gennett figures to take at-bats away from the disappointing Rickie Weeks (66 OPS+). Still, many more changes are needed.
Owner Mark Attanasio has been very willing to open his wallet to improve the team in recent years, so that willingness to spend combined with the already strong position player core means a rebuild shouldn't take forever. If Melvin can turn Ramirez, Weeks, Gallardo and others into quality pitchers, the Brewers could be right back in the thick of the NL Central race within a year or two.