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Milwaukee eyeing multiple paths to playoffs

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Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Monday, July 17, 2017

There was a time not that long ago when it appeared the only playoff path for the Milwaukee Brewers would be to win the NL Central Division. Now that Colorado has backtracked and the Brewers have surged, the wild card also is in play.

With a 5-2 loss Sunday to Philadelphia, the Brewers dropped to 52-42 with a 4 1/2-game lead over the Cubs, who finished a sweep in Baltimore. The Rockies whipped the Mets, 13-4, to improve to 53-41, one game behind Arizona for the NL wild-card lead.

With both scenarios in play, you have to figure the Brewers will try to make a move for an established starting pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline.

“That’s mathematically correct,” principal owner Mark Attanasio said of the dual path. “There are all kinds of websites with probability scenarios. We run our own. I always looked at the math of it and felt the wild card was in play for us even though there was a period of time when it wasn’t.

“We know this is going to be a focused two weeks.”

Attanasio confirmed the Brewers were in on left-hander Jose Quintana before the White Sox traded him to the Cubs for a package of top prospects. Attanasio provided no details of the Brewers’ offer, but the price of an established starting pitcher with control beyond 2017 was established in that swap.

The Brewers have done a tremendous job of building a deep farm system by trading away veterans during their rebuilding process and are not inclined to tear it apart to any significant extent to acquire a pitcher, though they have keen interest in Oakland’s Sonny Gray.

“There’s an old saying, ‘Be careful what you wish for because you may get it,’” Attanasio said. “If you love your prospects too much, maybe that’s an issue, also.

“We have to make the right move, either way. The CC (Sabathia) trade at the deadline (in 2008) was impactful for us. There were other moves that weren’t as impactful. We have to make the right decision.”

Asked if the competitor in him made it tempting to counter the Cubs’ move with Quintana, Attanasio said, “Maybe it’s being here 13 seasons or the confidence I have in (general manager) David (Stearns) and the process we’ve put in place, but I’m surprised how much it doesn’t.

“We have to do the right thing here. You don’t know what that is because it’s a dynamic process, not a static process. There are other teams. And, by the way, there are games to be played. So, between now and the trade deadline, teams that think they’re not sellers could become sellers.

“It’s a dynamic process. You can’t forecast for that. And a lot of false information gets put out there. In any auction, you only need two bidders. You don’t need 12 bidders.”

Beyond the Brewers’ interest in Gray, one report indicated they also have monitored Toronto lefty J.A. Happ. And, coincidentally, special assistant Gord Ash, who monitors baseball happenings in Toronto, was at Miller Park on Sunday to meet with decision makers.

In the meantime, Attanasio—who has confessed in the past to living and dying with his club on a daily basis—is trying to enjoy his club’s surprising first-place standing. The Brewers weren’t expected to be this good at this stage of their rebuild and Attanasio says you can stress too much on the standings at this point.

“Jimmy Nelson commented that, looking back at 2014, we were all hanging on the standings too much (as the team faded badly from first place),” Attanasio said. “You can drive yourself crazy with it. We’re trying not to do that.

“(Manager) Craig (Counsell) was saying the other day we can’t get too uptight and just be hanging on (to the standings each day). And he looked at me and said, ‘This means you, too!’ I think that’s right.

“You see the guys are really loose. One of the things he’s going to try to do is keep the guys loose.”



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