For those who wondered if the expectations of Milwaukee Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio’s have been raised by the unexpectedly solid showing of his first-place team, the answer is yes.
“I’ll admit my expectations are higher. How could they not be?” said Attanasio, who was at Miller Park on Friday to participate in the Wall of Honor ceremony for Corey Hart.
“This team plays with energy. The guys pick each other up. If we have a couple of bad games, we seem to finish out strong. The team seems to be quite resilient. So, sure, my expectations are greater but I think that affects how frustrated I get when things go against me. That’s not going to affect how we address the team.”
In other words, don’t look for the Brewers to scrap the long-term vision they have in rebuilding the club into a perennial contender. Thank in large part to the inability of the Chicago Cubs and others to put together a hot stretch, the Brewers have been in first place in the NL Central for much of the season while being only a few games over .500.
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Attanasio did say there have been discussions about whether the ahead-of-schedule success should change the way the Brewers go about their business.
“I had a meeting with (GM) David (Stearns) and (manager) Craig (Counsell) about a week ago, and I was very clear there would be no pressure from me to divert from the plan,” Attanasio said. “If they want to divert, that’s different.
“One of the things I challenge David and Craig with is whether we do anything different now that we’re in first place. From Craig’s standpoint, he said he’s out there every game, trying to win that game.
“David is always, especially for a younger person, agnostic in his decision making. He’s as agnostic as anyone who has ever worked with me, including on Wall Street, where he just wants to objectively assess the facts. That’s very hard to do but very helpful because he’s saying, ‘Let’s assess every day where we are. What the opportunities are.’
“If David wants to come to me and say, ‘I want to blow up the big plan,’ his batting average is so high now, we’re going to listen to anything he recommends. But, just from ownership to him, there has been no pressure to divert from the plan.”
As with any club in a contending position at this point of the season, the Brewers will see how things play out in the weeks leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. A hot stretch over that period sometimes convinces clubs to add talent. Cold streaks often prompt teams to sell off players.
The Brewers certainly aren’t going to start trading prospects for veterans to any extent at this point of their process, but they will remain open-minded.
“We have to take it a game at a time,” Attanasio said. “We’ll see where we are on July 31, where we are in mid-July.
“As someone said to me, the only thing that’s certain in baseball is uncertainty. We just have to come in and be smart every day. I think we’re going to assess things at the time we have to assess things.
One thing the Brewers’ competitive mode has done for Attanasio is validate that the personnel decisions to this point have been good ones.
“I think we feel we’re on the right path,” he said. “I said at the beginning of the year, we would look at things qualitatively, not quantitatively.
“We’ve seen progress in a lot of guys who took a step forward last year. That’s quite encouraging.”