Here's an interesting (and fun-to-read) article about the problems the Brewers are facing this offseason. As much as I and others have presented the Brewers as a good example for the Pirates franchise, a dose of reality is in order. Their core of young stars burst onto the scene about as brightly as anyone could have hoped a couple years ago, but now they're getting expensive quickly. When they were trying to contend, they signed a number of players (Jeff Suppan in particular) to contracts that now would be mildly annoying to a team like the Mets or the Cubs, but are a big problem for the Brewers. Several of their core players (J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall, Corey Hart) stalled after putting in a couple of good seasons, and now Milwaukee is pondering life without them. Ben Sheets is now a free agent. The back of the Brewers' rotation is uninspiring at best. They don't really have a catcher. Without major changes, they're probably hoping just to play .500 ball next year.
They haven't been run perfectly. The Suppan contract was a terrible idea from the start, for example. But for a team to get as much right as the Brewers have the past five years and still be struggling seems unfair. They've added significant value to Major League Baseball as a whole by developing stars like Sheets, Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Braun. They've also spent relatively lavishly for a team in their situation. And they're still floundering.
It's not right. The Pirates have no one but themselves to blame for most of their current problems, but that could change in a few years. And even if Neal Huntington's plans work well, the Pirates will still probably looking at the Brewers' last few seasons--a couple of winning seasons, maybe a playoff appearance. For those things to happen would obviously be great, in a way, but that hardly seems like enough.