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Break Up the Brewers

Before the season began, some people (such as myself) expected the Milwaukee Brewers to at least give the St. Louis Cardinals a fight for the National League Central title. It wasn’t hard to look at an offense that featured Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks as one that could put runs on the board, and there were enough arms on the pitching staff that I liked to think that they could outscore the opponents on most nights.

It hasn’t happened. After losing last night, their seventh consecutive defeat, the Brewers stand at 15-23, seven games behind the first place Reds and six and a half games behind the Cardinals. They are one of only five teams in baseball with a winning percentage below .400. They are certainly better than they’ve played, but, at this point, the hole may be too large for them to climb out of.

With 124 games to play, assuming that they’ll need to win 92 games to give themselves a good chance of winning the NL Central or the Wild Card, they would have to play .621 baseball the rest of the way to make that happen. As much as I like some of the players on this roster, I don’t think anyone can realistically expect the Brewers to win 62 percent of their remaining games.

There’s also the problem of the Reds. It’s one thing to be trying to run down just the Cardinals, but when you add a second team to the mix, you limit the chance that you’ll win by default, as your competitors fall by the wayside. With just one team to overcome, there’s a chance that they could face serious injury issues or have a prolonged slump of their own, but that is far less likely to occur to both St. Louis and Cincinnati simultaneously.

Realistically, the playoff chances for the Brewers appear slim for 2010, and with that reality staring them in the face, it’s probably time for them to put Prince Fielder on the trading block. Ryan Howard‘s crazy extension only served to make it even less appealing for the Brewers to attempt to re-sign their slugging first baseman, and with his 2010 value being diluted by his teammates’ poor play, it makes the most sense to deal him this summer.

It’s not the outcome that Milwaukee had in mind when they put this roster together, and they do have enough talent to right the ship and get back to a winning record, but they are far enough back in the NL Central where its getting to be time to change directions. Six weeks of bad baseball can sink a season, and in the case of the Brewers, it probably has.