COMMENTARY | In Brewer country, it's starting to feel like ages ago since the magical 2011 season in which the Milwaukee Brewers nearly played themselves into the World Series.
The team's roster has steadily leaked talent and now looks ill-prepared to legitimately compete in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs in 2013.
It's rarely enjoyable for a team and its fans to endure a rebuilding process, but that appears to be the precise road on which the Brewers have embarked upon -- voluntarily or otherwise.
Having cleaned out their stable of young talent to beef up the team for a deep playoff run peaking in 2011, the Brewers' franchise now feels a bit like a fading boom town -- glimmers of a richer past intertwined with expectations for a decline.
Gone is the effective, though understated, pitching rotation -- one that possessed just enough experience and guile to keep the Brewers within reach before the team's offense claimed the day.
Left behind are several dynamic players, but by no means a complete team.
As the team's close media partners are quick to point out, the Brewers remain strong up the middle -- they have an effective catcher, a dynamic prospect at shortstop, and a rising center fielder.
After that, they've got a bunch of question marks.
The first question mark is a highly paid franchise player shrouded in scandal. The second is a suspect starting pitching rotation. The third is an unknown bullpen.
It's one thing to think the Brewers could produce enough on offense to be competitive against National League pitching. It's quite another to believe that their starting rotation has enough juice to compete for a division or league championship in 2014.
With a vast array of holes to plug, the management team at Miller may be forced to scuttle its short-term hopes alongside the Edmond Fitzgerald in Lake Superior.
The team simply can't buy the arms it needs to compete, and without them it simply ain't gonna happen.
Instead, the team's management committee will likely hope that players like Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks kick off the year on solid footing so the team can trade its large contracts away for some promising young talent.
In a previous article for Grantland, Jonah Keri suggested that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio may be toying with some new ideas in quantitative talent evaluation. One can only hope that pays off, and that the initiative, combined with some fresh blood acquired through trades, will be enough to bring the magic back to Milwaukee sometime soon.
It's tough times for the team right now, but that doesn't mean it won't be Miller Time in Wisconsin come spring.
Brewer fans have supported their team through many valleys, and this one won't be any different.
Andrew Prochnow is a derivatives trader that previously slung sodas for SportService at Milwaukee County Stadium. He is a regular contributor at Yahoo Sports and The Bleacher Report. Tweet him @AndrewProchnow.
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