Sunday, May 23, 2010


The Milwaukee Brewers are falling further and further out of contention and heading toward the possibility of a 90-loss season.  This kind of ineptitude is no stranger to Brewers fans who endured four consecutive 90-loss seasons from 2001 to 2004 and 89, 87, and 88-loss seasons the three years before that.

What's troubling about this 90-loss season, if in fact the Brewers are that bad, is the wonder of exactly where this organization stands now.  In the early 2000's, the team was horrible, but had the promise of a huge crop of minor league stars waiting in the wings.  What helped us through then was knowing than Prince Fielder would soon be here.  Ryan Braun would soon be here.  J.J. Hardy.  Yovani Gallardo. Rickey Weeks. Manny Parra. Tony Gwynn.  These would be the saviors who would would deliver us from this misery and make the team good again.

Suppose that the Brewers do lose 90 games this year.  Where is the hope now?  Who is the next Prince Fielder?  Who is the next Ryan Braun?  Who is the next, hell, Mitch Stetter?  They're not in Nashville.  Not in Huntsville. Brevard County?  Anywhere?  The Brewers minor league system that was the pride of baseball not 5 years ago has fallen back to the pack and has no more than an average amount of Major League prospective talent.  Are the Brewers on the cusp of another decade of doormat status?

Jack Zduriencik was of course the architect of Brewers once potent minor league system which won him the Major League Executive of the Year Award in 2007 for his efforts and ultimately landed him a coveted GM position in Seattle.  Are we already seeing the effects of him being gone?  Or did those "effects" begin while he was still here?

Only three players who  Zduriencik drafted in the years 2006-2008, his last three with the team, have played in the Major Leagues.  They are:

  1. Matt LaPorta, drafted in 2007 - debuted with Cleveland in 2009.
  2. Cole GIllespie, drafted in 2006 - debuted with Arizona in 2010.
  3. Jonathan Lucroy, drafted in 2007 - debuted with the Brewers yesterday.
Of course your thinking that's unfair because it takes some time for players to develop in the minors and evaluating the 2006-2008 drafts in 2010 might be too soon.  Perhaps.  But let's move the whole window back three years for comparison.  How many of the players that Zduriencik drafted in 2003-2005 had appeared in the Majors by 2007?
  1. Ryan Braun, drafted in 2005 - debuted with the Brewers in 2007.
  2. Yovani Gallardo, drafted in 2004 - debuted with the Brewers in 2007.
  3. Rickey Weeks, drafted in 2003 - debuted with the Brewers in 2003; regular in 2005.
  4. Tony Gwynn, Jr., drafted in 2003 - debuted with the Brewers in 2006.
  5. Mitch Stetter, drafted in 2003 - debuted with the Brewers in 2007.
  6. Ty Taubenheim, drafted in 2003 - debuted with Toronto in 2006.
  7. Drew Anderson, drafted in 2003 - debuted with the Brewers in 2006.
By any means of measurement, that's a much more impressive list.

If you moved the window back one more year, the list would include Prince Fielder.  One year earlier than that, it would include J.J. Hardy.  The fact is that Jack Zduriencik had a very impressive run of draft picks, but that run seemed to end just about the time people started to notice.

Am I saying that Jack Zduriencik purposefully drafted lesser quality players here because he knew that he would soon be getting a better job somewhere else?  No - I wouldn't say that.  Did the notoriety bestowed upon him make him lose his edge?  You'd like to think not.  Did he just have a run of bad luck in the last three years?  Might have.  Did he just have a run of good luck in the years before that?

I don't know the answers to any of those questions.  But I do know that I'm wondering that if Jack Zduriencik was so good, why did he leave us with what could be such a horrible mess?  Did he check out before he left?


Unknown said...

This just confirms that Jack Zduriencik was not that good. He takes alot of credit for drafting but if you look at his record after the second rounds isn't any better than any other Director of Scouting.

Kyle Lobner said...


I get the point of your post but I think there's one point you missed in your comparison: The cornerstones of the earlier window, Braun and Weeks, were both top 5 picks. The Brewers were drafting significantly lower by the 2006-2008 window.

Not that that entirely excuses the situation, but it does explain some of the drop in blue chip talent.

Scott Segrin said...

That's a valid point, KL. But a point on the other side is that Zduriencik isn't exactly tearing up the world in Seattle either. In just one year he has created a very one-dimensional team that can't win.

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