As much as the Milwaukee Brewers would love to simply copy/paste whatever it is the Chicago Cubs did to put themselves in position to win the World Series, the two franchises are very different, with resource inequality, that means they’ll have to go down a different path.
The 68-82 Brewers are about to make it a fifth consecutive season without making the playoffs. They’ve begun their rebuild phase, which included trading away Jonathan Lucroy before the deadline, but they’re probably further off than just one season away from being a contender again. They are actually going to win more games than they did last season, but they haven’t been as aggressive as the Cincinnati Reds when it comes to rebuilding and acquiring young talent, nor do they have a whole lot of assets to move around.
The Cubs went six seasons without the playoffs before making the NLCS last season. They went from 83 wins in 2009, to 75, 71 and then bottoming out at 61 wins in 2012. But there was a long term plan by Theo Epstein, and he had an ownership that backed him, and it worked. The Cubs won 66 games in 2013, 73 games in 2014, and then everything clicked in 2014, with a combination of the young prospects hitting their stride, while beginning to add big name free agents, something they kept doing in this offseason. The Cubs won 97 games in 2015, and are likely to go past that this season, in what might be their first 100-win season since 1966.
The Cubs added players like Kyle Hendricks, Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta and Addison Russell, all part of the backbone of the best record in the majors this season, in a series of very successful trade. They signed Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist in a flurry of free agency spending to complement the young talent they amassed.
The Brewers can’t compete with that. The Cubs are spending on the last four players alone $73.1 million this season, and soon they’ll be handing out bigger deals to their younger players. The Brewers simply aren’t in the same zip code when it comes to spending, and so while following the plans the Cubs had working out for them isn’t a bad idea, the Brewers will have to rely even more on evaluating young talent, and not making a mistake when going for it. They just don’t have the wiggle room to afford mishits.