David Stearns on Offseason Preparation and Rebuilding the Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers had a good offseason. As Dave Cameron wrote earlier this week, “If you want to see a blueprint for how to rebuild, look at what the Brewers did this winter.”

David Stearns, who replaced Doug Melvin as the club’s general manager in September, has been the main architect. An assistant GM in Houston before coming to Milwaukee, Stearns is laying the groundwork for what he envisions as an Astros-like level of resurgence.

Stearns addressed offseason player-acquisition strategy earlier this week in Phoenix.


Stearns on preparing for the offseason: “Preparation starts in August. You start to look at what your team might look like going forward — what your needs are, what the availability of other players might be.

“I came into this job right at the end of the season and Doug and his group had already done a lot of work, a lot of valuable work. Every general manager is going to want something slightly different, so we did have a little bit of a compressed time frame to prepare.

“You lay out targets from other organizations and you lay out free agent targets. You do a lot of preparation and planning as to how you might match up with various teams. A lot of that becomes irrelevant very quickly when you get on the phone wth another general manager. Sometimes those conversations can eventually lead to deals.

“I think every team goes about their offseason a little differently, but there’s always a tremendous amount of planning. I don’t know that anyone has the magic formula for it. I do know you need to be prepared for anything that might come up.”

On assigning grades to players: “We attach a variety of rating systems to players, whether it’s a metric or information from our scouting reports or our medical reports. We rate players (across both leagues) in a variety of ways.

“I don’t know if you can really equate it to a draft-board type of situation. In a draft you have an opportunity, a very valuable opportunity, to make 40 selections. And you’re going to make 40 selections. In the offseason, it’s not quite the same thing because you need two parties to dance. Right? Either another team or another player needs to feel you are a good match as well. The strategy and thought process is different in that respect.

“Your offseason goals are constantly adjusting based on the market — what’s available and what you’ve already done — and within that concept you sit back and evaluate. You try to determine how that’s going to influence the remainder of your offseason.”

On building for the future: “(Ownership is) definitely (willing to spend). But our payroll right now is in the province of our desire to let our young players play. We have a very young team — we have some talented young players — and our goal is to let them continue to develop and establish themselves as quality major league players. We think that’s our best strategy to create a consistently competitive team.

“Every win matters. All competitive people prefer to gain ground at all times, but the ultimate goal is to win a World Series. We are ultimately going to get to that level of competitiveness if we allow our young players to improve.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Dan Flaherty
6 years ago

very nice to see inside the mind of one of the smartest men of the offseason, thanks!