SAN DIEGO -- Monday morning marks the official start of the Winter Meetings in downtown San Diego, where Brewers officials will be presented with a painful vantage of where their 2014 season went awry.
Just a few blocks up Harbor Drive is Petco Park, where the Brewers trounced the Padres, 10-1, on Aug. 25 to move back to 15 games over .500, and 1 1/2 games up on the rest of the National League Central. But they lost to Tyson Ross the next night, fell again in the series finale after Francisco Rodriguez's blown save and slipped into a stretch of nine straight losses and 13 losses in 14 games. The sudden slump cost Milwaukee a spot in the postseason.
General manager Doug Melvin & Co. will return this week to continue the comeback project.
"For all of us, it was a disappointing finish," right fielder Ryan Braun said, "so I think you take some time to reflect and try to figure out what happened, what went wrong, and how we can avoid having it happen again."
MLB.com will have the Winter Meetings covered, with reporters from all 30 teams working from the moment everyone begins arriving on Sunday night through the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.
Besides the usual mix of news and rumors, Major League Baseball will announce its latest Stand Up to Cancer initiative and baseball's managers will meet with the media to break down where their clubs stand heading into 2015. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke's session is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on Monday, his first public appearance since the club announced in October that Roenicke would return for a fourth season.
Roenicke will have one new coach on staff (hitting coach Darnell Coles), but at the moment he's looking at a familiar Brewers roster. Pitcher Yovani Gallardo and third baseman Aramis Ramirez remained in the fold after their options were exercised, and arbitration-eligible outfielder Gerardo Parra was tendered a contract. The main newcomer so far is first baseman Adam Lind, a left-handed hitter acquired in an early-November trade with the Blue Jays.
Whether that familiar roster remains untouched in the weeks between these Winter Meetings and Opening Day remains to be seen. Gallardo, Parra, Lind, starter Kyle Lohse and closer Jonathan Broxton are all entering the final guaranteed year of contracts, opening at least the possibility of some trade talks.
Gallardo and Lohse could hear their names often at these Meetings, both because of their salaries ($13 million for Gallardo and $11 million for Lohse) and the fact the Brewers have some pitching depth. But Brewers officials don't expect to field significant interest in either until some of the top free-agent pitchers drop off the market.
The beauty of baseball's Hot Stove is that everybody can be a chef, so we encourage you to fill up the comments sections of stories with your own ideas to make the Brewers better. By the time these Winter Meetings break up, only 10 weeks will remain before pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.