MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Stearns giving Brewers an extreme makeover

Crew has made eight trades, multiple signings since his hiring Sept. 21

Stearns giving Brewers an extreme makeover

The Milwaukee Brewers made their only World Series appearances in 1982.

Two years, 121 days after the final out in the Brewers' Game 7 loss to the Cardinals, David Stearns was born on Feb. 18, 1985.

Today, Stearns is facing the challenge of overseeing Milwaukee's rebirth. He was hired last September to replace Doug Melvin as the club's general manager.

"I have seen some really good Brewers teams, especially in the last decade," said Stearns, "but I have never seen a Brewers team in the World Series. My goal is to not only see them get back to a World Series, but take that final step to a world championship."

Stearns has wasted little time revamping the organization during the offseason, completing eight trades that brought 16 new players into the organization. They added two players in the Rule 5 Draft during the Winter Meetings, five players on waivers claims and signed free-agent first baseman Chris Carter. There also are eight players with big league experience who were signed to Minor League contracts and invited to Spring Training.

Stearns on Brewers' recent trade

Stearns may not be done yet.

There has been speculation about a possible trade of catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and there is curiosity about possible interest in outfielder Ryan Braun. For now, however, Stearns seems interested in seeing how the pieces already added fit in the puzzle.

"At some point, you need to let the players we have play, and let the team come together and compete in a Major League season," he said.

But Stearns admitted, "We are constantly talking to other teams."

It's all about being on the constant lookout to revamp an organization that is coming off a 94-loss season and finishing 32 games out of first in a National League Central that sent three teams -- the division-champion Cardinals and NL Wild Card representatives the Cubs and Pirates -- to the postseason. It was the Brewers' worst season in 11 years.

The Brewers have lost more than 94 games in only five of their 47 years of existence, and finished farther out of first place only seven times.

Looking to replenish the farm system and get the organization back on a championship track, Stearns not only is bringing in new players, but also revamping the club's approach to scouting. An emphasis is being placed on extensive evaluation of the farm system, which includes scouts who have typically focused on in-season evaluation of big league talent spending time checking out Minor Leagues, from the lowest levels up.

"Part of it is getting all our scouts -- the younger, the older, the veterans and the newer -- an opportunity to evaluate at all levels,'' said Stearns. "More and more, the prospects you acquire are at the lower level."

Adding prospects has been a focus for Milwaukee since last July, even before the decision was made for Doug Melvin to move from the role of general manager to senior adviser, and the eventual hiring of Stearns.

New GM Stearns introduced

While the Brewers have been contenders for the better part of the past decade -- advancing to the postseason in 2008 and '11 -- the focus had been on adding big league talent to try to get back to the World Series with deals that packaged prospects to add the likes of a CC Sabathia or Zack Greinke.

Now, Milwaukee is looking to bring back prospects for veterans, and early indications are the efforts have been positive. Including three late July trades made by Melvin, 11 members of MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Brewers Prospects were acquired since the All-Star break.

Of the 16 players acquired in trades since the arrival of Stearns, only three have exceeded big league rookie status: pitcher Chase Anderson, infielder Aaron Hill and shortstop Jonathan Villar.

"We felt we had an opportunity to improve aspects of our 40-man roster, and also believe that we added talented players to the Major League roster who can help us win games at the big league level," said Stearns. "Overall our goal is to acquire, develop and retain the best young talent we can."

And Milwaukee will head to Spring Training with not only Carter, Hill, Anderson and Villar expected to fill key roster spots, but also looking at an outfield that could include Braun along with Domingo Santana and Rymer Liriano in the starting lineup and Keon Broxton as a backup. With Hill capable at second or third, Garin Cecchini will get a shot at third base this spring.

That's in addition to experienced big league players, including outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhius, a waiver claim from the Mets who could win the center-field job, and non-roster invitees that include outfielders Eric Young Jr. and Alex Presley, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, left-handed pitchers Chris Capuano and Pat Misch, and right-handed pitcher Tim Dillard.

"It has been a rapid transition," said Stearns.

But the Brewers know they have a lot of ground to cover to get where they want to be.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.