ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers are over .500 with more than a month of the regular season in the books, enough to make some fans see a team emerging from its multiyear rebuild. But is it enough to convince general manager David Stearns?
Stearns was keeping an open mind as of Thursday, when a 5-4 win at Busch Stadium gave the Brewers their first series victory over the Cardinals in more than three years and left Milwaukee, at 15-14, alone in second place in the tight National League Central.
"We know we have a lot of talent, both in this locker room and throughout the organization," Stearns said before the game. "We've seen that talent at points throughout the season. We've also seen some youthful mistakes throughout the season. And the result of that is a .500 record."
If the Brewers stay within sight of an NL Wild Card spot as spring turns to summer, might Stearns deviate from his "acquire, develop and retain" mantra and take a "win-now" stance?
"Wins and losses are part of the long-term vision," Stearns said. "It's an evolving path. I think we know where we want to end up as an organization, and we know the steps we need to take to get there. But the pace of those steps and the ordering are not set in stone.
"I think all along we've been pretty consistent that the pace of this will be dictated by how our players play and how quickly our young group of talent develops together. If that happens to move at a faster pace, that's great. That's a wonderful outcome."
The Brewers have not been Trade Deadline buyers since 2014, when they acquired Gerardo Parra from the D-backs to bolster their outfield and bench. In 2015 and '16, they were major sellers, swinging a series of trades that swapped established players for prospects. The Brewers' most notable deals were with the Astros in '15 (Carlos Gomez) and the Rangers in '16 (Jonathan Lucroy).
If they will be sellers once again, the Brewers still have pieces to move. Left fielder Ryan Braun, who was nearly moved to the Dodgers last August, is the most notable trade chip if he stays healthy and productive. Closer Neftali Feliz, who signed a one-year contract in January, is another.
But if the Brewers keep winning, things could be different.
"I think people are starting to realize we're a lot better than [they] thought," said outfielder Keon Broxton, who went 4-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs on Thursday. "But I never once thought that we were less than we are now. I think we actually have more room to improve."
Of scoring a rare series win against the Cardinals, Broxton said, "It's awesome for our confidence. I think it's making a statement around the league that we're not as bad as people think we are."
Are they good enough to be buyers at the Deadline?
"I think those are really enjoyable conversations to have," Stearns said, "and if we are in a position to have those conversations, we will certainly address that, whether it's in July or August or whenever."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.