Brewers officials excited for 2014; want to move forward



MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Opening Day is just one week away! As the Milwaukee Brewers gear up for their 2014 season, Brewers officials say it's all about moving forward and not looking back.

Next Monday, March 31st, the Brewers meet the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park for their first official game of the season.

With one week to go, on Monday, March 24th, Brewers officials spoke with the media about how the Brewers maintain a positive image in the face of a losing season and the Ryan Braun suspension.

Workers on Monday gave the stands at Miller Park a good rinse. On the field, the Brewers hope to wash away the bad taste of a losing season -- one that saw its best player receive a 65-game suspension.

"People are excited. I think we put a difficult 2013 season behind us. We've made some moves to make the team better and we'll see," Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger said.

Upon his return, the Brewers expect Ryan Braun to produce on the field, while rebuilding his image off the field.

"I think Ryan Braun knows he's got some work to do -- there's no question about it. He knows he's gotta do an outreach to the fans and it's just the beginning of that. If you were gonna use baseball terms, he's probably in the second inning," Schlesinger said.

Besides Braun, the Brewers organization believes it has a solid foundation with Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez -- along with backstop Jonathan Lucroy.

"You've got a core there and that's one thing the Brewers have needed and they have that," Brewers broadcaster Dave Nelson said.

Keeping those players long-term could be a challenge, as a boom in local TV deals have allowed big market teams to dwarf the Brewers in terms of revenue.

The Brewers expected to make a little more than $20 million on last year's contract. The Dodgers make around $280 million a year with their deal. Through revenue sharing, the richest teams do give money to smaller market clubs. Baseball has started giving extra draft picks to teams like the Brewers, but Schlesinger says you still have to turn those picks into good players.

"The TV contracts are a big issue, but we have some really smart people in baseball that are gonna figure this out and I expect to see changes to the system over the next few years to at least partially address it," Schlesinger said.

For now, the team focuses on 2014 -- believing the talent is there for a return to the top of the standings.

"I think we're going to surprise some people and if the team can stay healthy, especially our pitching, we're gonna prove some critics wrong," Nelson said.