MILWAUKEE — There’s something special about Opening Day.
In Milwaukee it means warmer temperatures are on the way, though the high temperature outside of Miller Park is just 35 degrees Monday.
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The bunting was hung around the park, and fans lined up to get into the parking lot before 9 a.m. – over four hours before Yovani Gallardo will throw the first pitch of the 2013 season.
For Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, it’s already his ninth Opening Day since purchasing the team prior to the 2005 season.
“It does not get old,” Attanasio said. “I saw the fans outside tailgating. A bunch of notes from friends all over the country, and of course having my dad sing the National Anthem for the ninth season, it’s really fun.”
There’s extra excitement and an extra pep in Milwaukee’s step after adding free agent right-hander Kyle Lohse just one week ago. One of the best pitchers in the National League the past two seasons, Lohse will certainly improve the Brewers this season, but Attanasio had to weigh the pros and cons, with the biggest con being forfeiting the team’s first round draft pick and slot money that goes with it.
“Doug and I probably spent maybe as much as 10 days back-and-forth balancing improving the team this year with improving the team for kind of the medium-term,” Attanasio said. “It is a very tough call because we have so much confidence in our scouting department.
“But then conversely because we have so much confidence in (Scouting Director) Bruce (Seid) and his staff, we didn’t need – we’d like or want but didn’t need – the first round pick because we’ve done so well in the later rounds.”
While Lohse’s signing gives some stability to an inexperienced pitching staff, the Brewers still have question marks in the youth of the backend of the rotation.
“I think what excites me the most is what some folks question the most, the youth of the team,” Attanasio said. “Some of our most exciting players are our youngest players. We have a really good young team. More and more you are seeing the young teams are the teams that do well.”
Forbes recently released evaluations of the value of each Major League franchise, estimating the worth of the Brewers at $562 million. That’s over double from the estimated $223 million Attanasio paid for the team in 2005.
“Commissioner Selig has done an unbelievable job at the Major League level,” Attanasio said. “A lot of the doubling value is rising tide carrying loose ships.
“The evaluation has doubled but the metrics have doubled. The revenues have doubled, the sponsorships have doubled. I think we have just about 100 sponsors now.”
Attanasio joked that Milwaukee used to be one of the team’s listed as team’s players didn’t want to be traded to if they had a no-trade clause, but now can convince free agents like Lohse that this is the best available situation.
“That is not the case anymore,” Attanasio said. “Not only is that not the case anymore but we are now a destination in attracting players. That shows how high quality of an experience it is from top to bottom, starting with playing in controlled conditions. Then a management staff starting with Doug, I can’t tell you how many agents have told me that they want to send players here to watch them develop.”