Sunday, February 26, 2012

2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks Midseason Player Rankings

Hopefully the NBA All-Star Break, yes it is a break since no one I will discuss below deserves to be involved in any portion of the festivities, will give the Milwaukee Bucks a chance to relax and re-charge their batteries.

The Bucks head into the break with a despicable 13-20 record.  It would be easy to blame their poor record on Andrew Bogut's injury but that is becoming an annual tradition in Cheesehead country so I hope management approached the season envisioning Bogut as gravy as opposed to turkey because as usual, Bogut looks done for the year.

In case you missed my initial player rankings, take a quick look because it will set the table for these mid-season rankings since it would be the understatement of the year to say that I am frustrated by the Bucks right now.

Let's consider this the In Memoriam portion of the post.  To no one's surprise, Darington Hobson is no longer with the Bucks after getting cut for the second time in as many seasons.  My two realistic shooting guard crushes in the NBA (i.e. Bucks either had them on their roster or could have easily added them to their roster) are Jodie Meeks and Jordan Crawford.  Since the Bucks traded Meeks for the right to draft Hobson, I officially despise Hobson more than Anthony Mason.

With that out of the way, here is my rapid fire updated mid-season player rankings for the 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks:

#14 (5) Stephen Jackson (#5, SG/SF, 6'8", 220 lbs, Oak Hill Academy, 12th NBA Season):
As former President Bush would say: fool me once, shame on me.  Fool me twice, well you're not going to fool me again.  I know Jackson is a locker room cancer for non-playoff teams but who would have thought in less than a year Jackson would be the least valuable player of the three players the Bucks acquired before the 2011 NBA Draft.  In fact Jackson has been so bad this year that he is giving Latrell Sprewell a run for his money for the most talent squandered in Milwaukee.

#13 (14) Jon Brockman (#40, PF/C, 6'7", 255 lbs, Washington, 3rd NBA Season):
I know Brockman makes more money than most people but I think we all average about the same playing time as Brockman.

#12 (1) Andrew Bogut (#6, C, 7'0", 260 lbs, Utah, 7th NBA season):
Really sad for Brockman and Jackson that they couldn't beat out a hobbled Bogut that is most likely out for the season.  I hate to say this but I wonder whether a gimpy Bogut would be more productive than a healthy Brockman.  That may seem foolish but think about it for a minute.

#11 (13) Tobias Harris (#15, SF/PF, 6'8", 226 lbs, Tennessee, Rookie):
If I am salty about the Bucks no longer having Meeks because they flipped him for a second round pick that turned into Hobson, I might go postal over the fact that the Bucks passed on Kenneth Faried to draft Harris in the 2012 NBA Draft.

#10 (12) Larry Sanders (#8, PF/C, 6'11", 235 lbs, Virginia Commonwealth, 2nd NBA Season):
Each game Sanders is showing signs of being a guy that could take over a game defensively.  Unfortunately those signs have been nothing more than an occasional flicker.  Sanders will never be a dominate offensive player so he needs to focus on his defense if he hopes to crack the regular rotation.

#9 (7) Beno Udrih (#19, PG/SG, 6'3", 203 lbs, Slovenia, 7th NBA Season):
With Jackson attempting to sabotage the 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks, settling on a regular back court has been challenging so versatile guys like Udrih have been invaluable.

#8 (9) Shaun Livingston (#9, PG/SG, 6'7", 175 lbs, Peoria Central High School, 7th NBA Season):
If salary were no factor, I would probably rather have Udrih than Livingston.  Unfortunately salary is a factor, since Livingston makes 50% of what Udrih makes, Livingston gets the higher ranking.

#7 (6) Jon Leuer (#30, PF/C, 6'10", 228 lbs, Wisconsin, Rookie):
Playing in Germany allowed Leuer to hit the ground running but now that we are half way through the season it looks like Leuer will get less opportunities to play as other guys round into playing shape.  Don't get me wrong, I would rather see Leuer continue to get quality playing time but it looks like Sanders and Harris might start taking away some of Leuer's minutes.

#6 (11) Mike Dunleavy Jr. (#17, SG/SF, 6'9", 230 lbs, Duke, 10th NBA Season):
It pains me to not only put Dunleavy in the Top 10 but he is threatening to crack the Top 5 but with how well he has played offesnivelyso far this year, Dunleavy earned the ranking.

#5 (3) Carlos Delfino (#10, SG/SF, 6'6", 230 lbs, Argentina, 7th NBA Season):
Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond's crush on Delfino dates all the way back to the 2003 NBA Draft when he was an underling for the Detroit Pistons front office when they took Darko with the 2nd pick in the draft instead of Melo, Bosh, or Wade.  The Pistons clearly missed on Darko but Delfino has turned into a starting shooting guard/small forward, which is a pretty good result for a guy picked 25th in any NBA Draft.

#4 (4) Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (#12, SF/PF, 6'8", 230 lbs, UCLA, 4th NBA Season):
This is more reputation than production because The Prince has not taken a huge step forward this year thanks to visa and injury issues.  The Prince needs to right the ship in the second half of the season because the Bucks need him to shore up their sieve-like defense.

#3 (8) Ersan Ilyasova (#7, SF/PF, 6'10", 235 lbs, Turkey, 4th NBA Season):
Starting the season it looked like Ilyasova was fighting for his NBA life but with how well Ilyasova has played so far he will play in the NBA next year unless he wants to move back to Europe.

#2 (10) Drew Gooden (#0, PF/C, 6'10", 236 lbs, Kansas, 10th NBA Season):
Once Bogut went down injured, the Bucks asked Gooden to slide over and play center.  That's really a thankless job because Gooden spots most starting centers at least a few inches, which hurts him on both ends of the court.  Despite playing out of position, Gooden has performed admirably this year.

#1 (2) Brandon Jennings (#3, PG, 6'1", 169 lbs, Oak Hill Academy, 3rd NBA Season):
With Bogut hurt and Jackson sabotaging the team, Jennings is the only guy on the roster that sells tickets so he has to be ranked #1.

I don't want to jinx the Bucks but things can't go much worse in the second half of the season so absent a miracle, the Bucks look lottery bound for the fifth time in six years.

Related Posts:
- Sunday Funday - 2011-12 Milwaukee Bucks Initial Player Ratings

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ryan Braun pulls the Reverse Al Capone

Thanks to Ryan Braun pulling the Reverse Al Capone, yesterday might be the highlight of the season for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. I obviously don't want to throw dirt on the season just yet but Braun avoiding a 50-game suspension on a technicality could go down as the high point for the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers. For those that don't understand what I mean by the Reverse Al Capone, the government incarcerated Al Capone on tax evasion as opposed to the hundreds of much more brutal crimes Capone most likely committed. Braun got his positive test for performance enhancing drugs reversed on a chain-of-custody technicality as opposed to proving he did not in fact test positive, which is why I will always refer to it as the Reverse Al Capone.

Saturday, October 1, 2011 will now go down as one of the most famous days in Cheesehead sports history. Following the Brewers winning an afternoon home game to open their 2011 post-season campaign over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dino I. Laurenzi Jr. collected samples from Braun and two other unnamed players. Laurenzi left Miller Park at 5 pm but did not deliver the samples to FedEx for 44 hours despite the fact that he could have taken the sample to a number of FedEx locations that Saturday night.

As we all know by now, Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone based on the sample collected by Laurenzi. Positive test results are supposed to remain private until after a decision on the player's appeal is rendered. ESPN found out about Braun's positive test result and reported the test result.

An arbitration panel comprised of three individuals (Shyam Das, Robert Manfred, and Michael Weiner) heard Braun's appeal. Although the opinion has not become public record, it is thought that Das ruled in favor of Braun because he felt that Laurenzi didn't follow the proper protocol and thus there was a breakdown in the chain-of-custody.

I am absolutely stunned that Braun became the first major league baseball player to actually get a positive test result overturned under MLB's new testing program. As a Brewer fan I am happy with the result but I honestly think the set-up of the arbitration panel needs to be reformed. MLB would be much better off having three neutral arbitrators instead of putting the decision solely it in the hands of Shyam Das, the one true neutral arbitrator on the panel. The other two members of the panel are an MLB rep (Robert Manfred) that is always going to vote against overturning a drug suspension suspension and an MLBPA rep (Michael Weiner) that is always going to vote for overturning the suspension. For those that follow the United States Supreme Court, Shyam Das is Justice Kennedy.

During Braun's speech today he said: "If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say 'I did it'."

I wish Braun wouldn't get so high and mighty about this. I respect that Braun has always been consistent with his message. In fact I give Braun a ton of credit for shooting down the STD treatment rumors but for Braun to say that if he unintentionally did this he would just accept the punishment is disingenuous at best.

Apparently every time a Brewer is on the base paths they are timed. Braun claims that his speed did not increase throughout the season. When you compare these numbers, I guess Braun's numbers were virtually identical throughout the entire season. I am not sure if that includes Braun falling on his face on his inside-the-park HR attempt though. Oddly that tumble happened exactly one month before the fateful drug test.

If that doesn't convince you, Braun claims he did not gain or lose a pound throughout the entire 2011 season. Apparently the Brewers administer a weekly weigh-in and Braun's consistency on the base paths was matched by his consistency on the scale.

I am sure there are various explanations for why Laurenzi didn't take the sample FedEx. Braun claims that he tested negative at least 25 times throughout his career. Unfortunately for Braun that has nothing to do with the next test, just ask Rafael Palmeiro. Also no one is talking about the fact that two other Brewers were tested. Those other player's samples were presumably treated just like Braun's sample so how come their samples didn't test positive?

Did Braun get off on a technicality? For sure.

Did Braun take PEDs? Obviously we will never know but if I had a gun to my head I would have to say yes.

As I highlighted in my spring training preview of the Milwaukee Brewers, barring a catastrophic injury to one of their franchise guys (Braun, Gallardo, Greinke, or Ramirez) I actually think the team is in pretty good shape to contend for the lackluster N.L. Central. Throw in that MLB is considering adding another playoff team for each league and the Brewer could feast on the basement dwellers of the N.L Central (Astros, Cubs, & Pirates) to spring board them into the playoffs in 2012.

No matter what happens this year or even through the next decade that Ryan Braun plays for the Milwaukee Brewers, fans of the Brewers need to send Das and Lorenxo a huge thank you because Braun would have been a decade long drag on the organization if he didn't pull the Reverse Al Capone.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

2012 Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training Preview

Welcome to my third annual Milwaukee Brewers spring training preview (2010 and 2011).

Five new players were added to the 40-man roster: Norichika Aoki (OF), Jeff Bianchi (UTL), Alex Gonzalez (SS), Aramis Ramirez (3B/1B), Jose Veras (RHP) while nine players are no longer on the 40-man roster from last season: Yuniesky Betancourt (SS), Craig Counsell (UTL), Prince Fielder (1B), Jerry Hairston Jr. (UTL), LaTroy Hawkins (RHP), Mark Kotsay (OF/1B), Casey McGehee (3B), Takashi Saito (RHP), and Josh Wilson (UTL).

The 2012 Milwaukee Brewers enter spring training with at least 56 players in contention for 25 roster spots. Absent injury, 20 roster spots are virtually locked down leaving 5 available roster spots. Below you will find a quick analysis of the roster heading into spring training along with my predictions of which players should make the opening day roster.

- Guaranteed: Jonathan Lucroy
- Borderline: George Kottaras and Martin Maldonado
- Long-shot: Patrick Arlis, Anderson De La Rosa, Paul Phillips, and Mike Rivera

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: Johnathan Lucroy looks like the best young the Brewers catcher since B.J. Surhoff. After Lucroy, the Brewers need to decide whether to keep Randy Wolf's personal catcher (Kottaras) or the best barber on the roster (Maldonado). Maldonado strikes me as a "glue" guy that everyone on the roster likes. For that reason along, I would keep Maldonado, which doesn't even account for the offensive tear he was on at the end last season. I would keep Lucroy and Maldonado but my guess is that the Brewers keep Lucroy and Kottaras.

- Guaranteed: Mat Gamel (1B), Alex Gonzalez (SS), Aramis Ramirez (3B/1B), and Rickie Weeks (2B)
- Borderline: Brooks Conrad (2B/3B), Taylor Green (3B), Travis Ishikawa (1B), Cesar Izturis (UTL), and Brock Kjeldgaard (1B/OF)
- Long-shot: Jeff Bianchi (UTL), Eric Farris (2B), Edwin Maysonet (2B/SS), and Zelous Wheeler (SS/3B)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: I find it borderline delusional that the Brewers are putting all their post-Prince eggs in the Mat Gamel basket. Gamel put up big numbers in a hitter friendly AAA league last year so he is bound to regress offensively this year. Add in that Gamel is injury prone and I would make sure that Hart and Ramirez get ample opportunities at first base during spring training since Gamel will be on the DL at some point this season. Plus, the Brewers have a good backup option at 3rd base in Green so Ramirez could easily move to first base. It looks like a five horse race for the last back-up infield spot with Izturis as the odds on favorite to win the race. Only time will tell but at this point if I were in charge I would keep Gamel, Gonzalez, Green, Ramirez, and Weeks.

- Guaranteed: Norichika Aoki (OF), Ryan Braun (LF), Carlos Gomez (CF), Corey Hart (RF/1B), and Nyjer Morgan (CF)
- Borderline: None
- Long-shot: Caleb Gindl (OF) and Logan Schafer (CF)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: Whether the Brewers want to admit it or not, they signed Aoki thinking Braun would be suspended for the first 50-games of the season. If Braun isn't suspend (a huge if by the way) the outfield looks set with Braun in left, Morgan/Gomez platooning in center, and Hart in right field. Absent injury I would be shocked if the Brewers kept any other outfields than Aoki, Braun, Gomez, Hart, and Morgan.

Starting Pitching:
- Guaranteed: Yovani Gallardo (R), Zack Greinke (R), Shaun Marcum (R), Chris Narveson (L), and Randy Wolf (L)
- Borderline: None
- Long-shot: Jed Bradley (L), Taylor Jungmann (R), Amaury Rivas (R), Mark Rogers (R), and Cody Scarpetta (R)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: The Brewers got great offensive contribution from Braun and Fielder last year but it was their impressive starting pitching that they rode to the playoffs. The Brewers only used six different starting pitchers in 2011 and they might have only used five if Greinke didn't hurt himself playing pick-up basketball. The five regular starting pitchers all posted double digit wins in 2011. The Brewers have two potential stud post-season starting pitchers in Gallardo and Greinke. The rest of their starting rotation is comprised of innings eating regular season pitchers. Greinke, Marcum, and possibly Wolf are set to become free agents after the 2012 season. Luckily the Brewers have two potential starting pitchers that they drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft in Jungmann and Bradley. Much like the outfield, absent injury, the starting rotation looks set heading into spring training with Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum, Narveson, and Wolf.

Relief Pitching:
- Guaranteed: John Axford (R), Marco Estrada (R), Kameron Loe (R), Francisco Rodriguez (R), and Jose Veras (R)
- Borderline: Zach Braddock (L), Brandon Kintzler (R), Manny Parra (L), and Wily Peralta (R)
- Long-shot: Josh Butler (R), Frankie De La Cruz (R), Tim Dillard (R), Mike Fiers (R), Santo Manzanillo (R), Mike McClendon (R), Dan Meadows (L), Juan Perez (L), and Tyler Thornburg (R)

Cheesehead Sports Nut's Prediction: Thanks to a depressed market for closers the Brewers are wildly overpaying K-Rod to be Axford's set-up guy. Hopefully K-Rod is generous with the $8 million he is set to earn in 2012 since that is more money than current closer John Axford might earn over his entire career. Axford is arbitration eligible next year for the first time but with how volatile closers are, the Brewers might as well go year-to-year with Axford for the next four years since he cannot be a free agent until 2017. The Brewers already have a long reliever/spot starter in Estrada to go along with the back-end of their bullpen: Veras (7th inning), K-Rod (8th inning), and Axford (9th inning). That leaves room for three other pitchers. My guess is that Loe and a left handed reliever (either Braddock or Parra depending on if either can stay healthy for the first time since 2010) take the 5th and 6th spots in the bullpen. That leaves one spot that will go to the most live arm in spring training but since I have to predict before seeing anything from spring training I am going to guess that the Brewers keep: Axford, Estrada, Loe, K-Rod, Kintzler, Parra, and Veras.

Opening Day Lineup:
1. Rickie Weeks (2B)
2. Nyjer Morgan (CF)
3. Ryan Braun (LF)
4. Aramis Ramirez (1B)
5. Corey Hart (RF)
6. Mat Gamel (1B)
7. Jonathan Lucroy (C)
8. Alex Gonzalez (SS)
9. Zack Greinke (R)

Starting Rotation:
1. Yovani Gallardo (R)
2. Zack Greinke (R)
3. Randy Wolf (L)
4. Shaun Marcum (R)
5. Chris Narveson (L)

1. John Axford (R)
2. Francisco Rodriguez (R)
3. Jose Veras (R)

Check back for more Brewers coverage throughout spring training.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Advice for Building 2012 Green Bay Packers for Ted Thomspon

I decided to change the format of my off-season advice for Green Bay Packers general manger Ted Thompson this year. Last year I went position-by-position. This year I am going to give a Thompson a 10-point plan for how to deal with players that were on the 2011 roster:

#10 - Wish Pat Lee (CB) good luck on his future endeavors: It is a coin toss between Ahmad Carroll and Pat Lee for the worst cornerback drafted in the last decade by the Packers. Carroll looks like the obvious choice since he was taken in the first round while Lee was taken in the second round but the Sherminator was dual coach and GM that decided to draft Carroll. The much maligned Lee was taken by the current regime and frankly I expect much more out of Thompson drunk than I do out of a sober Sherminator so I actually think Lee is a bigger bust. After one good college season at Auburn, Lee had four injury riddled seasons in Green Bay that caused me more pain than almost any other Packer defender besides Justin Harrell so please don't even attempt to resign Lee.

#9 - Resign Howard Green (DE/DT) to a short term contract: Since the Packers claimed Green off waivers from the Jets he has been a decent cog along the defensive line but weight has always been an issue. Offer Green a contract for a couple years with very low base salaries but high work out bonuses tied directly to Green's weight.

#8 - Let Ryan Grant (RB) and Erik Walden (OLB) test the free agent market: I expect the market to be soft for Grant (injury prone and hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game since X-mas '09) and Walden (production dropped off as he dealt with legal issues surrounding a domestic dispute where his girl friend changed her story). I am fine with the Packers resigning Grant or Walden for the league minimum with no real guaranteed money. Offering either of those guys any more than that seems foolish since there are better options on the roster at running back (Alex Green, Brandon Saine, and James Starks) and the Packers need to invest free agent money or a high draft pick at outside linebacker to help Claymaker.

#7 - Lock-up Jarrett Bush (ST) before free agency commences: Notice that I listed Bush as a special teams player not a cornerback or safety. Bush has cobbled together a pretty impressive special teams career and the Packers can ill afford to lose him. In baseball the old adage is, it only takes one team. Case and point, the Detroit Tigers signing Prince Fielder. By no means am I comparing Bush's worth to the Packers to Fielder's worth to the Brewers. Fortunately in the NFL, it is harder for teams to overpay players because there is a salary cap.

#6 - Don't even consider giving Matt Flynn the franchise tag: People want to point to the tag and trade deal Thompson did with Corey Williams but that is a totally different situation because the Packers could have kept Williams if they didn't find a suitable trade partner. That's not the case with Flynn because if the Packers placed the franchise tag on Flynn he would sign it before the team had a chance to announce the transaction. In the unlikely event that the Packers didn't trade Flynn they would be paying Flynn roughly $5 million more than Aaron Rodgers. Plus what can the Packers reasonably expect to get for Flynn, a second round pick? Don't forget that the Packers will get a compensatory pick for Flynn leaving via free agency that could be a third round compensatory pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. As a result it seems like there is a ton of expensive downside risk in tagging Flynn for getting a second round pick as opposed to a third pick so don't look for Thompson to franchise tag Flynn even if he works contracts with Scott Wells (C) and Jermichael Finley (TE).

#5 - Convince Chad Clifton (LT) to retire: As much as it pains me to say it, Clifton no longer deserves to be the starting left tackle in Green Bay. Marshall Newhouse (LT) had some trouble in 2011 but with that experience under his belt the outlook is much better for Newhouse at 20% the price of Clifton. Hopefully Clifton says that injuries have caught up with him and decides to leave on his "own volition" instead of forcing the Packers to cut him.

#4 - Rework Donald Driver's (WR) contract: With arguably the deepest group of wide receivers (Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson) in the NFL the Packers could just cut Driver and probably not miss a beat in terms of talent. Unfortunately talent is not the only factor in the equation for success. From an outsider's perspective, Driver is the glue that holds the wide receivers together. Obviously there are not enough balls to go around to keep everyone happy but if Driver pulls a LeRoy Butler and renegotiates to take less money in 2012 and 2013 he can continue to be the positive role model in the locker room the Packers desperately need.

#3 - Sign Jermichael Finley (TE): The Packers need to decide whether to break the bank for the 24-year freak of nature or come up with a short-term solution (franchise tag or short-term contract extension). I say either tag Finley or sign him to a short-term deal. Plus keep in mind that the NFL is poised for a huge revenue bump following the 2013 season so the salary cap will increase dramatically. That will allow the Packers to delay what they have to do with all their skill position players because at some point they will have to let some of their talented skill position players leave via free agency. Don't start that exodus with Finley though, delay it for at least a year or two until the salary cap jumps.

#2 - Sign Scott Wells (C): I would just say franchise tag Wells to buy another year to see if you can get a quality center in the draft (i.e. Wisconsin's Peter Konz) but the offensive line has a general franchise tag as opposed to specific position franchise tags. That makes no sense to me because there is a different franchise tag number for tight ends and wide receivers so there should be different franchise tag numbers for tackles, guards, and centers because tackles and guards artificially inflate the offensive line franchise tag number for centers. Since there is only a general offensive line franchise tag it doesn't make sense to tag Wells since that would cost the Packers $9 million in 2012. Plus this year is supposed to be one of deepest crops of free agent centers in years (Nick Hardwick, Dan Koppen, Chris Myers, and Samson Satele) so instead of waiting for the market to sort out, the Packers should stick with their loyal dance partner instead of dipping their toe into uncharted waters. Wells has been their most consistent Packers offensive lineman for almost the last decade. I hope Ted Thompson learned from failing to hold onto Cullen Jenkins last year and signs Wells even if it means signing Wells to a contract in the neighborhood of a five-years for $35 million.

#1 - Start talking about another contract extension for Aaron Rodgers (QB): Reggie White joined the Packers because of Brett Favre. With a Super Bowl ring and a league MVP trophy under his belt, Rodgers is entering the same stratosphere as Favre circa the mid-1990's. It might seem silly to re-negotiate with Rodgers now but the price is only going up for quarterbacks. Sure it might bristle some other guys in the locker room (i.e. Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, or B.J. Raji) if the Packers take care of Rodgers first but the Packers are only going as far as Rodgers takes them so once they settle on another mega-extension with Rodgers they can start to take care of the rest of the roster.

Once the lockout was lifted last summer I gave Ted Thompson a free agent shopping guide. Although I plan to have a number of other Cheesehead sports post in between, make sure to check back in the middle of March for my 2012 free agent shopping guide for Ted Thompson.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Aaron Rodgers named 2011 NFL MVP

This year the NFL had their inaugural "NFL Honors" awards show hosted by Alec Baldwin. Usually the regular season NFL awards are presented in a much more low key way but since the NFL realized that they can get ratings for just about anything they aired a tape delayed presentation of the regular season awards.

Cam Newton won offensive rookie of the year, Von Miller won defensive rookie of the year, Matthew Stafford won comeback player of the year, Jim Harbaugh won coach of the year, Terrell Suggs won defensive player of the year, and Drew Brees won offensive player of the year. Last but certainly not least, Aaron Rodgers was named MVP of the entire league by a wide margin: 48 (Rodgers) to 2 (Brees).

Let's compare the numbers that Rodgers and Brees put up in 2011:

Rodgers completed 68.3% of his passes, threw for 4,643 yards, 45 TDs, and six INTs for a 122.5 passer rating (NFL record).

Brees completed 71.2% of his passes (NFL record), threw for 5,476 yards (NFL record), 46 TDs, and 14 INTs for a 110.6 passer rating.

Rodgers was much more of a threat with his feet than Brees. Rodgers ran for 257 yards and three touchdowns while Brees ran for just 81 yards and one touchdown.

Brees broke at least five NFL single season records. The one that got the most attention was Brees breaking Dan Marino's passing yardage record set 27 years ago. Brees also broke Peyton Manning's record for number of completed passes in a season, Brees completed 468 passes in 2011 while Manning completed 450 passes in 2010. Finally Brees broke three of his own records: completion percentage (71.6% in 2011, 70.6% in 2009), threw for 300 yards in seven straight games, and threw for 300 yards in 13 games in 2011.

Thanks to Brees' brilliance in 2011, the Saints set several single-season offensive records including offensive yards (7,474) and first downs (416). Yes, Brees threw for 833 yards more than Rodgers but Rodgers played in one less game so that gap would have been much smaller. Furthermore, Brees only averaged 8.3 yards per attempt while Rodgers averaged 9.2 yards per attempt.

As the numbers above show, Rodgers was no slouch in 2011. In fact, Rodgers became the only player in NFL history to complete at least 68% of his passes while averaging at least nine yards per attempt. Also the six INTs thrown by Rodgers was the fewest in NFL history for a QB that threw for at least 4,000 yards.

Various pundits argued that Brees should have been the MVP since he broke Dan Marino's single season passing yardage record but let's not forget that two other quarterbacks (Matthew Stafford and Tom Brady) threw for over 5,000 yards in 2011 as well so let's take the sheer yardage numbers with a grain of salt.

We can all agree both Rodgers and Brees had great seasons. Brees put up more raw statistics but Rodgers was much more efficient given the number of opportunities he had, which is ultimately why Rodgers won in a landslide.

Winning the league MVP award put Rodgers is very rarefied air even for a storied franchise like the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers became only the fifth Green Bay Packer to ever be named league MVP joining Brett Favre (1995, 1996, & 1997), Paul Hornung (1961), Bart Starr (1966), and Jim Taylor (1962).

Rodgers accepted the MVP award from Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and said something to the effect of "excited to see you back on the field next year" to which Manning looked like he just got caught looking at porn by his Mom. Nice gesture by Rodgers but all around awkward.

Rodgers took a shot at his favorite team growing up (San Francisco 49ers) for taking Alex Smith #1 overall instead of taking him. There are a million things that impress me about Rodgers but comments like that one about the 49ers show me that even winning the MVP award will not go straight to his head because he will always have some chip on his shoulder.

The Favre v. Rodgers can be left for another day but the one thing Rodgers knows is that if he wins another Super Bowl, he will always have bragging rights over Brett Favre.