Friday, July 27, 2012

Greinke traded to the Angels

The wait is over, Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin finally traded Zack Greinke.  I say finally because with how much the Brewers struggled this year it was not if but when Greinke would be traded.

There are a number of stats driven blogs that will break down how well the players the Brewers acquired from the Angels performed in the minor leagues.  I am more interested in comparing what the Brewers gave up to acquire Greinke with what the Brewers just got for Greinke.

Two years ago the Brewers acquired Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt (SS) for Lorenzo Cain (CF, 6'2), Alcides Escobar (SS, 6'1"), Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 6'2"), and Jeremey Jeffress (RHP, 6'1").

Melvin traded Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels for three high-level minor league prospects: Jean Segura (SS, 5'10"), John Hellweg (RHP, 6'9"), and Ariel Pena (RHP, 6'6").

Escobar is a better defensive shortstop than Segura (top rated Angels' prospect behind Mike Trout going into 2012) but Segura possesses a better upside offensively over Escobar so let's call that a wash.

Odorizzi and Jeffress projected about as good as Hellweg (4th rated Angels' prospect going into 2012) and Pena (9th rated Angels' prospect going into 2012) project currently so let's call that a wash as well, especially when you consider that Jeffress is one positive drug test from never playing major league baseball again.

That leaves Cain v. Betancourt for one season and Greinke for 49 starts.  With all due respect to Cain's potential, the Brewers would not have made the playoffs last season without Greinke so by the Allen Brown transitive property that makes the Brewers a winner.

Before we start anointing Melvin executive of the year, let's not forget that Greinke is a bona fide ace while the three players the Brewers got in return are prospects aka lottery tickets.

Earlier today I said the Brewers should keep Zack Greinke to give fans a reason to buy tickets or tune in every fifth day to see Greinke pitch.  Furthermore, I thought the Brewers should hold onto Greinke mostly because they would get a compensatory pick after the first round in the 2013 MLB Draft if they lost Greinke to free agency.

To quote the late, great Jerry Orbach: when I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong.  I thought there was no way that the Brewers could get three top prospects for that might only amount to a two-month rental of Zack Greinke. Furthermore, according to the new CBA if the Angels lose Greinke to free agency this off-season, they get no draft pick compensation.

As I said above, a prospect is a lottery ticket but for the first time in my lifetime the Brewers actually have a number of lottery tickets (Tyler Thornburg, Wily Peralta, John Hellweg, Ariel Pena, Taylor Jungmann, Jimmy Nelson, and Jed Bradley) that look like they might actually pay off by pitching consistently in the big leagues in 2013 or 2014.  Add in that Segura should be the starting shortstop for the Brewers in 2013 at the latest and the Brewers have a ton of young, quality players.

The Brewers may never have a pitcher quite like the quirky Greinke ever again.  I will never forget Greinke saying he thought the Steelers would beat the Packers a week before Super Bowl XLV at Brewers On Deck in 2011, which was his first public appearance as a Milwaukee Brewer.

All of Greinke's quirks aside, much like C.C. Sabathia, Greinke will go down as one of the best "comet" pitchers in Milwaukee Brewers franchise history.  Here's hoping that sooner rather than later the Brewers get to cash all three of the lottery tickets they acquired today for Greinke.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Defensive Free Agents that Ted Thompson Should Sign

Oddly there is not a ton to report from our first look at the 2012 Green Bay Packers.  The two biggest stories are that Donald Driver is in the fold for at least 2012 and that undrafted rookie outside linebacker Dezman Moses is turning some heads aka pulling a Shields/Zombo.

Leaving aside the decision to sign Jeff Saturday and lock down Donald Driver for 2012, the Packers usually error on the side of signing younger guys instead of older guys.  Despite drafting six defensive players with their first six picks in the 2012 NFL, the Packers could still use some veteran help defensive side of the ball.  Here are a couple of potential AARP candidates that Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson should consider signing for 2012 for the veteran minimum:

Aubrayo Franklin (DT): After B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, nothing is settled along the defensive line.  There are defensive lineman headed for suspensions (Anthony Hargrove and Mike Neal), warm bodies at best (Daniel Muir, Philip Merling, C.J. Wilson, and Jarius Wynn) and rookies (Mike Daniels and Jerel Worthy). Since there are still holes along the defensive line, some of those could be plugged in a big way (no pun intended) by Franklin.

Andre Carter (OLB/DE) & Matt Roth (OLB/DE): As training camp opens the Packers will give Nick Perry, (LINK)their first round pick from the 2012 NFL Draft(LINK), every chance to win the job.  If Perry and the myriad of back-ups (Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore, Dezman Moses, Vic So'oto, Erik Walden, and Frank Zombo) struggle the Packers should call Carter or Roth sooner rather than later since they desperately need some semblance of a pass rush opposite Claymaker.

Jim Leonhard (S): Assuming Leonhard can stay healthy for the year (huge assumption) you know you are going to get consistent, no-nonsense contributions from Leonhard.  That is exactly what the Packers need at safety because they have a bunch of question mark after they cut Nick Collins since all that leaves is a guy that never played the position (Charles Woodson if they move him to safety), an under-achiever (Charlie Peprah), an injury-riddled guy (Morgan Burnett), and a bunch of unknown NFL commodities (Anthony Levine, M.D. Jennings, and Jerron McMillian).  Add in that Leonhard was one of the best feel-good stories to come out of the University of Wisconsin in the last decade and a homecoming would be a fitting way to end his career.

I know the chances of the Packers even pondering signing Franklin, Carter, Roth, or Leonhard are small but any would be nice addition to the defense since they would help bring a veteran mix to a very young defense.

Related Posts:

Wednesday What (Should) Happen - 2012 Green Bay Packers 1.0

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stricker fails to win his 4th consecutive John Deere Classic

The two native sons of the John Deere Classic are Golfing Jesus aka Zach Johnson and Midwestern Cougar aka Steve Stricker.  Both native sons played a big role in the 2012 John Deere Classic.

Over the last three years Stricker made almost $2.5 million just at the John Deere Classic played at the TPC Deere Run thanks to winning the tournament in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  This year the course measured 7,258-yards, played as a par-71, had a course rating of 75.6, and a slope rating of 145.

Two-peat's at the same tournament in consecutive years are not that uncommon on the PGA Tour but three-peat's are quite rare. Stricker's win last year at the John Deere Classic made him one of only 17 people in PGA Tour history to win the same event three consecutive times.

Stricker started his four-peat bid at the 2012 John Deere Classic with a 65 (6-under-par) thanks in large part to an eagle on the par-four 14th hole.  Stricker carded the eagle in a non-traditional fashion chipping in from 80-yards with a wedge en route to shooting a 6-under 30 on the back nine.

Stricker didn't shoot as well on Friday carding a 67 (4-under-par) to put him in a tie for 8th, which marked the worst position Stricker held going into the weekend (2nd in 2009, 1st in 2010, and tied for 2nd in 2011) during his four-peat bid.

Traditionally the third round of every PGA Tour event is called "moving day" and Stricker did just that shooting a 66 (5-under-par) thanks to four consecutive birdies on the back nine (14th hole through 17th hole) to put him in 2nd place on his own trailing just Troy Matteson by three strokes heading into the final round.  That set-up a "FUBAR Showdown" with Troy Matteson phonetically pronounced "Madison" v. Madison's favorite golfer Steve Stricker.

Stricker's bid for a 4th consecutive win at the John Deere Classic looked on track as the players finished the front nine but it came to a screeching halt when Stricker pulled his drive left out of bounds on the drivable par-four 14th hole.

As I mentioned above, Stricker holed out for an eagle on that very same hole on Thursday. I hate to question Stricker's decision making since he is a professional golfer and I am just a random Cheesehead sports blogger but laying up made much more sense than going for the green.  Stricker played the 14th hole in 4-under-par over three round by trusting his wedge and putter.  Instead of following that same script on Sunday he pressed and paid the price.

Leaving all that aside, Stricker's errant drive forced him to take a penalty stroke, which put him pin high in a horrible spot that was made much worse when he drew a bad lie following his drop.  Stricker pulled off a miraculous chip to get the ball within 6 feet to save par but he pulled the putt left (much like his drive) to card his first bogey of the day.

Things got worse on the next hole when Stricker ended his 153 hole streak without a three-putt with a three-putt bogey.  There was a glimmer of hope when Stricker birdied the 16th hole but that all went away on the very next hole when he bogied the par-five 17th hole.

Going into Sunday I wasn't sure that Stricker could come back from three strokes behind to win the 2012 John Deere Classic since he never overcame more than a two stroke deficit on Sunday in any of his previous 12 PGA Tour wins.

Ultimately Stricker tied for 5th place thus missing out on a playoff between Matteson and Johnson.  Both players were feeling the pressure on the first hole of the sudden death playoff when they hit their second shots on the par-four 18th hole into the water en route to double bogies.  Playing the 18th hole for a 3rd consecutive time, Johnson hit a Stricker-esque bunker shot to win the 2012 John Deere Classic.

The bigger story for Cheesehead sports enthusiasts is Stricker's brush with PGA Tour history though.  If Stricker won the 2012 John Deere Classic he would have become just the 5th player in PGA Tour history to win the same tournament four times in a row joining Tom Morris, Jr. (British Open in 1868-70, 1872), Walter Hagen (PGA Championship in 1924-27), Gene Sarazen (Miami Open in 1926, 1928-30), and Tiger Woods (Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2000-03 and the Farmers Insurance Open in 2005-08).

Stricker was unable to notch his 13th PGA Tour win, which would have been his 10th after the age of 40 and the reason why I call him the Midwestern Cougar of the PGA Tour.  In other PGA Tour Cougar news, the Fijian Cougar is Vijah Singh (22 PGA Tour wins in his 40's) and the Distinguished Cougar is Sam Snead (17 PGA Tour wins in his 40's).

Back to the Midwestern Cougar, he won the opening tournament of the 2012 PGA Tour season so a win at the 2012 John Deere Classic would have given him multiple PGA Tour wins for the fourth consecutive season. There are still a number of PGA Tour events left this season but Stricker's failure to win the 2012 John Deere Classic not only broke his John Deere Classic winning streak but 2012 might be the first season since 2008 that he doesn't win multiple times on the PGA Tour. Yes, that last sentence is my best attempt at reverse jinxing Stricker into winning again in 2012.

Now Midwestern Cougar, Golfing Jesus, and a couple dozen other PGA Tour players get on a chartered flight to the U.K. for the 2012 British Open, which is being held at Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club.  Stricker desperately wanted a four-peat at the John Deere Classic but winning his first Major next weekend would go a long way towards erasing the disappoint of the 2012 John Deere Classic.

Related Posts:
Quick Thoughts - Steve Stricker wins the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
- Sunday Funday - Cheeseheads Rule Day 1 of the 2011 PGA Championship
- Sunday Funday - Steve Stricker's Three-peat at the John Deere Classic
- Sunday Funday - Steve Stricker won the 2011 Memorial Tournament
- Sunday Funday - Steve Stricker wins the 2010 John Deere Classic

Sunday, July 1, 2012

2012 Milwaukee Bucks Draft Picks

This is my second year doing a "mock" first round NBA Draft (2011 and 2012) and my third year reviewing the Bucks actual draft (2010 and 2011).

Usually there are a ton of trades in the first round of the NBA Draft, which makes it really hard to marry pick, player, and team correctly.  This year that was not the case but I still unfortunately only nailed the exact draft number and player for 6 picks* out of 30 in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft.

Although that seems like I did a horrible job, I correctly predicted 26 out of 30 players** that went in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft.  Of the 4 guys*** that I incorrectly predicted would go in the first round, they all were drafted by the 40th pick so my prognostication skills are pretty good.

Here is a breakdown of the two players that the Milwaukee Bucks drafted in the 2012 NBA Draft:

1st Round (14th Overall): John Henson
Position: Power Forward
Age: 21
Birth date: December 28, 1990
Birthplace: Round Rock, TX
School: University of North Carolina
Class: Junior
Height: 6'10"
Weight: 216 lbs
Reach: 9'2"
Wingspan: 7'5"
Twitter: @_John_Henson_
Other Possible Picks: Royce White, Tyler Zeller, and Evan Fournier
Positive Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford): super athletic; long, lanky forward; great motor; awesome rebounder and shot-blocker; excellent defender; and high-character guy
Negative Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford): needs to add A LOT of muscle and perimeter game needs developing 
Analysis: I anointed nine players as the "bell cows" of the draft in my first round preview for the Bucks.  That meant I thought those nine guys had no chance of being available when the Bucks were on the clock with the 14th pick.  As it turns out 8 of those 9 players were drafted with John Henson being the lone "bell cow" still available.  The Bucks smartly pounced despite having a glut of power forwards on the roster (Drew Gooden, Ekpe Udoh, and Larry Sanders).  As I tweeted during the draft, I liked Henson's teammate Tyler Zeller as well.  Despite Zeller being a center and Henson being a power forward, Henson will be a better shoot blocker and all-around defender in the NBA than Zeller.  Plus the NBA is moving away from using a traditional center.  There are still the Dwight Howards and Andrew Bynums of the world teams are gravitating towards playing smaller line-ups using a power forward/center as their defensive stopper instead of a traditional center.  On his podcast, Bill Simmons talked Jay Bilas into saying that someone had "Freddie Kruger like length" during the draft telecast and Henson was the lucky recipient of that praise.  Seems like worthy praise since Henson has a 7'5" winspan but is only 6'11"... pretty damn impressive.  Don't get me wrong, Henson has to add some muscles mass over the next few seasons but I see the Bucks putting Henson on a three-year plan that results in him being a stud on the defensive end that finds his offensive touch by his second or third NBA season.  It could just be Henson having a quality PR coach but every interview he has given so far he has mentioned how much he likes Milwaukee.  In case you can't tell already, I absolutely love this pick.  The Milwaukee Bucks have enough guys that can shoot so adding a two time ACC defensive player of the year is a no brainer.  I am in Milwaukee this weekend and if I am able to locate a Henson jersey, I will buy my first jersey since I purchased a Big Dog jersey over a decade ago.  Mark my words, the floor for Henson is Tayshaun Prince and the ceiling feels limitless.

2nd Round (42nd Overall): Deron Lamb
Position: Shooting Guard
Age: 20
Birth date: November 6, 1991
Birthplace: Laurelton, NY
School: Kentucky
Class: Sophomore
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 199 lbs
Reach: 8'3"
Wingspan: 6'7"
Twitter: @DLamb20
Other Possible Picks: Darius Miller, Kostas Papanikolaou, and Kyle O'Quinn
Positive Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford): big-time scorer, very smooth, awesome mid-range game, good ball handler, big wingspan makes up for lack of size, and good athlete
Negative Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford): needs to add strength and a bit undersized for his position 
Analysis: Much like with Henson, I thought there was no way in the world that Deron Lamb would be available.  Despite previewing a ton of players for the Bucks to target in the second round, I never for a minute thought about including Lamb.  It seems crazy to me that arguably the most prolific three pointer shooter in Kentucky history (click here for the stats) was still around towards the middle of the second round.  My only real knock on Lamb is that he does this weird eye thing every time he hits a three.  Now that he is on the Bucks may be it will be endearing but I found it annoying when he played for Kentucky. As I tweeted during the draft, the Lamb pick felt just like when the Bucks drafted Jodie Meeks.  Both players are prolific shooting guards from the University of Kentucky, the only difference is that the Bucks got Meeks with the 41st pick in the 2009 NBA Draft while they got Lamb with the 42nd pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.  I was excited about Meeks in 2009 and am downright ecstatic about Lamb.  Much like I did with Henson above.  Mark my words, the floor for Lamb is being the right handed Michael Redd so please don't discard Lamb the way you did Meeks for a second round draft pick.

Everyone likes to feel like they got a deal, which is most of the reason why I enjoy buying clothes from the outlet mall.  The Bucks must feel like the 2012 NBA Draft was their visit to the outlet mall since they got two players that were projected to go much earlier than where the Bucks drafted them.

Before we start popping champagne bottles, I am including myself since I am on the prowl for a Henson jersey, let me throw throw a little cold water on the post.  On one of my trips to the outlet malls I liked a certain pair of pants so I bought a few versions of them in different colors.  Unfortunately some of them didn't fit right so the moral of the story is that outlet mall acquisitions don't always work out.

On paper Henson and Lamb look like definite rotation guys as rookies and project to be starters down the road.  We all know NBA players are talented so it usually comes down to how all these players mesh.

The Bucks got rid of Jon Brockman, Shaun Livingston, and Jon Leuer while adding Samuel Dalembert, John Henson, and Deron Lamb. That seems like a hell of a swap but part of that enthusiasm goes back to the outlet mall analogy.  Hopefully we look back at the 2012 NBA Draft as a shrewd trip to the outlet mall instead of a bust.

Related Posts
- Wednesday What (Might) Happen - 2012 NBA Draft First Round Preview for the Bucks
- Quick Thoughts - Bucks/Rockets 2012 NBA Draft Day Eve Trade
- Wednesday What (Might) Happen - 2012 NBA Draft Second Round Preview for the Bucks
- Wednesday What (Should) Happen - Advice for John Hammond

* = Anthony Davis (PF, Kentucky) went 1st, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (SF, Kentucky) went 2nd, Bradley Beal (SG, Florida) went 3rd, Thomas Robinson (PF, Kansas) went 5th, Fab Melo (C, Syracuse) went 22nd, and Tony Wroten Jr. (PG, Washington) went 25th.

** = I missed on John Jenkins (SG, Vanderbilt) went 23rd, Jared Cunningham (SG, Oregon State) went 24th, Miles Plumlee (C, Duke) went 26th, and Festus Ezeli (C, Vanderbilt) went 30th.

*** = Quincy Miller (SF, Baylor) predicted 24th went 38th, Draymond Green (SF, Michigan State) predicted 27th went 35th, Will Barton (SG, Memphis) predicted 29th went 40th, and Jeff Taylor (SF, Vanderbilt) predicted 30th went 31st.