Sunday, August 31, 2014

The 53 - 2014 Green Bay Packers Initial Roster

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson recently trimmed the active roster to 75 players. Following the initial rounds of cuts, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy gave the backups plenty of playing time against the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason finale to give each of the guys a chance to make The 53.  Some of the backups played well, which was evident when Thompson trimmed the active roster from 75 to 53.

In order to get down to The 53, Thompson cut 18 players and placed four players on injured reserve. 
Review of The 53
Initial Review of the Roster
Initial Review of the Practice Squad
Five Most Overpaid
Five Most Underpaid
Initial Rankings of the Roster
The players cut were:
Chris Banjo (S), Kevin Dorsey (WR), Jake Doughty (LB), John Fullington (OT), Garth Gerhart (C), Alex Gillett (WR), Carlos Gray (DT), Michael Hill (RB), Adrian Hubbard (LB), Jordan McCray (OG), Tanner Miller (S), Justin Perillo (TE), LaDarius Perkins (RB), Luther Robinson (DE), Jumal Rolle (CB), Jeremy Vujnovich (OT), Myles White (WR), and Ryan White (CB).  The players placed on injured reserve were: Aaron Adams (T), Nate Palmer (LB), Jake Stoneburner (TE), and Khyri Thornton (DT). So much for cutting down on injuries this season, the Packers already lost ten players for the regular season before it even started.

Much like I did the lat four years (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013), here is my first look at The 53 for the 2014 Green Bay Packers along with my thoughts on how each player stacks up in their position group:

QB's (3): Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, and Scott Tolzien

RB's (4): Eddie Lacy, James Starks, John Kuhn, and DuJuan Harris

WR's (5): Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarett Boykin, Davante Adams, and Jeff Janis

TE's (4): Brandon Bostick, Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless, and Ryan Taylor

OL's (8): Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang, David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, JC Tretter, Derek Sherrod, Corey Linsley, and Lane Taylor

DL's (5): Mike Daniels, Josh Boyd, Datone Jones, Letroy Guion, and Mike Pennel

LB's (11): Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, Mike Neal, A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Nick Perry, Jamari Lattimore, Andy Mulumba, Sam Barrington, Jayrone Elliott, and Carl Bradford

DB's (10): Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Micah Hyde, Casey Hayward, Morgan Burnett, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Davon House, Jarrett Bush, Sean Richardson, and Demetri Goodson

ST's (3): Mason Crosby, Brett Goode, Tim Masthay

There were a few things that stood out to me about The 53.  First and foremost, Thompson kept just as many wide receivers as defensive lineman.  I know the Packers are essentially a 3-4 team in name only given that they lined up in the nickel almost 2/3rds of their defensive snaps last year.  Having only five defensive lineman on The 53 means that Neal, Perry, and Peppers better be ready to contribute along the defensive line if the Packers suffer an injury or two to their defensive lineman.

Besides only keeping five defensive lineman on The 53 there were no other real surprises on The 53, which is to be expected given that at the start of training camp I had 35 locks and 15 most likelies projected for The 53.  All 50 of those guys either made The 53 (46 of 50) or were placed on injured reserve (4 of 50).  That meant there were just a handful of jobs actually up for grabs.  The last three guys kept on The 53 were probably Carl Bradford, Demetri Goodson, and Lane Taylor and the last three guys cut were probably Chris Banjo, Jumal Rolle, and Myles White.

In 2010 the Packers kept 26 offensive players (including just two running backs but three fullbacks), 24 defensive players, and 3 special teams players on The 53 to start the season.  Of those 53 guys, just 19 of them (8 offensive, 8 defensive, and 3 special teams) are on The 53 right now.

In 2011 the Packers kept 24 offensive players, 26 defensive players, and 3 special teams players on The 53 to start the season.  Of those 53 guys, just 25 of them (12 offensive, 10 defensive, and 3 special teams) are on The 53 right now.

In 2012 the Packers kept 24 offensive players, 26 defensive players, and 3 special teams players on The 53 to start the season.  Of those 53 guys, just 26 of them (10 offensive, 13 defensive, and 3 special teams) are on The 53 right now.

In 2013 the Packers kept 23 offensive players, 27 defensive players, and 3 special teams players on The 53 to start the season.  Of those 53 guys, just 25 of them (14 offensive, 18 defensive, and 3 special teams) are on The 53 right now.

Much like 2011 and 2012, the Packers kept 24 offensive players, 26 defensive players, and 3 special teams players on The 53 to start the 2014 NFL season.

If I had to pick a ten player practice squad based solely on the players cut by the Packers today I would pick the following guys: Chris Banjo (S), Kevin Dorsey (WR), Garth Gerhart (C), Carlos Gray (DT), Michael Hill (RB), Adrian Hubbard (LB), Justin Perillo (TE), Luther Robinson (DE), Jumal Rolle (CB), and Myles White (WR).  Make sure to check back tomorrow for my analysis of the players that Thompson actually signs to the ten player practice squad.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Man City Report - UEFA Champions League Draw

Manchester City stubbed their toe to start the season losing 3-0 to Arsenal in the FA Community Shield, a match that is thankfully meaningless because it merely pits last season's FA Cup Champion (Arsenal) v. the English Premier League ("EPL") Champion (Man City) in a "showcase" match.  For how poorly the FA Community Shield went for Man City, they started their 2014-15 EPL campaign well with a 2-0 road win over Newcastle and followed that up with a 3-1 home win over Liverpool in their first home EPL match of the season.

I am working on a mega review of the summer transfer window for Man City but given that today the groups were drawn for the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League, I thought I would give my quick Man City centric thoughts on the draw.  By way of background, this is the fourth season in a row (and overall) that Man City is participating in the UEFA Champions League. Much like the World Cup draw, teams are split into four groups with some rules governing (e.g. clubs from the same country cannot be drawn into the same group) how the groups are drawn. 

In 2011-12 Man City drew Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal in the group stage.  Although Man City played well in all six matches, they missed getting out of their group by one point.  In 2012-13 Man City drew Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Ajax in the group stage.   For how well Man City played in 2011-12 Champions League group stage, they played the exact opposite in 2012-13 Champions League group stage en route to finishing last in their group.

In 2013-14 Man City drew Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzeň in the group stage.  Third times a charm because Man City made it out of their group in the Champions League for the first time ever.  Unfortunately since Man City finished second in their group behind Bayern Munich and they drew Barcelona in the knockout stages.  Man City played decent in their home-and-home against Barcelona but ultimately Barcelona went through ahead of Man City.

Given that Man City won two of the last three EPL tittles, expectations are much higher for the club now than just a few seasons ago.  Given their domestic league success, European success is the next box that they need to check if they want to be considered one of the elite clubs in the world that starts with the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League.

Going into the group stage selections for 2014-15 UEFA Champions League, I decided to develop some power rankings for each group.  Just to make these rankings crystal clear, the first team in each pot is the team I would least like the Man City to be drawn against, so on and so forth.  It is sort of academic for Pot Two since the Man City cannot be drawn with any of those teams but I thought it would be a nice way for me to rank the teams as they are currently constituted.  Here are the four pots with my rankings (best to worst) within each pot:

Pot One: Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Benfica, and Porto

Pot Two: Manchester City, Paris St-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, Schalke, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Basel

Pot Three: Bayer Leverkusen, Liverpool, Ajax, CSKA Moscow, Athletic Bilbao, Sporting Lisbon, Galatasaray, and Olympiakos

Pot Four: Roma, Monaco, Anderlecht, APOEL Nicosia, BATE Borisov, Ludogorets Razgrad, Malmo, and Maribor.

This may seem redundant but that means going into the draw I thought the best possible result for Man City was Porto, Olympiakos, and Maribor while the worst possible result was Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, and Roma.  Technically that draw would not be possible because Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen are both German clubs but you get the point of the thought experiment.  Again groups matter because only the top two teams from each group qualify for the knock-out stage.  Here is the full list of the groups for the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League:

Group A: Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo

Group B: Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets

Group C: Benfica, Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen, AS Monaco

Group D: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht

Group E: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, Roma

Group F: FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax, APOEL Nicosia

Group G: Chelsea, Schalke, Sporting Lisbon, Maribor

Group H: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE Borisov

Well as luck would have it, Man City got almost the worst draw possible.  For the second year in a row, Man City are in the same group as Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow.  Instead of having Viktoria Plzeň as the third member of their group this year, unfortunately they drew Roma.

I don't want to sound too defeatist but given Bayern's quality that essentially relegates Man City to playing for second place in the group.  CSKA Moscow is always a tough draw and Roma was placed in Pot Four because they have a lower co-efficient according to UEFA based on their most recent results in European competition but are always a plucky team.  Of all the clubs in Pot Four UEFA coefficient aside, I honestly think Roma should at least be in Pot Three.

In the World Cup, teams play each other once.  In the Champions League, every team plays each other twice: once at home and once on the road for six matches total.  Hopefully Man City will be able to navigate the "Group of Death" as well as the USMNT did at the 2014 World Cup when they advanced out of the group in second place behind Germany but ahead of Ghana and Portugal.  For that to happen, Man City will need to take maximum points at home (three wins would mean nine points) while either winning one match or drawing two matches on the road.

The summer transfer window closes on Monday, September 1, 2014.  The business that Man City does in the last few days if the summer transfer window will go a long way to determining how they perform in the Champions League this season.  Due to running afoul of UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules, Man City was (essentially) forced to sell players in the summer transfer window than it purchased.  Make sure to check back after the summer transfer window closes for my full breakdown of all the moves that Man City made during the summer transfer window to help them chase the quadruple (Capitol One Cup, EPL, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League) this season.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Building The 53 - Roster Moves to 75

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson made a series of moves over the last two days to trim the roster to 75 players by 3 pm CDT on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 in order to comply with NFL rules.  Here is a breakdown of the moves made by Thompson:
- Released (7): Charles Clay (S), Antonio Dennard (CB), Chris Harper (WR), Korey Jones (LB), Ina Liaina (FB), Chase Rettig (WB), and Gerrard Sheppard (WR).
 - Placed on injured reserve (6): Jared Abbrederis (WR), Don Barclay (OT), Rajon Neal (RB), B.J. Raji (DT), Joe Thomas (LB), and Andrew Tiller (G) thus ending their 2014 season.
- Injury Settlement (1): Colt Lyerla (TE).

Much like last year when the Packers went from 90 to 75, none of the players cut were a huge surprise.  I thought Harper was a long-shot to make The 53 but thought he would at least make it past the first round of cuts.  The former 4th round draft pick has been a bit of enigma since joining the Packers last season.  Harper's size makes him an interesting prospect but his shaky hands cost him a spots on The 53 given how many other options the Packers have at wide receiver.

Of the six players placed on injured reserve, Barclay and Raji hurt (no pun intended) the most.  Sure Raji was underwhelming last season but expectations are high this year because he moves back to defensive tackle where he previously thrived.  Plus this year Raji is playing on a one-year, $4 million "prove it" contract after he turned down a long-term deal worth $8 million annually in the middle of last season.  Raji tore his bicep, which cost him the entire 2014 season.  I see Raji either playing for the veteran minimum next year for the Packers or elsewhere if he wants more money.

Losing Barclay to a torn ACL is arguably just as big of a loss as Raji given that Barclay is the preferred backup at every position along the offensive line.  That loss is exacerbated by the fact that unproven starting center JC Tretter is set to miss multiple weeks too so the Packers are forced to slide one of their guards to center or start rookie Corey Linsley.  Barclay is set to be a restricted free agent this off-season so if he recovers well throughout the season that will determine what offer the Packers should extend to Barclay.  My guess right now is that the Packers extend Barclay the lowest possible restricted free agent offer and hope teams pass so they can get him on the cheap for one more year.

The only other notable player put on injured reserve is Abbrederis.  The Packers are deep at wide receiver though so although losing Abbrederis is a bummer, it is not a huge deal because he was going to have to fight to make The 53 anyhow.  If I had to guess right now, I think the Packers will keep five wide receivers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jarrett Boykin, Davante Adams, and Jeff Janis.  I mention that because Boykin and Cobb are set to become free agents after this season so the Packers will need to sort out what guys to pay.  If Abbrederis recovers well and looks to be able to fill the slot receiver role that could mean Boykin and/or Cobb get a low ball offer or play elsewhere next season.

Last but certainly not least, the Packers reached an injury settlement with undrafted rookie free agent tight end Colt Lyerla.  Never has more been written about an undrafted rookie free agent but it was a perfect storm of sorts given the fact that the Packers are trying to replace tight end Jermicahel Finely and that Lyerla has a chance to be the second coming of Rob Gronkownski, his presence in Green Bay has resulted in tons of coverage.  The Packers waived Lyerla with an injury exemption so once he passed through waivers, they could have placed him on injured reserve for all of 2014 and had his services for 2015.  Given all of Lyerla's off-the-field troubles, it seems like that was the logical move to keep him in a routine and out of trouble.  Apparently the Packers did not think that much of Lyerla because according to the reported terms of his injury settlement with the team, after week eight of the regular season, Lyerla can sign with another NFL team.  Lyerla cannot resign with the Packers till week 14 of the regular season because of the NFL rules that govern injury settlements.  If I was in charge, I would have just kept Lyerla on injured reserve all season in hopes of keeping an eye on him in 2014 with an eye towards adding him to The 53 in 2015 but clearly the Packers have a different view.

The decisions above were the easy one.  Thompson still needs to trim 22 more players from the roster by August 30th at 4 pm CDT.  That means that there are a number of players that need to play well tomorrow night against the Chiefs to make The 53.

Building The 15 - The Good, The Mediocre, The Bad, & The Ugly 1.0

Over the last few seasons Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond has done his best to make the Bucks a playoff contender without going into full rebuild mode.  That dual approach was greatly helped when Bucks got the second pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which Hammond used to select Duke freshman small forward/power forward Jabari Parker.  With Parker and The Greek Freak on The 15, assuming they sign extensions with the Bucks after their rookie contracts expire (knock on wood), for the first time since The Big Three left town the Bucks actually have two potential franchise pillars on The 15.  After Parker and The Greek Freak, the rest of The 15 has some interesting pieces that Hammond continues to tinker with in hopes of putting together the right mix of young guys and veterans to (barely) make the playoffs.  Here is my review of Hammond's moves since the 2014 NBA Draft.

The Good:
The Bucks claimed point guard Kendall Marshall after the LA Lakers waived him. I was not as high on Marshall as others going into the 2012 NBA Draft and so far Marshall has been a disappointment, which is probably why the Lakers waived him, but it is way too early to give up on a 23 year-old. Since the Bucks had the worst record in the league they had the first chance to claim Marshall after he was cut by the Lakers.  My guess is that a number of teams put in claims to buy low on Marshall but we will never know if that is actually true.  The move does make me wonder why the Lakers thought they could pass Marshall through waivers and resign him though. Best case scenario the Bucks get a backup point guard to groom behind Brandon Knight in hopes of turning him into a potential starter down the road. Worst case scenario the Bucks include Marshall as a salary filler in a trade or cut him with no salary cap ramifications if they find a better player.  That is a long way of saying that I see no downside in claiming Marshall.

The Mediocre:
The Bucks traded shooting guard/small forward Carlos Delfino, center Miroslav Raduljica, and a 2015 second round pick to the L.A. Clippers for small forward/power forward Jared Dudley and a 2017 first round pick.  Originally I did not think the Bucks gave up a second round pick in the deal, which is why I was higher on the trade yesterday than I am right now.  Both picks are the Clippers' picks so they fall where the Clippers select so odds are that they end up at the end of their respective rounds given the quality of The 15 for the Clippers for the foreseeable future.  A late first round draft pick is a nice assets for the Bucks given their inability to attract marque free agents.  Unfortunately the first round pick comes at the expense of a second round pick, which is not as good of an asset (obviously) but a nice asset nonetheless.  Given how many players the Bucks have under contract for next season, I understand the logic in trading two players for one and a 2015 pick for a 2017 pick.

When you add it all up, the Bucks actually save money this season with Delfino and Raduljica scheduled to earn $4.75 million while Dudley is scheduled to earn $4.3 million.  The 2015-16 season is where it gets interesting because Delfino and Raduljica are again scheduled to earn $4.75 million but both contracts are not guaranteed while Dudley holds a $4.3 million player option.  Even if Dudley picks up that option, it means the Bucks acquired a late first round pick for less than $4 million and a second round pick.  This trade would have been under "The Good" section if the second round pick was not included in the trade.

Given Delfino's injury issues (missed all last season and might miss part of this season), Raduljica might be the more useful of the two players for the Clippers.  Moving to the Bucks, Dudley played well in his last three seasons in Phoenix (2010-11 to 2012-13) averaging roughly 15 PER each season but struggled for the Clippers last season when he posted 8.91 PER.  In fact, Dudley played so bad last season that he couldn't even get on the court in the playoffs despite the Clippers being thin on the wing.  Best case scenario, Dudley plays like he did for the Suns while becoming a locker room leader next season and opts out before the 2015-16 season for one more big free agent deal. Worst case scenario, Dudley struggles and exercises his player option thus eating up $8.6 million in salaries for two seasons of lackluster play.

For those scoring at home, at the 2013 NBA Trade Deadline the Bucks turned Beno Udrih, Tobias Harris, and Doron Lamb into Redick, Gustavo Ayon, and Ish Smith.  Last off-season, the Bucks signed Raduljica to a three-year, $4.5 million contract.  The Bucks, Clippers, and Suns swung a three-team deal last off-season that allowed the Bucks to turn Redick into small forward Caron Butler and a 2015 second round draft pick from the Clippers via a sign-and-trade.  In that same trade, Dudley moved to the Clippers and the Clippers sent combo guard Eric Bledsoe to the Suns.

I presume Udrih would be playing elsewhere since his contract expired after the 2012-13 season so let's exclude him from this analysis.  The tenure for Butler and Redick was rocky to say the least, which is why neither is with the team right now.  Thus would the Bucks rather have Harris and Lamb or Dudley and a late first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft?  I am not as big of a fan of Harris as other are so I would rather have the ladder.

The Bad:
The Bucks signed Jerryd Bayless to a two-year, $6 million guaranteed contact.  That means Bayless will play for his sixth team in seven NBA season. That feels expensive for a guy that posted low teens in PER at everyone one of his stops in the NBA besides 17.7 PER in 31 games for the Toronto Raptors in the 2011-12 NBA season.  Instead of forking over that much for Bayless, I would have offered the mini mid-level exception to combo guard Ramon Sessions.  Not only do I think Sessions is more useful than Bayless but the Bucks could have saved about $3 million over two years in the process.

Truthfully the Bucks should have kept a spot The 15 open for rotating non-guaranteed contracts instead of signing Bayless or Sessions but Sessions is clearly an asset given that the Houston Rockets are interested in acquiring him via a sign and trade so that is the only reason why I even broached the idea. The Bucks need to continue to amassing cost-effective contracts (think Kendall Marshall and Chris Wright) as opposed to overpriced contracts (think Bayless, O.J. Mayo, or Zaza Pachulia). Case and point, the Bucks were able to use Delfino and Raduljica to acquire a first round pick.  I sure don't see that being the case with Bayless.

The Ugly:
Last but certainly not least, the Bucks traded two second round picks to the Brooklyn Nets for the coaching rights of Jason Kidd.  That meant that the Bucks fired head coach Larry Drew after just one season to make way for Kidd.  Trust me, I am not a huge Drew fan but I am worried that Kidd is coming to the Bucks to become a dual head coach and general manager despite the fact that he only has one year of experience doing either job. Sure it is problematic that trading for Kidd cost the Bucks two second round picks (one in 2015 and another in 2018 or 2019) as well as an average annual salary of $4 or $5 million a year for three years but the way the transaction was handled worries me even more.  When the Kidd rumors started to swirl, I broke down in grave detail how much I was against the Bucks trading for Kidd.  I think Hammond agrees with me because the new co-owners Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry pulled off the deal behind Hammond's back.  After the fact, Edens and Lasry admitted that they made a mistake by trading for Kidd without including Hammond in the process but the damage was already done to Hammond and the franchise so I find the apology hollow.

When Herb Kohl owned the Bucks he held veto power (apparently said no to a trade that would have brought Zach Randolph to the Bucks) but I do not think he tinkered that much other than publicly stating that he did not want the Bucks to go into full rebuild mode.  Now the Bucks have new co-owners that clearly want to meddle in their new investment that resulted in them bringing in a new coach that asked for more control over front office decisions after just one season with his former employer that was turned down and is ultimately why he works for the Bucks as opposed to the Nets.  Unfortunately for Hammond the writing is on the wall so he better dust off his resume because I think it is more likely that Kidd is the general manager of the Bucks for the 2015-16 season than Hammond.

With all of the above as the backdrop, here are my current thoughts on how the 16 players stack-up for The 15 for the 2014-15 Milwaukee Bucks:

Point Guard (3): Brandon Knight, Jerryd Bayless, and Kendall Marshall

Shooting Guard (2): Nate Wolters and O.J. Mayo

Small Forward (4): Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jared Dudley, Damien Inglis, and Chris Wright

Power Forward (5): Jabari Parker, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Khris Middleton, and Johnny O'Bryant III

Center (2): Larry Sanders and Zaza Pachulia

The Bucks repeatedly said that they want Inglis to play in the NBA this season, which they confirmed today when they signed him to a three-year contract worth a maximum of $2.75 million.  The first two years of the contract are guaranteed (roughly $850,000 each season) while the Bucks hold a team option for the third year (a little less than $1 million).  I wish the Bucks kept Inglis in Europe one more season because that would allow Marshall and Wright to both stay on The 15 next season.  Unless the Bucks make another move that means either Marshall or Wright will have to be cut before next season.

There are rumors that the Bucks are actively shopping Ilyasova and that teams are asking about Sanders.  If the Bucks move Ilyasova or Sanders now they are selling low though so I hope they hold onto both to see if they can improve next season to turn each into a tastier trade asset.  I don't feel that way about Mayo or Pachulia though so if the Bucks can move either of those guys without taking on more long-term guaranteed money, I am fine with that.  Don't hold your breath though because I have a better chance of joining the Bucks' front office than another NBA team being that gullible.

I hope you enjoyed my first installment of "The Good, The Mediocre, The Bad, & The Ugly" for this off-season for the Bucks.  I am hoping to be able to add "The Great" to the front of the name of the post and drop "The Mediocre, The Bad, & The Ugly"; but that is up to Hammond, Kidd, Edens, Lasry, or whomever is currently in charge of the Bucks.  If the Bucks make any more moves this off-season, make sure to check back in this space for full coverage.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Building The 25 - Brewers Trade for Outfielder Gerardo Parra

There were grumblings that Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin was trying to make a C.C. Sabathia-esque splash at the trade deadline to help the Brewers push The 25 to the next level.  David Price (formerly) of the Tampa Bay Rays was the C.C. Sabathia of this trade deadline given that both are dominate left-handed starting pitchers.  The only difference between 2014 Price and 2008 Sabathia are their contractual situations.  When the Brewers acquired Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians at the 2008 trade deadline, they knew it was a rental for just that season since Sabathia was due to become a free agent at the end of the season.  Conversely, Price is signed through next season so that increases his value slightly over 2008 Sabathia.

The Brewers gave up outfielder Michael Brantley, pitcher Rob Bryson, pitcher Zach Jackson and first-baseman Matt LaPorta to get Sabathia.  At the time LaPorta was the centerpiece of the trade but Michael Brantley (actually the "player to be named later" in the trade that is usually a short-list of guys that the Indians could choose from later) ended up being the best of the bunch.  Ultimately the Rays moved Price to the Detroit Tigers in a three-team deal that also involved the Seattle Mariners. The Rays got left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames from the Tigers as well as infielder Nick Franklin from the Mariners.  The Mariners got center-fielder Austin Jackson from the Tigers.

Just to muddy the waters a little more, the compensation rules were slightly different when the Brewers acquired Sabathia than they are now, which increased Sabathia's value despite the fact that the Brewers knew there was a 1% chance that Sabathia would re-sign with them.  All the Brewers had to do after the season was tender Sabathia a one-year, qualifying offer so they would at least get draft pick compensation for "losing" Sabathia to free agency.  There was virtually no chance that Sabathia was going to accept a one-year offer given how much he could command on the free agent market so the qualifying offer was always a farce.

Ultimately Sabathia signed an eight-year, $186 million contract with the New York Yankees and the Brewers got 39th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft as compensation, which they used to select outfielder Kentrail Davis.  Right now Davis is stuck in Double-A, which is disappointing given his draft status.  Unless Davis can pick things up in the next year, I do not see him as a part of the long-terms plans at the big league level for the Brewers.  That trick to get draft pick compensation is no longer an option under the new collective bargaining agreement.  In order to get draft pick compensation under the new CBA, a player has to be on The 25 for at least one season.  That means the Tigers will get draft pick compensation if they lose Price after next season but the Brewers would not have gotten draft pick compensation if they lost Sabathia in 2014 like they did in 2008.

Instead of making a splash, Melvin made a slight ripple when he acquired outfielder Gerardo Parra from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor-leaguers Anthony Banda (left-handed pitcher) and Mitch Haniger (outfielder).  Although Parra has struggled offensively this season hitting just .259, he is two-time Gold Glove winner so we know he can field his position.  Parra also gives the Brewers a left-handed bat in the outfield that they desperately need since each of their starters (Kris Davis, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun) hits from the right side.  In terms of Parra's contract situation, the Brewers have him under team control through 2015 if they like but if Parra declines that tender after the 2015 season and signs elsewhere, at least the Brewers can get draft pick compensation if they tender him for the next two seasons.

In terms of what the Brewers gave up, Hainger is clearly the better of the two prospects.  The Brewers drafted Hainger 38th overall in the 2012 MLB Draft and is one of the better prospects in their somewhat disappointing farm system. So far Hainger has been alright hitting .255 in Double-A this season.  This trade finally allows the Diamondbacks to get Banda.  Originally the Diamondbacks drafted Banda in the 33rd round of the 2011 MLB Draft but Banda did not sign so he entered the 2012 MLB Draft and the Brewers took Banda in the 10th round of that draft.  So far Banda has been decent in 2014 posting a 3.66 ERA in Single-A so far this season.

Hainger projects as a utility outfielder while Banda does not project as anything better than a left-handed reliever so that doesn't seem like too much to give up to get a legitimate 4th outfielder, especially since their current 4th outfielder Logan Schafer is batting a measly .183 this season.  Plus, current starting left-fielder Kris Davis is hitting just .232 against right-handers while Parra is hitting .271 against right handers so I see the Brewers platooning Davis and Parra the rest of 2014 with Davis starting against left-handers and Parra starting against right-handers.

If Melvin just held onto outfielder Nori Aoki instead of trading him for left-hander Will Smith, there would have been no need to acquire Parra.  At the time of the Aoki/Smith trade I hated it but given how well Smith has pitched this year out of the bullpen, the Aoki/Smith trade does not look as bad now as I thought it would.  Landing Parra is not a Sabathia-esque acquisition but clearly the asking price for Price (no pun intended) was too high for the Brewers given that their farm system is so devoid of high-end talent that I am not even sure they could have made the Rays a legitimate offer for Price.  Truthfully it is just nice to see the Brewers in a pennant race and thus buyers at the trade deadline instead of sellers.

Although training camp is starting for the Green Bay Packers so I will have a ton of Packers posts, I will do my best to post more on the Brewers thru the end of the season given that they are in the midst of one of the most pleasantly surprising seasons in the last decade as they make a legitimate run at winning the N.L. Central and making the playoffs for the first time since 2011.