Thursday, November 29, 2012

Catch Up

Catch Up

What's up? It's been a while.

While I've been silent, the Bucks have been making plenty of noise.

So how about we talk about them?

A buzzer-beater three by Jennings in the home opener (a game I should have been blogging at for the Bucks “Fan Blogger” contest....can't let it go). A blown game in Charlotte that began a three game skid. A comeback OT loss in Miami. Most recently, a 27 point comeback win over the Bulls featuring the bench (Doron Lamb!).

It's been a season of ups and downs for the Bucks. At 7-5 they find themselves 1.5 in front of the Bulls for first place in the division. So where do they stand? How have we gotten here?

5 Good Signs
  1. The Bucks have shown some great resiliency, most notably in their comebacks against the Heat and the Bulls. The Heat jumped out to an early 18 point lead in the first half of that game. The Bucks closed the half strong; a three by Dalembert (first of career) made it 44-46. It was Brandon Jennings that kept them alive in that game. Against the Bulls, it was the bench that fought back for the Deer. With just over 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Skiles replaced his starters with Udrih, Lamb, Dunleavy, Ilyasova, and Udoh. The reserve group got back 27 points and eventually won that game 93-92.
  1. Brandon Jennings must feel something for Monta Ellis. Going into the season, there was worry that the two couldn't coexist together. All the “big brother-little brother, meeting together, living in the same apartment complex” stuff didn't do it for me. I wanted to see it on the court. Some saw Brandon Jennings shove on Bradley Beal as a cheap shot, but I saw it as proof. In the final 20 seconds of the Bucks win over the Wizards, Monta Ellis was fouled hard on a breakaway layup by Bradley Beal. Brandon Jennings raced into the frame and shoved Beal to the ground for his hard foul. Smart play? No. But I liked it. Even if it doesn't prove that they can coexist, it does tell me that Jennings has some feelings of camaraderie for Ellis. Also, Jennings affectionately calling Ellis “Tay” is cute.
  1. Samuel Dalembert has been everything we expected. The Bucks needed a presence down low. They resigned F Ersan Ilysova and drafted F John Henson. The biggest impact, though, was the upgrade at the center position. Samuel Dalembert has helped the Bucks improve their interior defense and rebounding. Last year, the Bucks had a 48.7 REBR, good for 26th in the NBA. They are 17th this year with a 49.4 REBR.
  1. I was worried that Skiles wouldn't be able to coach a fast pace game and would waste the quickness and talent of his backcourt. I was wrong, though. The Bucks are 2nd in the NBA in pace, using 97.3 possession per game.
  1. With their increased pace, the Bucks have been able to continue to take care of the ball. Jennings is a master at retaining the rock, and has continued his retention skills (this article is going downhill fast...) this season. The Bucks rank in the top 5 with a 12.5 turnover ratio. Jennings also leads the league in steals, which only helps the Bucks cause.

5 Bad Signs
  1. #EllisLastSecondThrees I invented that hashtag. Not very creative, I know. It speaks volumes, though. The Bucks seem content to settle for outside shots and contested jumpers at the ends of games. Ellis scored 31 points in the Bucks 102-98 loss to the Bobcats, but struggled to score efficiently at the end of the tight game. Similarly, with the Bucks final shot and a chance to win the game in Miami, Ellis pulled up for a contested three pointer that missed. The Bucks lost that game. Again, against the Bulls on Friday he settled for a three pointer in the final minute of a close game. He missed, and the Bucks dropped the game 96-83. The fourth consecutive game, in Chicago against the Bulls, Ellis had the last Bucks attempt of the 1st and 2nd quarters. Both were three pointers that missed. He's a 19% three point shooter. He needs to use his quickness to score in clutch time, not his subpar shooting ability.
  1. The Bucks don't shoot free throws. This became very evident in Friday's contest with the Bulls. The Bulls were 25-26 from the line while the Bucks were just 7-10. The Bucks attempt the second fewest free throws per game in the league (18.2).
  1. They might be too flamboyant. It seems to me (opinion coming) that the Bucks got high on themselves very quickly. A blow out of the Celtics in the opener and a game winning three had Milwaukee hyped. Jennings was playing phenomenal basketball, as was Sanders. Jennings and Ellis were working together brilliantly. But they bought it. To me (again, opinion here) the Bucks are worried about highlights and stats because they think they're a really good team. They are not a really good team. Don't get me wrong, they're good. They have the potential to make the playoffs and even to make a little noise. But they aren't a top tier team, not by any means. The only way this team makes a name for themselves is if they can do the little things night in and night out.
  1. The Deer are right about in the middle of the pack (pun) when it come to three point attempts. They attempt 19.1 threes a game. This was great at the start of the year when Jennings was shooting well and Dunleavy had something like a .999% from long range. But now that the shooting has cooled off, it has really cooled off. The Bucks have dropped among the worst in the league in the 3P%, shooting a measly .29%. With their size and their playing style, they need to shoot better from distance.
  1. Playing time. Playing time, playing time, playing. Deepest team in the league. Period. Ok, I'll start using complete sentences, but you get my point! The Bucks are deep. I am comfortable with almost (*cough* Przybilla) anyone in the game. But after John Henson's coming out party and Doron Lamb's recent success, where do you give time to keep everyone happy? How does Lamb fit in with Ellis and Jennings? When does LRMAM get minutes and what does that mean for Harris? How do you handle Ersan's struggles? When Drew Gooden returns, how does he fit in with all the forwards? These are tough questions that I don't think I can answer (see earlier post on rotations), but I am hopeful that Skiles can. That hope may be wishful thinking, as I always struggle to understand how he gives minutes and why his rotations are as they are...but I digress.

Don't give up on the Bucks. Already this season we've had our ups and downs. This team has too much talent to ever go away easily. There are going to be nights, or even just minutes, where they will wow the pants off of you. There will also be nights where you want to turn the channel and watch Honey Boo Boo instead. My plead for you is this: keep the game on and keep believing in this team.

Go Bucks!

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Stats from and

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Bucks Thus Far

The Bucks entered the season as one of the most intriguing teams in the league, and have thus far lived up to the hype. Six games into the preseason, they are still working out lineup and playing time bugs. Despite being just 2-4, the Bucks have been close in every contest. The duality of this team is exciting at some points, and enraging at others.

Unlike a lot of other fans, I have been very impressed with Samuel Dalembert. Upon his acquisition, I expected an old, immobile, one-dimensional shot blocker, but I have seen much more. As advertised, Dalembert has been good defensively, but he has also shown promise on the offensive end of the floor. His outside shot has been a bright spot in his game (not great, but it's evident) and he's shown some hustle and youthfulness around the basket.

Another positive has been the outside shot of Brandon Jennings. Jennings is shooting 41% from long range, despite an 0-6 night in Toronto. Monta Ellis has also been sharp from deep, shooting an impressive 47%. This, however, will also be a negative to be discussed later in this post.

The Bucks have been terribly inefficient as a team and can not seem to win tight games. One major disappointment of mine that has, in turn, led to their inefficiency has been the infatuation with the outside shot. Sure, the Bucks have been shooting alright from the three point line, but I expected the Jennings-Ellis tandem to increase each others eFG% by getting out in transition or slashing to get easier buckets. Both players have the ability to get in the paint, and get to the line, consistently, yet the settle for lower percentage jumpers. So far, the offense has looked disjunctive.

Alright, Coach, what do you have for us? Scott Skiles is notorious for his defensive minded play, but that is far from what we've seen from this team. We knew the small guard combo would have problems defending, so the Bucks went out and improved the front court with the additions of Dalembert and Henson (oh, and Pryzbilla....almost forgot). Still, the defense has been sub-par. The Bucks have given up 100.8 ppg in their four losses. This would make them 27th in the league last year.

Perhaps the most glaring hole in the defense is the poor defensive play of the guards. Opposing guards are averaging over 48 points a game in Bucks losses. It has been difficult for the Jennings-Ellis duo to stay in front of anybody, despite the opponents size. Even Nate Robinson put up 24 points. Coach Skiles and the Bucks need to find a way to combat this struggle.

Despite all this, the Bucks could still be in for a good season. They have played very well at times, and are as deep as any team in the league. They have yet to play a game with a full roster, which may have hindered them at the end of tight games. Also worth mentioning, the L.A. Lakers are 0-6 in this preseason. It's only preseason, the real stuff starts November 2!

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Stats and information from:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bucks Rotation

 With the NBA preseason kicking off for the Bucks on Tuesday, I wanted to offer some rotation ideas. But then I looked at the roster. How deep are the Bucks?!

I love this roster, and think they can make noise this year (though I am notoriously a homer...). I will offer, in some unorganized manner, what little rotation ideas I gleaned looking at Alex Boeder's article on eFG% (

  1. Starters
    Jennings, Ellis, Illyasova, and Dalembert are all but locks to start for the Bucks this year, but who will start at that SF spot? My immediate thought was Mbah A Moute (LRMAM) because he makes an otherwise average defensive lineup a good one. But reports of LRMAM's slow recovery from his off-season knee surgery may cause him to be bumped from the starting group for a bit. Fans want to see Harris get the nod because of his upside and his head turning performance in summer league, but I disagree. Jennings and Ellis will see the majority of the touches in the starting group, and both have below average eFG%. To help make the starting group more efficient and productive, they need another player with a high percentage, someone like Mike Dunleavy (who led the team) over Harris who had an average eFG%.
  2. First In
    If/when LRMAM rejoins the starting lineup, then Dunleavy is the clear 6th man in my opinion. With Dunleavy in and Udrih spelling one of the guards, you can afford to use Gooden, Sanders, or Udoh. Udrih had a below average eFG% last year, but has been well above average four of his six NBA seasons, and as playing team increases so will his output ( The aforementioned forwards, however, have poor eFG%, but offer a lot to the Bucks defense and depth. Getting those guys in the game with an effective scoring group will keep the Bucks offense and defense well balanced.
  3. Marquis Daniels
    It looks like the Bucks intend to use Daniels primarily as their defensive off-guard. This not only gives the Bucks better defensive options by position, but it also increases minutes for Daniels and Harris, who is fighting for time in a crowded forwards group.
  4. All These Forwards...
    The Bucks have too many power forwards. Period. Illyasova, Gooden, Henson, Udoh, and Sanders will be looking for minutes at the position. Illysavoa has the new, big contract so he'll be the favorite for time there. Gooden should get time as the backup center, but will see good time at the PF spot as well. Hopefully, Henson will make the transition to the NBA and be a great backup option at PF, but that remains to be seen. Udoh is a good option as a deeper bench backup and I'm comfortable with him getting some minutes, but not extended time. Sanders is a great athlete and looks to be much improved this season, but I still don't think he's poised for a break out season any time soon. At this position, he should see limited minutes. He may see some time at center.
  5. But the Forwards...
    Much has been made about the Jennings, Ellis guard tandem. As they go, the team will go. I agree. Unfortunately, according to last years stats, the guards had the worst combined eFG% by position. The small forwards had the best combined average. Look for Skiles to find ways to get these guys (LRMAM, Dunleavy, Harris) minutes and integrate them into the offense.

Also, let it be known that I am a big fan of Doron Lamb and think he should get a bunch of time. He's going to be a good role player for the Bucks, and wherever he finds himself in the NBA in his career.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Brewers 2012 recap, a glance to 2013

      The Milwaukee Brewers 2012 season was a real head-scratcher. A rocky start...well not so much a rocky start as a bad five months...found the Brewers struggling for air as the season neared September. The bullpen was a disaster, and the starting pitching never completely clicked either. Injuries devastated every area of the team. Major contributors to the starting pitching, the bullpen, defense, and the batting lineup all fell victim to the injury bug early on. Things were bad. They were really bad, so bad that the Brewers traded away pitching ace Zack Greinke and moved pieces around to begin grooming for the future. But something clicked in September. The Brewers dominated down the stretch and found themselves coming from 12.5 games out of the wild card, to just 1.5 by late September. Unfortunately, the surge was all for naught as the Cardinals took advantage of an easier close to the season and ran away with the final wild card spot.

      The way the season ended left the Brewers with a lot of questions. Are we as bad as we played for the majority of the season? Are these young pitchers as good as they played in September? Who plays first base, shortstop next year? Let's look at how the Brewers got to this position, and where they need to go to get back into playoff contention in the future.

The Past
      The Crew were the talk of baseball at the end of the 2011 season, winning the division, reaching the NLCS, the whole Ryan Braun MVP and steroid thing, and losing Prince Fielder (and what would prove to be crucial bullpen pitchers) to free agency. The Brewers used the off season to fill their holes. Aramis Ramirez was picked up as a power hitter to fill in at 3rd, sure handed SS Alex Gonzalez improved the defense, and Mat Gamel came in to replace Fielder at 1st. They also added to their outfield depth with Japanese star Norichika Aoki.

      I, for one, thought they had built themselves an even better ball club than the year before. The defense was improved, and Fielder's production could easily be replaced with the Gamel/Ramirez combination. The majority of the season, however, proved otherwise.

The Defense
      The Brewers committed the 9th most errors in all of baseball during the 2011 season, but improved to 18th this year. Every member of the 2011 infield (Fielder, Weeks, Betancourt, McGehee)was in the top five of most errors by their position. A nearly complete remodeling of the infield improved the defense. The additions of Ramirez, Gonzalez, and Gamel were obvious improvements defensively. Even when Gonzalez and Gamel went down with injury, their back ups played well defensively as well (cast includes: Hart, Ishikawa, Izturis, Ransom, and others).

The Pitching
      Marquee trades prior to the 2011 season made the Brewers pitching staff dominant. The Crew expected similar output from the same cast in 2012, but to no avail. Narveson was injured early, forcing long reliever Marco Estrada to assume a starting role. Marcum missed significant time during the middle of the season due to injury, as did Estrada. The Brewers blew up the pitching staff after seemingly falling completely out of contention. During one stretch, Gallardo was the only starting pitcher still in the rotation.

      Here's where it gets interesting: the rookies that filled in the rotation were good, really good. Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers, Tyler Thornburg, and Wily Peralta all showed that they are ready to make the jump to the big leagues. Despite early struggles and throwing a bunch of rookies, the Brewers ended the season with some relatively positive numbers. They led the entire league with 1402 strikeouts, a club record.

      The bullpen was less interesting. Other than strikeouts, the Brewers finished near the bottom in every other major statistical area for pitching, largely (though not entirely) in part to the bullpen struggles. Following the 2011 season where John Axford was untouchable in the 9th and the Hawkins, Saito, K-rod show turned baseball into a five inning game, 2012 was a ginormous step backwards. The revolving door of closers and the inability to find anybody who could consistently get outs left every fan to cringe when a starter was pulled in a close game.

The Hitting
      I'll be the first to say “I told you so” to anyone who doubted the batting lineup entering the 2012 season. The Brewers expected a drop off with the departure of Fielder, but put up even better numbers this season. They were better in every offensive stat other than walks and strikeouts. I expect them to continue to put up good numbers for years to come, as well.

      Ryan Braun had another MVP type season, hopefully putting to rest some of the “steroid” talk (though the allegations were that he used 'roids to heal from an injury, not bulk up...but I won't be the first to correct you!). Aramis Ramirez was also a bright spot. After an expected slow start, he came around and was a force in the lineup. Lucroy continued to improve and showed he will be a serious threat. Even though he spent time on the disabled list, Lucroy average .320 on the year and was clutch.

The Future
      Upper management will have some big decisions to make this offseason. As of now, Gallardo is the only sure-fire starter. It's assumed that Fiers will join him, and hopefully Narveson will recover from surgery well and re-join the rotation. Peralta, Rogers, and Thornburg will get long looks from the coaching staff.
It sounds like Hart will remain at first, and Aoki in RF. I like this decision, though I would like Aoki to hit closer to .300+. Logan Schaefer may get looks as well with Hart leaving the outfield. With Hart at first, Gamel will probably fight for time as a backup at 1st and 3rd.

      Shortstop is the other intriguing position. Young, up and coming star Jean Segura was acquired in the Zack Greinke trade. He showed he has a sufficient arm and an encouraging developing bat, but he has a second baseman's body and is prone to errors. The Brewers can pick up Alex Gonzalez's contract for another year if they chose, but a less expensive and less risky option may be available via free agency.

      Finally, the Brewers need to address the bullpen. I am a firm believer that sending Estrada back to the bullpen will make a big difference. Melvin seems committed to Axford, so the Brewers need to address a 7th and 8th inning guy. The Brewers could resign K-rod for significantly cheaper than his current $8 million contract if they think he can bounce back from his less than stellar year. Regardless, the bullpen needs two more solid options for the Brewers to be a viable division contender.

Here are my immediate thoughts on the roster next year:

RP Yovanni Gallardo
RP Mike Fiers
RP Wily Peralta
RP Mark Rogers
LP Chris Narveson
C Jonathan Lucroy
1B Corey Hart
2B Rickie Weeks
3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Jean Segura
LF Ryan Braun
CF Carlos Gomez
RF Norichika Aoki

RP Marco Estrada
RP Tyler Thornburg
RP Jim Henderson
LP Manny Parra
RP Francisco Rodriguez
RP John Axford
LP a guy like Randy Choate?
RP a guy like Octavio Dotel?
LP Juan Perez (not sold on him, but we need more lefties) or RP John Stinson (is he ready to make the jump to the bigs?)

OF Logan Schaefer
1B Mat Gamel
SS Alex Gonzalez (re-structure contract?)
C Martin Maldonado
UT Nick Punto or Ryan Theriot

      Obviously, even in my semi-non-cash-restricted scenario where I can get whatever players I want, there are still question marks. Even though Melvin said he wasn't playing on making a big free agent splash this year, it should be a very interesting off-season. The Brewers will be back in business if they can address a couple of problem issues (mainly the bullpen and starting pitching). Even so, in a division with the Reds and Cardinals (yes, the Pirates I suppose...) they won't win the division in 2013. Thankfully, the once deemed “emptied” farm system actually shows really good promise and has been producing well in their opportunities in the bigs.

      One thing's for sure, I'll still be watching and “rolling out the barrel” in 2013 and for years to come. Go Crew!

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Stats and information from: via Adam McCalvy

Monday, September 24, 2012

Brewers still in good position

      Despite the Cubs failure to steal winnable games from the Cardinals, the Nationals domination of the Brewers in game two, and the Crew's failure to make up any ground, the Brewers still have themselves in a great position. With ten games remaining, the Brewers are still just 2.5 games back.

      If you looked at the Brewers schedule a month ago, you probably wouldn't have given them much of a chance on their current road trip. With consecutive road series against the Pirates, Nationals, and Reds the Crew finds themselves 5-1 with four games remaining. That's nothing to complain about!

      If the Cardinals drop just one game in their series with the Astros, the Brewers can afford two losses in the remaining four games of this trip. This will put them just 3.0 games out of the second wild card spot (WC2). In the final six games of the season, the tables are turned on the Cardinals. The Brewers finish with two home series and six winnable games against the Astros and Padres whilst the Cardinals finish with the Nationals and Reds.

      For the Brewers to complete the climb to the postseason they will need help, but not luck. (Assuming they are only 3.0 games out) If the Cardinals lose both series, as they statistically should, they will drop four games. The Brewers then, need to go 5-1 in their final six games to force a one game playoff with the Cardinals.

See how doable this is? #WeBrewlieve
Shout out to Tien for inspiring me to blog more frequently, also for inspiring me to use the word “whilst” in this blog. I am easily inspired...

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Uecker's County Stadium Closing Speech

This was hard for me to find online, so I thought I'd type it out and post it.

Bob Uecker was Master of Ceremonies at County Stadium's closing ceremonies. He closed with this short speech. The famous line "It was here that boys became men..." is heard before every Brewers pre-game show on 620 WTMJ. 

"Well, here you are, County Stadium. Fourty-eight years have slipped away like the blink of an eye. Yet the memories housed within your walls will live on forever. At first, you were called a jewel in the waiting, though soon a suiter would come calling. You promised to welcome all who visited and they came first by the thousands, then by the millions. A champion was born in your midst, and you stood proud when the rest of the world wondered how. Yet, those good times would not last. Broken hearted, unwanted emptiness, became sadness. Yet, you never asked why. For perhaps, just perhaps, you alone knew that the spring would bloom again. Oh, how you have changed in so many ways, yet one thing remains: a bond between heroes and fans and an ambition to succeed. It was here that boys became men, men became champions, and champions became legends. It is a very sad time for me. For I have been here as a fan, as a player, and for the last thirty years as a broadcaster. But tonight, tonight is the final curtain. It's time to say goodbye. We will never forget you, for what was will always be. So long old friend, and good night everybody."  

-Bob Uecker 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Road to the Postseason

The Brewers improbable fight back into playoff contention finds them 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card with 16 games remaining. The next 10, however, could decide their fate.

Beginning tonight at 6:05pm, the Crew begins a crucial, grueling 10 game road trip. Tonight is the first of three against the Pirates, who are tied in the standings with the Brewers at 2.5 games back. After three games in Pittsburgh, the Brewers play four against the NL best Washington Nationals and then three against the divisional leading Cincinnati Reds. For the Brewers to remain in contention, they will need to find at least seven wins on this road trip. They finish the year with the Astros and Padres at home.

The importance of the road trip is heightened when you examine other schedules. Only the Dodgers and the Cardinals (current Wild Card leaders) stand in the Brewers way. The Dodgers schedule is nearly identical to the Brewers. They will take on the Nationals, Reds, and Padres during a nine game road trip and finish the year with the Rockies and Giants. The incumbent Cardinals are a different story. They have nine games let with the Astros and Cubs and finish the year with Washington and Cincinnati at home. Their considerably easier schedule gives them a leg up and good chance to hold off the competition for the final Wild Card spot.

To recap:
Wild Card Contender Brewers Cardinals Dodgers Pirates
Opponent (number of games in series) @Pittsburgh (3) Houston (3) @Washington (3) Milwaukee (3)

@Washington (4) @Chicago Cubs(3) @Cincinnati (3) @Houston (3)

@Cincinatti (3) @Houston (3) @San Diego (3) @NYM (4)

Houston (3) Washington (3) Colorado (3) Cincinnati (3)

San Diego (3) Cincinatti (3) San Francisco (3) Atlanta (3)

I see each team finishing as follows:
Brewers: 9-7 (83-79)
Cardinals: 9-6 (86-76)
Dodgers: 6-9 (82-80)
Pirates: 6-10 (80-82)

The Cardinals have to be the favorite to hold on to the last spot. Whoever wins the Brewers/Pirates series will have the best chance to knock them out. The Dodgers have too difficult a schedule to make up ground like the other teams will. The standings will look like this at the end of the regular season:

The Brewers have relied on unknown pitching prospects during their run. If they can continue to get solid starts from guys like Fiers and Peralta and can maintain the consistency out of the bullpen, they'll have a shot. I believe that will unlikely, but we'll know for sure after this road trip.

Go Brewers!

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Young Bucks

      This season may be “playoff or bust” for GM John Hammond and head coach Scott Skiles, who are both entering contract years, but it is by no means the case for the rest of the team. Sure, the Bucks would like to get back to the playoffs, but so would every team. What I'm saying here is this: if the Bucks don't make the playoffs this year, don't give up on the team and blow it up. Here's why...

      The Bucks are young. If, by the end of this year, John Henson would make the starting lineup at center (doubtful, but for the sake of my argument we'll roll with it), their lineup would consist of Jennings (age 23), Ellis (27), Harris (20), Ilyasova (25), and Henson (22). (All the ages listed here are the player's ages at the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season). That is a young team with a ton of talent and upside.

      Not only is their starting line up young, they have a relatively youthful bench at each position as well. At the guard position, rookie Doron Lamb is just 21. At the forward position, Udoh is 25, Sanders is 24, and Mbah a Moute is 26. That's youthful depth at every position.

      The addition of veteran contributors at every position is why I think the Bucks will not only be good for years to come, but will make the playoffs this year. True point guard Beno Udrih is 30, forward/guard Mike Dunleavy is 32, forward Drew Gooden is 31, and centers Samuel Dalembert and Joel Przybilla are 31 and 33.

      If the Bucks can stay healthy, I think the Deer are to be Feared once again. I will boldly predict them to be 6th in the East this year.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Bucks Offseason

      The Bucks are close. They're about 2 solid contributors away from being a legitimate playoff team. Here's a look at the current roster:

PG's: Brandon Jennings, Beno Udrih
SG's: Monta Ellis, Doron Lamb
SF's: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Mike Dunleavy, Tobias Harris
PF's: Drew Gooden, Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh, John Henson
C's: Samuel Dalembert

       Priority #1 is re-signing F Ersan Illyasova, but so far it sounds like Ersan is more than willing to pack up and leave Milwaukee. If the Bucks can't resign Illyasova, they can turn to SF Carlos Delfino, but I'd be content if they let him go too.
       WITH Ersan, their predicament is pretty good. If free agent SG O.J. Mayo is cheap enough and willing to come off the bench, the Bucks should give him a look. A bigger signing like that will prohibit the Bucks from signing any other big name free agents. If they add Mayo, they can move some of their 1,000 forwards. Drew Gooden's value is probably at his highest since the Bucks acquired him. Veteran Gooden and young shot blocker Larry Sanders may have some decent trade value together. If the Bucks could move the pair for a decent back up center. If these moves were possible, their roster would look like this:

PG's: Jennings, Udrih
SG's: Ellis, O.J. Mayo, Lamb
SF's: Mbah a Moute, Dunleavy, Harris
PF's: Illyasova, Udoh, Henson
C's: Dalembert, (another center...)
with room for more additions

       The Bucks roster then has a lot of talent and starts to look really explosive.
       WITHOUT Ersan, their predicament is a whole lot worse (and I'm not even a huge Ersan fan). Now they still have a deep pool of forwards, but not much talent there. They are thin at C and SG. If the Bucks fail to re-sign Illyasova, they have a lot of pieces to find via free agency or with some trades.

So go re-sign Ersan!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bucks 2012 NBA Draft Options

      The Bucks neither won nor lost in this years NBA Draft Lottery. As predicted, they were selected the 12th overall pick. After a losing season (31-35) and with a poor recent draft history (see earlier blog entry), this years draft is more important to the franchise than any other draft in sports history (ok...maybe not that important, but still pretty important). So what direction do the Bucks turn?
Most recently, the Bucks have been in contact with Connecticut center Andre Drummond. The 7-footer may be the only true center in the draft, a position the Bucks need help at desperately. Drummond has been projected high in the draft, but could also fall to the Bucks because of his work ethic. Rumor has it that the Bucks had talked with the Bobcats about trading up to the number two pick, probably to get Drummond.
       If the Bucks need to trade up in the draft, who's expendable? Ellis has already expressed plans to leave Milwaukee at the end of this coming season, so it would be beneficial to the Bucks to get some long term value from him. Gooden has been shopped around the league already. Though he's aging, a good statistical season last year may have his value at it's highest level in some time. Aside from these players, everyone else (in my opinion) either has no trade value or is not expendable.
       So back to my original intentions here: what do the Bucks do with the 12th pick in this draft? I would like to see the Bucks continue to play a running, fast paced type of offense, a la the Phoenix Suns of the past. In this case, they wouldn't need a prototypical NBA center like Drummond. I would rather see the Deer go in one of these directions:

Perry Jones III – P. Jones would be a great fit at PF if the Bucks should choose to play an uptempo style. He has a similar body and skill set to Kevin Durant when he was chosen 2nd in the 2007 NBA Draft. Durant registered for the draft at 6'10”, 215 lbs. Jones is a bit bigger at 6'11”, 235 lbs. ( Jones is athletic and long like Durant, but is not as good of a perimeter scorer or ball handler. The Bucks could use some explosive players to compliment their endless role players. Perry Jones can be that guy. His soft touch makes him good around the basket and going at the rim, but scouts want him to develop his shot to become a more consistent scorer.

Terrence Jones – Terrance Jones has a similar body and skill set as Lebron James when he was selected 1st in the 2003 Draft. Lebron was 6'8”, 245 lbs. T. Jones registered at 6'9”, 252. T. Jones has a capable jump shot (albeit streaky) and can put the ball on the floor and beat defenders to the rim. Scouts say he has the skills and ability to play the 3 in the NBA, but is better suited for a 4 in an uptempo offense (my vision for the Bucks).

       By comparing these guys to Durant and James, I'm not saying they're going to come in and be MVP's, but it does show that they have the gifts and potential to be stars at the NBA level. Both players would be explosive 3 or 4's for the Bucks. The Bucks could start Jennings, Ellis, Delfino, a Jones, and Gooden. Though they would still lack a center, they would be a tough offensive group to slow down.

The Bucks should NOT pick:
Tyler Zeller – He's another soft, role player. He could be a good answer for their lack of a center, but I don't see him being much better than a Joel Pryzbilla type.

A guard – Unless they plan on dealing Ellis, it would be stupid to draft another guard. They are stacked at the position already and have plenty of needs to address elsewhere. Rivers, Beal, Marshall, and the like are going to be good NBA players, but wouldn't help the Bucks. (Again, only if they plan on hanging on to Ellis)

Hopefully the Bucks will keep up with the Joneses and take my advice!
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stats from

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Andy Moye to Brevard County

Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect Andy Moye has been promoted from the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to the Brevard County Manatees. Moye was 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in 8 games with the Rattlers. He had 8 BB to his 33 SO's.

stats from

Brewer's Roster Moves

      Recently, much has been made about a potential Brewers-Josh Hamilton union. The Brewers are one of the possible suitors for Hamilton because of their low guaranteed payroll for 2013.

      Other fans want priority placed on resigning pitching ace Zack Greinke. Both Greinke and Hamilton will take up a large portion of the payroll, so the Brewers won't be able to add both.

      Still other fans want the Brewers to blow up the current roster. Trade Greinke, Marcum, Weeks, Hart, and K-rod for younger position players. This group of fans believes a few position players, teamed with the plethora of young pitching, can bring the Brewers back to the top in only a few short years.

      No question, Attanasio and Melvin will have much to debate as this season progresses and throughout the offseason. But what course of action will they take?

      This will depend on the Brewers success this season. If they can right the ship and get back in the playoff hunt, the Crew will most likely not blow up the team, but play for another post-season run. If they continue to struggle and fall out of contention as the trade deadline approaches, they may elect to trade and get younger.

      To me, adding Josh Hamilton adds nothing but a good story to the Brewers. The addition of Hamilton will mean the Brewers will not resign Greinke, Marcum, or K-rod. They will also be adding another outfielder to a stacked OF group. Braun, Gomez, Hart, Aoki, and Morgan are all quality OF's already.

      More sense could be made of the “rebuild” choice for the Brewers. The Crew's minor league affiliates are filled with good pitching prospects. Wily Peralta and Tyler Thornburg are developed pitchers in the Brewers AAA and AA clubs, while recent draft picks Jed Bradley and Taylor Jungmann pitch high-A ball. By trading some high value pieces on this years team – like Greinke, Marcum, and K-rod, who are all free agents after this season – and adding some poisition players, this team could be a contender again in three or four years.

      Of course, this plan will mean a few years of losing baseball in Milawukee.

      Regardless of the Brewers choice, there are going to be some angered or frustrated fans. Attanasio and Melvin have done nothing but good things for the organization in the last few years, and have earned the trust of their fans. Hopefully, the aggressive minded Attanasio won't be temped by Josh Hamilton, but will pursue quality prospects that will rejuvenate an empty farm system. The Brewers have the key pieces to be good for several years. Braun, Gallardo, and Lucroy are All-Star players at important positions. With the incoming pitching and a few more infield prospects, the Brewers could be very good for several more years.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Brewer's Lineup

      The Brewers are desperate for offense. It doesn't help that their one and two hitters consist of Weeks (.174), Gomez (.280), Aoki (.211), and Morgan (.169). Gomez has been a bright spot at the top of the order, but is on the 15-day DL with a sore hamstring.
      In Weeks' defense, he's top 10 in the MLB with walks (20). Regardless, the top of the order needs help.

This is my proposed changes for the Brewers lineup (with a healthy Gomez):
  1. Gomez (.280)
  2. Lucroy (.303)
  3. Braun (.288)
  4. Ramirez (.215)
  5. Hart (.247)
  6. Conrad (.000)/Green (.200)/Ishikawa (.222)
  7. Weeks (.174)
  8. Izturis (.179)
  9. Pitcher

      Gomez is a prototypical lead off hitter. He has a lot of speed and is more of a contact hitter. Aoki can fill that spot until Gomez returns. Lucroy in the 2-hole is high for a catcher, but he's the best hitter on the team not named Ryan Braun. He takes a lot of pitches and is capable of moving runners. This will put more runners in scoring position for Braun.
      Ramirez has had a slow start, no surprise. He'll be fine in the clean up role as the season progresses. I'd like to see Hart there, but he has said that he's uncomfortable as the fourth hitter. When Kottaras (.310) plays, switch him and Hart. Hart will then hit second and Kottaras fifth.
      I'd prefer the Brewers to give either Conrad or Green a chance to start at first base for a while, preferably Green so that Conrad can spell Weeks at second. But any of those three guys will do an average job at first. Weeks prefers to hit in the lead off spot, but with a .174 BA, he's not in a position to be calling the shots. Bump him down in the lineup until he proves himself.
      Izturis is a terrible hitter, but he's the only option as of now. There are two easy outs for opposing pitchers at the bottom of this lineup.

      The Brewers lack of offense comes down to the poor production from the top of the lineup. They have to make some changes to get the team in gear. A radical lineup change may be just what the offense needs to start hitting again.

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stats from

Problems with Braun's three homer game

      The Brewers opened a three game series with the Padres yesterday in San Diego. Padre's “PETCO Park” is not known to be a hitter's ball park, but apparently no one told Ryan Braun.
      Randy Wolf gave up a run in the second, so the Brewers would have to play from behind. In the fourth, Ryan Braun answered with a solo shot that knotted the game at 1-1. The Brewers would add two more in the inning to take a 3-1 lead that they would never surrender. In the very next inning, Braun hit a two run home run.
      Then again, in his third consecutive at bat, Braun hit another deep ball; a solo home run to left field. Braun would triple in his final at bat, scoring two more and giving him 6 RBI's and 15 total bases on the night. The bullpen picked up struggling starter Randy Wolf, and the Brewers won 8-3.
      In a year where the offense has struggled to score, it's refreshing to see eight runs on the board for the Crew. However, Braun's magical night did shed light on some of the Brewers offensive issues. Two of Braun's three home runs were solo shots, and Nyjer Morgan struck out in front of Braun before each homer. The top of the order has struggled to produce early in the year. Among everyday starters, hitters 1-4 are a combined 73 of 299 (.244), while hitters 5-8 are 70 of 268 (.261). Infact, the bottom half of the order has more RBI's, fewer strike outs, and the same amount of home runs.
      Thankfully, as of late Ramirez has gotten his average up over .200 and Braun looks to be back on track. Hopefully, Weeks will join the rest of the starting lineup in the .200's (wouldn't mind if Morgan joined him, as well). If the top of the order can begin to hit and produce, it will only make the second half of the order even better.
      The Brewers go again tonight at 9:05, where Marcum will face Edison Volquez. Watch for some production from the top of the order!

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Packer's 2012 Draft Analysis

      A different Ted Thompson showed up to the 2012 NFL Draft; an evil twin, perhaps. Thompson used the Packers 12 draft picks to trade up not once, not twice, but three times. Before this draft, Thompson had only made three total trades to move up in the draft. On the uncharacteristic moves, Thompson joked, “I'm not my father's son anymore. It's pathetic.”
      With the moves, the packers began the draft selecting six consecutive defenders. It wasn't until their final two picks, late in the seventh round, that the Pack snagged some offense. Thompson and his coaches alike reiterated that they weren't trying to fix a poor defense, but were drafting the best available.
      Well, this is supposed to be a draft analysis, not a draft recap, so let's get to it. For what “grades” are really worth, I've added mine. Don't read so much into the grades, I suppose...
      The Packers watched from pick 28 as USC defensive end Nick Perry fell into their hands. Perry is described as “very athletic” by most scouting reports on the web. 6'2”, 271 lbs., Perry will play OLB for the Packers, opposite fellow Trojan Clay Matthews. Perry is criticized for inconsistent play and skeptics point out that he has never played to potential. I'm concerned that he is more of a 4-3 guy than a 3-4. The Packers passed on 3-4 LB prospect Courtney Upshaw when they chose Perry.
A lot of talent – no doubt – but a lot of question marks as well. If we're giving out letter grades here, the Packers get a B.

      Thompson made two of his three trades in the second round. First, he moved up to 19th to select Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy. Worthy was predicted by most mock drafts to be a first round talent. He's a big guy (6'2”, 308 lbs) that the Packers can rely on to anchor the run. Worthy can also help generate a greater pass rush, the Packers primary need coming into the draft. Coach Trgovac mentioned that Worthy had a little bit of “wiggle.”
First round talent, great value. Worthy will help the Pack in a variety of areas. A+.

      Another second round trade found Vandy CB Casey Hayward a home in Green Bay. Hayward can make an immediate impact on the Packers defense. Whether that is as a nickel corner or a starter that moved Woodson to safety is dependent on his camp. Packers cornerback coach Joe Witt, Jr. described Hayward as a smart player with the necessary intangibles to play at a high level.
Another top-of-the-draft talent added to the defense. The secondary needs addressing, and the Packers think Hayward may solve issues at two positions. A.

      The Packers waited until the end of the fourth round to select back-to-back picks. At 132nd overall, the d-line added another run stopper: Iowa DT Mike Daniels. Daniels is a bit smaller than Worthy (6'0”, 291 lbs.), and relies on his hustle to make up for it. Daniels will probably be a situational guy for the Pack, at least for this year.
Another pick that helps address a need. Can fill a role immediately. B+.

      With the very next pick, 133rd overall, the Packers kept with the defensive theme, selecting Maine S Jerron McMillian. McMillian dominated at the combine, posting the best 40 time and verticle (Packer Report). He's an aggressive tackler that will help a secondary that struggled in that area last year. He's also versatile, able to play both free and strong safety. The Packers need to find some safeties after letting go of Nick Collins last week. Peprah and Burnett are the only two currently on the roster. Skeptics worry about his size. At only 5'11”, McMillian is undersized for an NFL safety.
Undersized, but may be athletic enough to compensate. Interested in seeing how he competes against top competition. B+.

      Thompson's final trade came in the fifth round. The Packers moved up to select South Carolina OLB Terrell Manning. Manning was a top ranked LB, but fell in the draft because of surgery on both knees. Manning, a big Linebacker at 6'2', 237 lbs, will play ILB for the Packers. Manning was a second or third round talent, a steal for the Packers in round five. Thompson wants manning to arrive in Green Bay with a “starting mentality.”
Terrell Manning is an absolute steal in the fifth round if he stays healthy. A+.

      Offensive needs were finally addressed in the seventh round with the selection of FSU OT Andrew Datko. Datko played only four games in 2011 because of a shoulder injury, one of many injuries that has plagued his career. However, with a dwindled depth chart at tackle, he has a chance to make the team. Recent draft picks Bryan Bulaga, Marshall Newhouse (2010), and Derrick Sherrod (2011) are among competitors for the position.
Datko is injury prone, but the Packers don't need him to be a major contributor this year. With a chance to make the team, he's a solid seventh round pick. B.

      B.J. Coleman was the Pack's final pick. Like Datko, Coleman is a recovering, offensive player. Coleman missed five games in 2011 due to a shoulder injury. McCarthy and the Packers seem to be confident that Graham Harrell can successfully fill the backup role – left vacant by Matt Flynn – so Coleman will presumably fight for the third string spot. At 6'4”, he is a tall QB with adequate strength to play at the next level. However, scouts have point out his poor footwork and fundamentals. If developed, Coleman has a chance to be a solid backup guy, and the Packers have done a pretty good job with the last few guys that have worked with them.
Coleman is raw, but has the natural talent to play in the NFL. He has a long way to go, but a lot of time to do it as a third string QB. B+.

My overall grade: A
The Packers addressed their needs for a pass rush, run stopper, and depth at QB and O-line. They elected not to pick a RB, which gives Ryan Grant an opportunity to prove his stuff in the next year. Many of these guys can make an impact on the team immediately and for the foreseeable future. Thompson's uncharacteristic trade-up's seem to have paid off, but we won't really know until we start seeing these guys in action. From the looks of it now, I'd say it was a successful draft.
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The following is a list taken from Tom Silverstein via
Here are some of the undrafted free agents that have apparently signed with the Packers.
Many of these names are from players or agents of players who have Tweeted about signing with the Packers. Some have been confirmed by agents and others are from news reports. Nothing is official until their name is signed on the bottom line, so some of these names could disappear.
Also, some may wind up being tryouts and not actual signings.
  • Jaymes Brooks, OT, Virginia Tech
  • Dale Moss, WR, South Dakota St.
  • Don Barclay, OT, West Virginia
  • Sean Richardson, S, Vanderbilt
  • Nic Cooper, RB, Winston-Salem St.
  • Dezman Moses, DE, Tulane.
  • Dion Turner, CB, Southern Utah
  • Mark Tyler, RB, USC
  • Drew Vanderlin, DE, Michigan Tech
  • Eric Lair, TE, Minnesota
  • Tommie Draheim, OL, San Diego State
  • Duane Bennett, RB, Minnesota
  • Cameron Ford, TE, Wake Forest
  • Marcus Rivers, WR, Buffalo
Here are a couple of guys who have been invited for tryouts:
  • LB, ElToro Freeman, Auburn
  • LB Luke Lambert, Missouri
  • DL Grant Cook, Arkansas
  • OT Tyler Butzler, Wisconsin-Stout
  • K Dave Nadeau, Minnesota-Duluth
  • LS Casey Casper, Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • OT Andrew Lambert, Indiana
  • Jaymar Latchison, DE, New Mexico”

Stats from and
Player list from


       Any Milwaukee sports fan grows up hearing the words “small market” over and over. Milwaukee is too small of a market to generate profit like the Chicago's, L.A.'s, and New York's of the sports world, and players don't want to come and play here. So the only way for the Bucks and the Brewers to be competitive is to draft well.
      The Brewers have been successful in the draft, as of late. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Yovani Gallardo, Corey Hart, and Rickie Weeks were All-Stars that were drafted and developed in the Brewers system. Great drafting and developed prospects also allowed the Brewers to move many of their successful young players for big name players now. This has allowed them to be competitive for the past three seasons and with hope for the near future. The Brewers set a club record for single season wins with 96 last season.
      The Bucks, however, have not had similar success in the draft. Dismal selections have left the Bucks to rely on trades to keep the team afloat. But as previously stated, many of these players don't want to play for the small market Milwaukee Bucks. Most recently, rumors that recently acquired Monta Ellis has expressed feelings to move on from the Bucks as soon as his contract expires in 2013.

      Let's take a look at the Bucks first round draft history since 2000.
2000 – Pick 15: Jason Collier (5.6 ppg) traded for Joel Pryzbilla (4.0 ppg), 4 years with Bucks
2001 – No RD 1 pick.
2002 – Pick 13: Marcus Haislip (3.5 ppg), 2 years with Bucks
2003 – Pick 8: T.J. Ford (11.2), 2 years with Bucks
2004 – No draft picks
2005 – Pick 1: Andrew Bogut (12.7 ppg), 7 seasons with Bucks
2006 – No RD 1 pick
2007 – Pick 6: Yi Jianlian (7.9 ppg), 1 season with Bucks
2008 – Pick 8: Joe Alexander (4.2 ppg), 1 season with Bucks
2009 – Pick 10: Brandon Jennings (16.7 ppg), still with team
2010 – Pick 15: Larry Sanders (3.9 ppg), still with team
2011 – Pick 19: Tobias Harris (4.4 ppg), still with team
*Career ppg, stats from

I would consider Bogut and Jennings to be good picks, aside from that the rest are junk. The majority of these players spent two or fewer years with the team. Sad. The only way the Bucks will ever be competitive in the NBA is if they start drafting better. In the last 10 years they've had five top 10 picks, and none of them have been an All-Star. Albeit, Brandon Jennings has the opportunity to get there in the near future. But even the young, drafted stars on the current roster don't want to stay. Both Illyasova and Jennings have expressed a willingness to leave Milwaukee for better money.
      Where do the Bucks go from here? I don't want to suggest “blowing-up” this team, because they're only one legitimate big man away from making the playoffs in a top heavy Eastern Conference. However, they do need to make some big changes. Skiles has taken the team about as far as he can. Their new, fast paced style isn't his forte, plus I can't understand how he gives minutes. D'Antoni coached this style successfully with the Suns for years, and is available. Sanders shouldn't play, other than for a defensive substitution at the end of quarters. Gooden is expendable. If they can find one big man that can keep up with a running team and plays good defense (a Tyson Chandler type), they're a top five team in the East. The answer may be in the forward/center filled draft, as long as they don't end up with Zeller, another soft, white dude. If you could bulk up Perry Jones or John Henson, they'd be a perfect fit. Around the league, there aren't too many options here that the Bucks can snag. Al Jefferson is another good fit, but he's a year away from entering free agency. Unless you can make a trade for Jefferson without destroying the young core, the answer lies in the draft.
      The Bucks will have an interesting off season deciding whether or not to trade Ellis, and how to approach the draft. Hopefully, it'll be fun to follow. Something in me knows we're still drafting Zeller...

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Defense, Draft, and D-backs

      In the 2011 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers defense ranked last in total defense and pass defense, and 14th against the run. With the NFL draft just around the corner and free agency looming thereafter, the obvious areas of need are on defense. What were the major holes in the defense that led to such poor statistics? The secondary got shredded. This may, however, have more to do with the other defensive problem, the lack of a pass rush. The Packers fell in the bottom five teams, recording only 29.0 sacks over the year. The loss of Cullen Jenkins and absence of LB Frank Zombo and a handful of other defense players made an obvious impact on their pass rush. The previous year, the Pack ranked second in the league with 47.0 sacks.
      The draft is the first chance the Packers have to address the defensive flaws. Mock drafts project the Packers drafting DE Shea McClellin (Boise St.), DE Whitney Mercilus (Illinois), and a slew of other OLB's and DE's. I don't claim to be a draft expert in any way, so I won't make any predictions or suggestions here other than to say that an OLB or DE is essential to fixing the defensive problems.
      Another interesting and debated option comes in the realm of the “draft day trade.” The Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly willing to trade CB Asante Samuel for a 5th or 6th round draft pick. Samuel is one of the best zone corners in the NFL and has recorded the second most interceptions over the last five years, behind Green Bay's own Charles Woodson. I have heard that Samuel's $10 million contract would allow for renegotiation, but that has been the deal breaker for teams like the Denver Broncos. The problem with Samuel is his poor tackling, which would only multiply the current tackling issues in our secondary, and is not very good in man coverage, which the Packers play predominately. However, for a cheap price Samuel would be a great replacement as a nickel corner if CB Sam Shields continues to regress from his stellar 2010 rookie campaign. Other options include starting CB Tramon Williams and Samuel at corner and moving the aging Woodson to the safety spot.
      These are some different suggestions to ponder. I'd like to see the Packers draft a DE, OLB, and DB early in the draft and add a veteran defensive back like Samuel. There are available players in this draft who can make an immediate impact on this Packers team and help the defense return to it's Super Bowl form of 2010.
      Don't get too worried about the defense, though. Aaron Rodgers and the offense can always just drop 40 or 50 points to get the win.


All stats come from or