Sunday, July 29, 2007

Translating Ted-speak

I was all set to write my first article in over a week.

My company's annual meeting had wrapped up, the 7th Harry Potter book had been read, and I was ready to rant about yesterday's Brewer disaster in St. Louis. I was ready to show how the blown 6-0 lead was the exact polar opposite of Hall's HR against the Tigers the day after the no-no. I was ready to discuss how my year's of joking about just wanting the Brewers to get me to Packers training camp may have come back to haunt me, as the Brewers had their worst loss of the season on the exact day that training camp opened and then managed to make a pitcher with a 0-10 record look a little something like Bob Gibson. I even intended to apologize to my unborn daughter, who had to have heard my uncensored tirade following Cordero's 5th blown save of the season. That's not how daddy normally communicates, honey. It was just a tough loss.

That's right. I was actually prepared to be negative about the Brewers.

But then I went on to JSonline and read Bob McGinn's candid interview with Ted Thompson. Suddenly, the outlook of the Crew didn't seem nearly as bleak. 'Cause after all, we have Doug in Milwaukee. And no matter what happens the rest of the season (which I am by no means giving up on, nor will I be content to say, "well, at least we had a winning season" when it concludes), the Brewers' young talent has given us enough promise to know that the days of "just get me to training camp" should be far behind us.

And then there's Ted.

I have to give McGinn credit. His interview with Teddy certainly included the type of questions that a GM with Ted's putrid record should be asked. And it's the kind of interview that my co-worker Aaron (who works in media relations, mind you) feels the Journal never has the balls to put in print (my words, his would certainly be more eloquent). For those of you who might have missed it, the entire interview is here:

I need to, however, take a look at a few of my favorite Teddy-speak responses...

Q.Brett Favre will be 38 in October and is nearing the end of his legendary career. Yet, your major addition on offense was a second-round pick at running back. Why didn't you do more to provide some firepower for Favre in what might be his final season?
A. I think we try to do the best we can for the team. If our team gets better then that's better for Brett. We're trying to do the best we can. In the draft, the board works a certain way and that's the way we pick guys.

TRANSLATION: "I added a guy through the draft to help Brett. You're almost making it sound like the NFL has added free agency as an option for GMs to improve their roster. This isn't baseball."

Q.Favre has never come across as a shrewd judge of personnel, but in his mind he saw Moss doing damage in Green Bay with Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. He wanted Moss and said Moss would have done the same reduced deal that he took in New England. Given the circumstances, why didn't you obtain Moss?
A. Randy Moss is a member of the New England Patriots now. That's the way it is. It's inappropriate for me to be discussing a player that's on another team.

TRANSLATION: "Randy Moss is a wide receiver, right? Please don't compare me to the front office of the New England Patriots. That's just not fair."

Q.Ron Wolf and Bob Harlan almost always explained themselves to fans when given the opportunity in similar forums. Don't fans in this state deserve an explanation from the general manager three months after the fact?
A. Right. I still think it's inappropriate to talk about a player that's on another team.

TRANSLATION: "Have I done anything to make you think I should be compared to Wolf? Geesh. First the Patriots now Ron Wolf. Just what are you expecting from me?"

Q.You're well into the third year of a five-year contract. No matter what you inherited, the team is 12-20 during your watch. Do you worry that your tenure might be short-lived if the team doesn't start winning this season?
A. Well, we would like to win this season. I've said that publicly and privately, saying we expect to win. I don't worry about things like, "Am I going to be here after this year?" That never enters my mind.

TRANSLATION: "I told you already that I expect to win. I even told my wife I expect to win. I told the guy at the auto shop, my banker, even my dentist. It's just that we're not very good. But I do expect to win. As far as my job security... Well, I don't think about this as a job so much..."

(It never enters your mind? Ted, Ted, Ted. Perhaps it should...)

Q.On the day after Green signed with Houston for $5.7 million per year and $8 million guaranteed, running back Travis Henry went to Denver for an average of $4.5 million, with $12 million guaranteed. You're sitting here now with about $15 million in cap space. Why didn't you go get Henry?
A. That's another example of someone that's on another team and I'm not really going to get into that.

TRANSLATION: Travis Henry would have all made an immediate impact on this team. And that would have cut into my being able to dazzle you with my draft in a couple years."

Q. Joseph Addai, the 30th pick last year, helped lead the Colts to the Super Bowl. Little Maurice Drew, the 60th pick in '06, had a great first year in Jacksonville. Do you like Brandon Jackson as much as them? What do you expect from him and Vernand Morency?
A. I don't know how to compare them. They're different running backs. I think Brandon Jackson is a good player. Vernand Morency came in and played a role last year and did a nice job. All the guys in the backfield can catch the ball. They have different running styles. We think it's going to be a good group. It may wind up running back by committee, or someone might establish himself.

TRANSLATION: "I don't know how to compare them."

Q.Do you expect another major addition at running back before Sept. 9?
A. I don't know that you can predict anything like that. Depends on if some other team is looking to do something.

TRANSLATION: "We're going to wait and see who's available after the final cuts in August."

Q.Given that you didn't add much beyond the draft, you must be comfortable with your roster. Is this team pretty much where you hoped it would be?
A. Yeah. There's still a lot of unknowns. I believe in my heart the competition we have at every position will make our team better.

TRANSLATION: "We have average players at several key position, including RB and TE. I believe competition is going to raise the level of some of these average players so that they are slightly above average when training camp breaks."

Q.Sometimes the mark of a strong, confident leader is being able to admit mistakes. You know better than anyone when you've erred. What were some of your major miscalculations?
A. I don't do too much looking backwards. Probably the one that sticks in my mind is we weren't able to shore together the offensive line in 2005. We didn't do a very good job of that.

TRANSLATION: "Well, if I started looking back on all of my mistakes, we'd be here all day. But that Mike Wahle guy was pretty good. Who knew?"

Q. Would you fault yourself for not thinking bigger? Being too caught up in the minutiae of your job?
A. No. It's difficult to give a self-evaluation on something like that. I don't consider that a problem, but now that you mention it I'll look into it. We have some grandiose ideas at times. A lot of people say we're not very flashy. There are a lot of things that we discuss that don't come to fruition. I have a lot of different personalities working with us. It's their job to bring ideas and thoughts and what-if this and what-if that.

TRANSLATION: "The minutiae of my job? What does that even mean? No, don't tell me--I'll look into it. I bet someone in the office knows what that means. Perhaps Andrew Brandt. He's sharp. And very helpful. Yeah, he'll know what it means for sure."

Yep, suddenly things with the Brewers don't seem quite so bad...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Get 'Er...Dunn?

All right, I know I've already written my "can't wait for the trade deadline" article. And I know Ichiro is now officially off the market. BUT...we're two weeks away from the trade deadline and the rumors are starting to fly around faster than an opposing point guard blows by Sam Cassell (in case you've forgotten--that's really, really fast...).
It was about 11:30 this morning when I got a call from a co-worker who was in Chicago at the time (Craig is definitely in the 99 percentile of true blue Brewers fans), asking me how I'd feel about the Brewers acquiring Adam Dunn. According to reports that he had been reading online (which were apparently also reported on WSSP and a Cincy radio station), the Brewers had already made a move to bring Dunn into our already jam-packed outfield. And a funny thing happened when I thought this rumor was true...I actually started to like it.
I mean, it makes absolutely no sense for the Brewers to bring in another incredibly strike-out prone, power-hitter, who may also be the worst defensive outfielder since Matt Mieske proved that charging in on balls is highly over-rated. And there's no way the Brewers can afford to take-on Dunn's $13 million next year, which he's guaranteed in the event that he is traded.
But yet...if you have a chance to add a power hitter to protect Braun, Prince, and maybe even Billy, you at least think about it, right? Especially if the cost is only Matt Wise and a couple of prospects, as the rumors were claiming. You would have to assume that Mench would be on his way out of town and that either Gwynn or Gross would be included in the trade for Dunn. So, would you do it?
No. I still wouldn't either. But I can't say enough how excited I am that the Brewers have a chance to be buyers and NOT SELLERS at this year's deadline. And I'm going to make two important statements that are going to seem contradictory, but yet are 100% valid.
1.) The Brewers should not make a move just for the sake of making a move.
2.) The Brewers should make a move to let the fan base and the rest of the league know that they are IN IT, TO WIN IT.
Like I said, I know those sentences seem contradictory, but they're really part of the same theory. I do think the Brewers need to send a message by making a move...but at the same time, it has to be the RIGHT move. Fortunately, there is no GM in the history of Wisconsin sports that I have more faith in than Doug.
BUT--that's doesn't mean I don't have a shopping list of my own, ranked from top to bottom:
--Chad Cordero (because you can never have enough arms in the pen)
--Mark Loretta (the Yankees want a utility player, Graffanino is as hot as he's ever going to be. Flip Graffy for a bullpen arm and then flip a prospect for Loretta, who hits for a higher average and plays more positions than Graffy)
--Octavio Dotel (because you can never have enough arms in the bullpen)
--Eric Gagne (because you can never have enough arms in the bullpen)
--Ryan Klesko or Eric Hinske (we're not in very good shape in the event Prince goes down for a couple of weeks)
--Akinori Otsuka (because you can never have enough arms in the bullpen)
--Brian Fuentes (you get the drift...)

And if the Brewers for some odd reason do decide to add Adam Dunn, perhaps he can at least help erase my memory of Todd Dunn...ah well, the days of "can't miss prospects," who in fact always missed, seems like such a long time ago now...That's why in Doug we trust...

--When I popped into Gord Ash's suite during the peanut run last night (Gord's always polite and either says "no, we still got plenty" or "yeah, I guess you better bring those in") I actually caught myself daydreaming about how cool it would be if he said, "before you go, Thomas, what do you think about this move..." But then I snap out of it and remember that I'm holding a bag of peanuts. And that he doesn't know my name. Actually, as I think about it, I hope I wasn't standing there an abnormal amount of time, holding my nuts. But, hey, I love my job.

--I made a realization the other night about J.J. Hardy, and I was a little disappointed. I've always been a fan of star shortstops. From Yount to Ozzie to Trammell to Reyes, there's nothing sweeter, in my opinion, than a slick-fielding shortstop. But I now realize that because thousands of teenage girls are wearing a Hardy jersey at each game, I'll never be able to buy one, no matter how good his career ends up being. There would just be something weird about wearing the same jersey that the pack of Lindsey Lohan wannabes that I had just passed in the concourse are wearing. Can't do it. Just like Scott Podsednik, a J.J. Hardy Jersey has become women's apparel...

--Thank God the Bucks got Jake Vohskul in the fold. I really don't have a problem with Garnett's $23 million per year or Redds max contract, but there's something wrong with a league where Jake Vohskul makes $3 million a year. That being said, I'm thrilled with the rumors (which are certainly based on more truth than the Dunn reports) that has Desmond re-signing with the Bucks. I look forward to seeing him take Bobby Simmon's starting spot by December.

And, wow, thank God this Yi Jianlian situation is cleared up. Silly me, I actually thought this situation might get messy...

And I guess I need to say that...

Darren was right. (God that's painful) Rickie needed to sit, but if he's not going to play, I'm all for him getting regular at bats in the minors once Billy comes off the DL...

We will need Rickie to contribute before it's all said and done. And he will. Trust me. Just like I trust get 'er done...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rambling Rose, Part 3

The Brewers lead in the division has shrunk to 3 and a half games, but at least we've finally won a series. So many different thoughts running through my mind that I'm left with no other options but to ramble...

--I really love the opportunities that the Brewers are providing for kids who come to Miller Park. From the kid who yells "play ball" at the top of the game to the hordes of children partaking in the base run after a Sunday game, you see example after example of the Brewers' front office making every effort to create major league memories for their future fans. For example, I can't even begin to tell you how excited I would have been to announce the first three hitters of an inning, as one lucky kid gets to do every game in the bottom of the third.
But there have been a few kids that I have felt sorry for too.
That's because of another promotion that they run on Sundays, which is sponsored by Culvers and lets kids run out to one of the nine positions, greeting the players during the introductions and standing with them during the national anthem. I can't even begin to imagine how excited I would have been to stand next to Robin Yount when I was nine years old. You wanna talk about "pee your pants for the Brewers"? Yep. That would have done it.
But I do kind of feel bad for the kids who get chosen to stand next to the utility players when they get a start. For instance, on Bill Hall bobblehead day Fielder didn't start. So the kid who went out to first base stood next to Tony Graffanino instead. And today Counsell played for Hardy. I'm sure it's still a thrill for the kids to be next to a big leaguer, but if the kid's any kind of a Brewers fan--you gotta believe that when he first heard that he was going to go out to 1st base, he was thinking, "Awesome! Prince Fielder!"--and instead he gets to run out and meet Tony Graffanino. I'm sorry, and I really don't mean any offense to Tony, but there's got to be some measure of a letdown in that.
If it's 1983 and they tell me, "Tommy you're going to run out to shortstop," and I run out and meet Ed Romero--well, it's safe to say I'm sobbing in front of all of County Stadium. At the top of my lungs. I'm already picturing my mother scolding me and hollering "Tommy, you tell Mr. Romero 'thank you' right now, and take that baseball, dammit" as I fight through that post cry breath-intake thing that kids do (and can't ever seem to stop once they've started). As I think about it, perhaps it's best they started this promotion after I've become (somewhat of) an adult.

--Really glad the Bucks have Mo back in the fold, but I'm a little nervous about locking anyone up for 6 years. I like Mo's game, and I think he's only going to get better...but Bobby Simmons' contract has scarred me for a good three years (and I, admittedly liked the signing at the time). I do think Mo will play in an all-star game within the next two to three years, however, and will regularly pray that someone can teach him a little more defense.

--Meanwhile, Yi has had a conversation with Harris and Coach K, 68% of China wants him to play for the Bucks, and it's pretty well agreed that there's no way he would be able to sit next year (in order to re-enter the draft) with the Olympics on the immediate horizon. Nonetheless, I'm not going to admit I was wrong about the draft pick until Yi is practicing at the BC in a Bucks jersey. Until then, I still say the Buck should have sold while the selling was good. (Eric's comment three posts ago that I was "ripping on Yi," however is just not true. I've already said that I have no idea how good this kid is going to be. I haven't, after all, ever seen him play. But there's no way the Bucks can afford to "give him 2/3 years," because we all know that once he's completed his rookie contract, his days as a Buck are over...)

--Meanwhile, my other long-time friend, Darren, had to be ecstatic when Ned decided to pinch hit Tony G for Weeks on Saturday night. I have no problem with that decision, but I'm sticking with my prediction that Rickie breaks out of his funk during this homestand...

--One other observation I'd like to make from today's Brewers game, if I may--
Any of you that have ever sat behind home plate have probably watched kids run to the front row whenever a ball is fouled back to the screen and then beg the bat boy for the ball. (If you've ever thrown a piece of bread into a fish pond, it's pretty much looks like the same kind of thing.) And I have no problem with that. IF you're actually a kid. Today there were several adults begging for a ball as well. What's worse, there were at least two occasions in which the bat boy was throwing a kid a ball and an adult leaped up and stole it in front of them.
Can we just establish some kind of man law that it is NOT any kind of an accomplishment,whatsoever, to catch a ball from a bat boy? Please. I mean, maybe if Prince tosses one into the stands or Jenkins in left, then maybe that's a cool souvenir. But otherwise, unless you are catching the ball directly from the crack of the bat--you need to find the closest kid--immediately. And if you're stealing a bat boy ball from a kid, you should have one heaved at your head.

--Finally, I have a confession to make to my fellow Brewers fans. And an apology. On the night of the no-hitter, my cat Albus broke my Chris Capuano mini-bobblehead. I don't think he did it on purpose, but Albus does get jealous when I ignore him during the game. Anyhow, I think it's safe to say that Cappy hasn't been the same since. As a matter of fact, it was the next night that Villanueva had to make the spot start for him. My wife has obtained some super glue, however, and we hope to have him back to normal by his next outing. After all, with the Cubs playing like the '84 Tigers, we desperately need to put Cappy back together again...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Everything's Different Now...

All right. Be honest now.

If I would have told you in early January that the Milwaukee Brewers would be ten games above .500 at the all star break, what would you have said? Honestly.

And if I had told you that they would be four and half games up on the division, what would you have said to that? Come on; be honest.

Those of you that know me well enough would have probably said that it was just Tom being overly optimistic again. You might have called me delusional or you might have made some joke wondering how a guy who drinks as little as I do can always talk like such a crazy flippin' drunk. You might have even asked me if I had talked to Scotty F lately.

(Since 4 of my 9 readers don't know who Scotty is, let me explain. In my life, I've had the privilege of meeting several hard core Brewers fans. It's very seldom, however, that I meet someone who is as blindly optimistic about their chances every year as Scotty. I think I can safely say that you will also never meet a nicer guy--which only adds to the lore of Scotty's pure devotion for the Crew. Now, Scotty wasn't necessarily what you'd call "cool" by high school standards, but I guarantee you that if anyone was messing with him, you'd have about 120 guys (and about 400 girls) ready to throw down. He was just that nice. And the simplest story I can use to illustrate his sometimes misguided loyalty to the Crew happened when he went with a group of us to a game in 1992. It was the Brewers against the Blue Jays, and it was still a couple months before Scrap Iron's boys really got hot that summer and started making their push. Left-hander Bruce Ruffin was on the mound, and the first 7 Jays to bat laced balls all over County Stadium so hard that you wondered if you were actually watching an extended batting practice. Before an out could be recorded, there were 5 runs in and 2 more guys on base. Garner came out to talk to Ruffin, and when he didn't give him the hook--the crowd exploded in ferocious boos. Just as the two-fisted slobbers around the park started to calm down, Scotty stood up and at the top of his voice yelled, "Come on, Bruce. Ruffin some feathers!"

Yeah. We didn't get it either. But that's what Scotty brought to the table. Every single Brewer game. And to this day, if the Brewers are getting roughed up, I still quietly whisper to myself, "Come on, Turnbow (or whoever). Ruffin some feathers.")

Anyhow, the point is that you would have been pleased as punch to know the Brewers would be in this position, had you known back in January. And you might have called it flat out "impossible" if I had told you that they'd be in first place despite Rickie Weeks batting .221; Hall having only 9 HRs and 38 RBI; and the new free agent Suppan having an ERA of 5.00.

And--if you think about it--if I had told you that the Brewers would finish 15 games above five hundred at the end of the year...but two games back of the Cubs, you would have been more excited than Richard Simmons at a Spice Girls concert. "Awesome," you would have yelled, "you mean the Brewers will still be in the hunt during Packers season? That would be so cool."

Ah. But how things have changed. I'm guessing, if you're anything like me, that wouldn't be quite so awesome anymore. Sure, we could try to spin it that a winning season would still be a step in the right direction, but the truth is--now that we've tasted first place for this long--there would be no satisfaction in second place. And that's why things are suddenly different for us Brewer fans. It's a whole new world. A world where, "just keep me interested until Packers training camp" doesn't cut it anymore.

Not after a 24-10 start. Not after all of the national attention. Not after having four legitimate all stars.

(And really as good as are four stars have been, let's not forget four other stars, who also made this remarkable first half possible:

1. Carlos Villanueva--Unbelievably solid in the pen. While I understand the desire to save pitches on Gallardo's arm, I still think Villanueva should end up in the starting rotation soon. He would be such a huge upgrade over Vargas, it's not even funny. I know people are going to throw the Brewers record in games that Vargas has started in my face as an argument for him. But let me just say this--giving Vargas too much credit for those wins is EXACTLY the same as the Bears giving Grossman credit for their winning record. Of late, the Brewers were winning Vargas' outings, despite his efforts. And as the pennant push continues, we're going to need someone who can actually pitch more than five and a third innings every time out. Moving Villanueva would leave a hole in the bullpen, however, so acquiring a Chad Cordero or Gagne might have to be the first move...

2. Corey Hart--Just when all of Greater Milwaukee was complaining about Tony Gwynn not playing enough, Corey Hart reminded everyone that he's a top prospect too...

3. Ryan Braun--Simply unbelievable. I'll be the first to admit that I questioned Yost putting him in the 3 hole and worried about putting undue pressure on the kid. I'm silly.

4. Jenkins/Mench--Both were disappointed about being in a platoon role when camp broke, but neither have let it affect their game. And their combined numbers--.271; 18 HRs, 61 RBIs, make for quite the left fielder.)

Players always say that it's far too early to scoreboard watch at this point in the season. But that's not true with us fans. Hell, I've been watching Cubs scores and Cardinals scores since early May.

So, finally--like Yankees fans, and Red Sox fans and Dodgers fans--we get to see what this pennant run stuff is all about. And prepare yourself; because I'm already getting a sense that it won't be all fun and games. There will be some tense moments. There will be some sleepless nights. There might even be some rashes and vomiting.

But I bet it's worth it.

And it's definitely better than Ruffin some feathers...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Dear Mr. Thompson (or may I call you Ted?):

First off, I want to apologize for the things I've called you in the past. When I used the word "moron" I meant to say that you are more on with your choices than you are off. And when I used the term "ass wipe," I simply was trying to point out that, like toilet paper, you are essential to the back end success of the Green Bay Packers. And, well, I simply have no excuse for calling you a douche bag. But I do apologize. And I hope you accept.

See the thing about your moves thus far, Ted (if I may call you Ted), is that when Ron Wolf left the organization he admitted that his biggest regret was not getting better weapons to help Brett Favre. And since he was a mentor of yours, I've just always assumed that you had learned from his mistakes. And it has pained me to no extent to learn that you obviously haven't.

I will say, however, that you are up against unfair standards at GM. You see, the guy making the moves for my beloved Brewers has now officially moved into genius status. Every move he makes has come out looking more golden than than the gold of the Packers helmets. (But that's a topic for another blog, I suppose.) And it's hard for me not to notice that during your press conferences you look more confused than Mike Tyson at a spelling bee (All right, I stole that line from a comedian I saw last night, but it's so much more appropriate to you that I couldn't resist.)

That being said, however, there have been some moves I have really enjoyed, Ted (if I may call you Ted). I think you've done a fantastic job overhauling our defense, and yes it's true that defense wins championships. But let's be honest, for every Charles Woodson, there's been two Marquand Manuels or Arturo Freemans. And to be truly, truly honest Ted, I'll forever hold a grudge against you for using a 1st round pick on selecting Favre's successor when all Favre really wanted was a little help and he would have gladly stuck around without all the hemming and hawing.

I've also enjoyed your ability to successfully, "cut the fat" from our roster. Daycare centers have smaller messes to clean up at the end of the day in comparison to the dump truck load of poo Sherman left behind for you to clean up. The fact that you are still $10 million under the cap this year and $20 million under the cap on next year's books (with only Corey Williams becoming a free agent) is truly, truly remarkable. But here's the thing, Ted (if I may call you Ted)--it doesn't pay to cut all of that fat, if you don't spend the money. So here's what I propose, and if you can make this happen, well, we'll let all other bygones be bygones.

I need you to trade for Larry Johnson.

There were rumors that you were putting out feelers back in April before the draft, and now it's time to make the move, Ted (I'm just going to call you Ted and hope that's ok). You see, one of the biggest fallacies I heard after the Moss debacle was that the Packers shouldn't have gone after Moss anyhow because they are still far more than one player away from winning anything next year. Hogwash. That might be true in baseball or in the NBA, but anyone who's watched football the last 5 years knows it doesn't take much to go from worst to first these days. Not in the NFL, where parity reigns supreme.

The entire staff whole-heartily admits that Favre has his best year's when the Packers successfully run the football. Larry Johnson successfully runs the football.

Last year, the Packers were pathetic when they got into the red zone, lacking someone with a nose to the goal line. Larry Johnson has a nose for the goal line.

And when Favre does leave, it would be helpful to have a running back who can carry the load to take the pressure off the poor QB who'll have the unenviable position of being Favre's successor. Larry Johnson can carry that load.

So it's a no brainer really, Ted. You've done such a nice job of front-loading the salaries of Woodson and Kampman and now you can do the same when you negotiate LJ's contract.

And to make the deal sweet for the Chiefs, here's what I want you to offer them.

First Kansas City is always in need of help on their defense line, so I want you to offer them KGB. He's been exposed as purely a pass-rushing specialist, but Kansas City needs someone to rush on the weak side and KGB has proven he can put up double digit sacks. That opens the door for Montgomery and Hunter to step into the 3rd down pass rushing specialist and cuts $5 million off the cap that you can apply to front loading LJ's new deal.

Next, I want you to offer them one of your rookie WRs. You have two of them, Ted in Jones and Clowney, and I like what Ruvell Martin and Carlyle Holiday have to offer behind Jennings and Driver. So you really only have room for one of them--especially if Koren is able to contribute in October. The good news is that the Chiefs haven't been able to identify a good young WR in nearly two decades, so it's almost a lock that they'll choose the wrong one.

And finally, Ted, you need to offer them your next two first round draft choices. I know this is going to be really tough on you. You love your draft choices, I get that. And you have an uncanny knack at turning one pick into three lower picks, thus multiplying the number of average players on our roster. But LJ is a superstar, Ted. And sometimes you need to go and grab those kinds of players too.

And you can make the picks conditional. Here's what I propose.

If LJ rushes for 1,500 yards and/or 15 TDs in 2007, the Chiefs get our #1.

If LJ rushes for 1,200 yards and/or 12 TDS in 2007, the Chiefs get out #2.

If LJ rushes for 1,000 yards and/0r 10 TDS in 2007, the Chiefs get our #3.

Anything under those benchmarks, the Chiefs get our #4.

Follow the exact same formula for the 2008 season to tell you what the Chiefs get from us in the 2009 draft.

I think the Chiefs will be interested. After all, this deal is much sweeter than the 3rd round pick the Colts got from the Rams for Marshall Faulk. And if LJ rushes for 1500 yards the next two years and you lose a couple 1st rounders, so be it. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that with Favre and a 1500 yard rusher, it won't be a top ten pick. And you'll have Morency to become the great change of pace back that he is, thereby saving some of the hits that LJ will have to take over the next 4 years in a Packers uniform. That's the perfect formula for winning.

And after all, Ted, that's really how your job should be defined.

Sincerely yours,


OTHER notes...

I was sorry to see the agony (comments section of my last blog post) that Darren went through last night watching Weeks hit in crucial situations. I do hope he used some mouth wash before going to bed as that vomit taste can be awfully nasty. Here's what Ned Yost said about Weeks in today's Journal, but the comments are following Friday night's game:

"I thought Rickie swung the bat well last night," Yost said. "He's just got zero luck right now. He can not find a hole.
"I thought Rickie had some good at-bats last night, but he just had nothing to show for it. Every once in a while you just need one to fall in. It doesn't matter how it is, you just need one to fall in and then they come in bunches after that."

I would expect Rickie to get today off and be ready to go after the all-star break...

Finally, it's early to be thinking about Marquette basketball, but here's a nice article on Jerel McNeal, who I think will start a solid NBA career in two years as a defensive specialist (think Eric Snow with a better shot and better ability to take it to the rim).

(As I'm typing this article, I can't get anything to pop into the "Title" box. Not sure what's going on, but just know I would have called this post "My Letter to Ted.")

Wednesday, July 4, 2007



There was a long message on my voice mail when I finished blogging Sunday night. To summarize, my friend Darren spent three and half minutes telling me that he was pretty much sick and tired of watching Rick Weeks (And yes, he does make a point to refer to him as "Rick" and not "Rickie." But this comes from the same guy who once looked at me during home room and said, "Rose? We're not calling you 'Rose' anymore. From now on, you're Ironhead." And for the duration of the spring baseball season, I was indeed called Ironhead.) pathetically flail away at pitches. During his rant, he questioned whether or not a full time benching was in order for Mr. Weeks.
I will be the first to admit that watching Rickie at the plate has been rather painful this year. And if I was an opposing pitcher, there's no way I'd throw him anything over the plate once he had two strikes in the count. I also have no idea how much of this has to do with the wrist injury, so I'm not going to throw that out as an excuse.
But I will say this...
By the time his career has ended, Rickie Weeks will be one of the greatest offensive players to have ever donned a Brewers uniform.
Think Rickey Henderson. Or if you prefer modern day comparisons, think Soriano. Think Alex Rios. And now, don't laugh, but...think Barry Bonds. (I'm speaking, of course, of a young, skinny faster Barry Bonds, before massive head growth and back when he wore a Pirates uniform.) Yeah, Rickie has the potential to be that good.
I'm also a big believer that hitters don't work their way out of a slump by sitting on a bench. They need to see pitches; and in Rickie's case, he needs to start seeing strikes. In the same way Billy Hall broke out of his slump by taking some walks, Rickie needs to do the same. He also might need to take a couple called third strikes--as painful as that can be to watch--just to start really seeing the strike zone again. But, of course, he needs to be up at the plate for that to happen. Not on the bench.
Now you're not going to get me to say anything negative about Graffanino or Counsell because I think those two veterans will continue to prove vital for the Brewers success this season. And Ned should continue to find both guys at bats so they can stay fresh. But neither Counsel or Graffanino have the potential to carry a team like Rickie can. Neither have that same combination of bat speed, on base speed and raw power (a true Triple Threat, if you will) that can cause an opponent fits. And although the wrist itself may not be to blame for his most recent struggles, the fact that he missed the second half of last season might explain some of his problems. But like J.J. a couple of years ago, I fully expect Rickie to emerge in the second half of the season. And I think the Brewers will absolutely need a contributing Rickie Weeks (as well as Bill Hall) to fend off the charging Cubbies after the break.
Finally, as bad as Rickie has looked at times--and it has been bad, as evidenced by his .234 average--when we were at the game for our Bill Hall bobblehead, they flashed a stat that Rickie had reached base safely in 46 of his first 50 games. I was obviously surprised by that, almost as much as I was surprised to learn that Rickie is second on the team in walks, despite his time on the DL.
Believe me it's only a matter of time for Rickie to get hot. Look for it on the first homestand after the all-star break. Just don't give up on the kid yet. 'Cause as Ned will tell you--like Prince, J.J., Gallardo and Braun--he's a stud.

I was so disappointed in the Yi pick that I forgot to mention how thrilled I was for Alondo Tucker. The kid couldn't have possibly landed in a better situation. Mark it down, two years from now, you're going to be lying on your couch watching Sportscenter when a story airs focusing on how in the world so many teams passed on Alondo during the '07 draft. For anyone who has questioned Tuck's athleticism, now you'll see. The fact that he was drafted by the brain trust of the Suns organization is all the proof I need...

In case you missed it, my friend Brent sent me the Andrew Bogut quotes, sure to inspire some discussion in NBA locker rooms this fall...

The Sydney Morning Herald's David Sygall quotes the former top overall pick on life in the NBA. It's not pretty. One of the more memorable passages:
"The public's got it right, a lot of NBA stars are arrogant and like to spend lots of money and have lots of girlfriends and all that."
"The smarter guys don't do that. They like to live a regular life and want to retire and be set up. About 80 per cent of them go broke by the time they retire or come close to it."
"If you want to keep living that lifestyle when you're 40, but the millions have stopped coming in, you suddenly find your friends are gone and you've got nothing. It's a tough situation for some of those guys, especially the ones who come from the ghettos or tough upbringings."
"The funny thing is that we have compulsory tutoring each week where they teach you to manage your money and they tell you about all the things that can happen to you, people trying to take advantage of you, but it's amazing how many of the guys totally ignore it."
"I guess if you're a normal person and all of a sudden you're getting $10 million a year, it can go to your head. But I really think it's just the culture over there. I would never want my child to be brought up in an environment like that, where if you have money, you're supposed to flaunt it and make everyone jealous. The American attitude is 'We're the best'. That's why the NBA guys who come from other countries, the Europeans, all sort of stick together away from the game."

Look for the posters featuring "American" players performing serious facials on Bogut wherever NBA merchandise is sold...

Finally, a co-worker of mine who is much more upset about the Yi drafting (I'd call myself "disgruntled" over the move, Aaron is flat out pissed), sent me the following three team trade scenario in which the following players were obtained:
Bucks: Elton Brand, Raja Bell, Clippers 1st pick in '08
Clippers: Marion, Yi, Kurt Thomas (purely to balance the trade financially)
Suns: M. Redd, C. Maggette, B. Skinner (see above)

Although I love the idea of it, I don't think it would ever fly because Kohl wouldn't give up Redd with the chance of only getting one year of Elton Brand, who has a player option in '08. The trade also doesn't help the Suns get out of cap hell, but it's damn fun to pretend, isn't it? And you have to admit, it would be pretty exciting to see a line-up with Williams, R. Bell, Villanueva, Brand and Bogut with Simmons and C. Bell coming off the bench.

But best of all--it moves Yi out the door. So I challenge some of you to come up with trade scenarios to move Yi and post them as comments. If you're in the camp of keeping Yi, let me know that too.

Nothing better than pretending you're a GM...

Have a great Fourth.

God Bless America.

(And God Bless the Brewers.)