Tiger Gone Wild

Since the middle of last week rumors have swirled about the personal life of one Eldrick "Tiger" Woods. First, National Enquirer reports that Tiger is having an affair with a restaurant hostess from New York. It's the Enquirer so take that however you want. The big question for Tiger in the affair sense, is who is hotter? The hostess to your right, or his wife, down and to the left?

Still, I'm not here to judge Tiger on what may be a phantom affair (at least not today). That story in the Enquirer was followed by a 2:30 AM car accident in which Woods was leaving his house and struck a fire hydrant and a tree. Also, the back windows of Tiger's Escalade were smashed out by Woods' wife Elin so she could pull him out of the car (even though he was in the driver's seat).

Follow that up with Woods' refusal to talk to police about the accident and his less than informative statement on his website and you have a lot of questions that we'll probably never get an answer to.

So, I'm here to speculate. Now, I don't know what happened in that gated community and realistically we'll never find out. That said, to alleviate the rush of conspiracies, I'll give you an expansive list of my theories as to what happened to Tiger on that fateful November night.

Theory #1: A little bland, but somewhat believable. Tiger was on his way to the local 24-hour Wal-Mart to pick up diapers when a bunny dashed in front of his SUV and he swerved to avoid the defenseless creature, only to pinball off a fire hydrant and into a tree.

Hearing the commotion from inside the Woods mansion, wife Elin woods (who always listens by the window with a perked ear whenever Tiger leaves the house) grabs a golf club and smashes both rear windows of her husbands car and pulls him out of the drivers seat. Paramedics come, calamity ensues.

Theory #2: After being confronted with his alleged affair, Tiger is beaten-up by his supermodel wife. After fleeing into the garage, he fumbles with his keys while starting his Escalade giving his wife time to catch up with him. She grabs his Nike Dymo Prototype driver (10.5 degrees) and smashes window one, Tiger struggles to switch the car out of park and window two is smashed.

Tiger finally gets away as Elin shouts swedish curse words at him. He pinballs from hydrant to tree, 911 is called, calamity ensues.

Theory #3: There was a bee in the car.

Theory #4: While pulling out of his driveway, Tiger sees a message on his dashboard. He looks closely and sees the letters Y and E. Confused he nears the road as a former Korean body builder turned major champion leaps up in the backseat and shouts "YANG." A startled Woods wrenches the wheel to the right and strikes a fire hydrant and tree. Y.E. Yang kicks out the back windows and flees the scene before paramedics arrive.

Theory #5: Tiger has an intimate night with who he thinks is his wife Elin, during copulation the real Elin enters the room and Tiger realizes he has been tricked into sleeping with her twin sister Josefin in a sitcom-ish attempt to break up their marriage because she has been in love with him all along.

An enraged Elin chases Tiger out of the house with a golf club, smashes both windows, Tiger drives away recklessly, bounces off hydrant and into tree, paramedics arrive, calamity ensues.

Theory #6: Someone took a picture while he was driving. Distracted by the camera click, Tiger cusses, says "Not while I'm driving" and crashes. What, you thought it was his fault?

Theory #7: A distraught Tiger Woods finds out that he is neither African-American, Asian or Caucasian, but in-fact Fijan, when Vijay Singh sing calls and tells him "Tiger, I am your father. Look in your heart, you know it to be true."

Unwilling to accept this, Woods flees his mansion, swedish-supermodel wife, children, and near-billion dollar empire only to be sucked back in when his car bounces from hydrant to tree. Barely concious, he is saved by the power of the force when his long lost sister hears his cries and comes to save him with Lando.

Theory #8: Phil Mickelson got into a car accident with only some light bruises, so Tiger had to one-up him.

Theory #9: While pulling out of his driveway, Tiger has a flashback to hole ten at Turnberry. All he sees is a vivid replay of his drive sailing into the tall grasses of the Ailsa course in Scotland, voices mock his missed cut and he fails to regain reality before his car hops a curb, bounces off of a fire hydrant and into a tree.

Theory #10: He was sexting while driving. Never a good idea.

You know what the beauty of all this is? Tiger will never tell us what really happened, so we can go ahead and choose to believe whatever crazy theory about TigerGate that we want.

Guide to Win Over Milwaukee Fans

The baseball offseason is now underway, and our boy Dougie has already been hard at work. Between trades and free agent signing it is inevitable that there will be new faces in the 25-Man roster. Call me biased (I am), but Brewer fans are the coolest fans in baseball. Everyone get a fair shake to start with, and it tends to be up to the player on how they are viewed by the fans. Many Brewer players have been revered, many have been scorned...so this is a guide for the newbies on how to win the hearts of Milwaukeeans and the rest of Wisconsin.

Do: Act like you want to be here
Listen, we all know Milwaukee likely isn't the destination that you've been wanting to go to since you were a little kid, but try to humor us. We're used to the stereotypes on the city and the state, and often laugh along at all the punchlines that Hollywood likes to provide on us. So when someone actually says something nice, we take notice and tend to insta-like that person. Hell, the only reason I personally wouldn't care too much if Kendall came back (for a cheaper price of course) is because he seems to legitimately like being in Milwaukee. Ryan Braun is very much a guy I don't think many Milwaukee fans would like if he was on another team, but him signing a long term deal to stay in Milwaukee shows that he must like it here and thus, he gets top treatment (helps he is amazing at baseballing). So, at your press conference, when the media lobs you a softball of a question like "how do you feel about playing for Milwaukee", for god sakes crank that out of the park, you are a baseball player after all.

Don't: Accept a huge contract and suck major ____
I think this goes with along with any ball club, and in reality, Milwaukee fans might be more lenient than most, even though a bloated contract can severely weigh down the club's possibility of success. Jeff Suppan is the prime example, he sucks and we can't wait for him to be gone.....but we still give him a cheer when he trots out there, and cheer in shock/sarcasm when he actually pitches well. Through all this ramble, just remember the main point, don't suck!

Do: Give it your all
I'm not going to say give it 110%, but just because I despise that phrase. Milwaukee is a blue collar town, and we like blue collar work ethic. You might not be the best at what you do, but as long as you are trying hard we'll cut you a break for the most part. This goes especially true if you didn't listen to the above tip and suck. Suppan still tries, so, you can't argue with that too much. However, If you want to get Johnny Estrada'd out of town, just dog it to first base every time.

Don't: Whine
Bill Hall found this one out. In 2008 he was struggling, and found himself a place on the bench. He then made the comment that maybe he should be traded. Well, I was at the next game he played at Miller Park...it wasn't pretty. The player who many times was a hero, was getting booed and heckled relentlessly. Bill, you were sucking, you got benched, what the hell are you complaining about? There is another famous Brewer who once whined...but I'm giving him his own "don't".

Do: Give back to the community
This tip is especially helpful when you aren't living up to expectations as a player (ex. Soup's Troops, Rickie's Rookies). Eric Gagne got paid a lot to close games, but he sucked, so he bought 10,000 tickets for fans for a game. That I think changed people's view on him, and I think most were pulling for him in the 2009 training camp (got hurt and was released). I think MLB makes players donate time, but going above and beyond rarely goes unnoticed.

Don't: Care about yourself more than the team
Some people might prefer a player that just pads his stats (fantasy owners), but if you are going to be a Brewer, you might have to sacrifice personal stats sometimes to win us fans over, drop that bunt to move someone over. Sure, Ryan Braun is a show-boat, but then he talks about how the team can get better, sometimes to the dismay of Doug Melvin even. I think a good example is Corey Hart actually. We know what happened, the opposing pitcher is struggling, bases are loaded, a walk scores a player.....then Corey steps up to the plate and swings at three wild pitches. What the hell Corey! It was his post game comments, something to the effect of, I'm not going to just stand there and take balls. Ummmm, yes, yes you should Corey. And let us not forget Chuckie Carr's "That ain't Chuckies Game, Chuckie hacks on 2-0".... at least that was humorous though, and had a, now defunct, blog inspired about it.

Do: Be a giant red head
Seth McClung and Todd Coffey are case in point. Ok, so maybe it is their intensity level that endears fans, but being a giant redhead probably helps their cause. For Coffey, having moobs might also help him out.

Don't: Become a Chicago Cub (Unless your name is Glendon Rusch)
This is just my advice to Mike Cameron right now.

Do: Be fat and good
I mentioned that Wisconsin has many stereotypes. Of course, like many stereotypes, there is a general truth behind them. We like our beer, cheese, and sausage here, and thus many of us Sconnies take on a...portly shape. So, when we see player built like one of us, it gives us hope that we can be the all-star at the drunken softball league. Great examples are Prince Fielder, CC Sabathia, and Todd Coffey. Need further proof? In what other city would Joey Meyer be a name anyone would remember? Even when you're not good, you can still get blogs named after you, even if one involves you being at a buffet.

Don't: Be a Dick
Sign some autographs, go out in the community and say hi. Don't shut yourself out from the fans. The only acceptable time to be a dick to a fan, is if 'The Happy Youngster' ends up with a baseball that is of importance to you.

Do: Lead the Brewers to the Playoffs
Ok, so CC Sabathia spent half a season with the Crew, but I think we'll always think of him as a Brewer, because he helped lead the Brewers to the post season for the first time in 26 years. Even as an evil Yankee, most Brewer fans were pulling for him to succeed personally. So, if you want to be loved, just help take the team to the playoffs....that's easy enough right?

And, the final Don't is a biggie. There is one player that makes all of Brewer Nation react in an extreme rage, you don't want to be anything like this:

Don't: Whine about switching positions, purposely throw a ball in the stands, call Milwaukee fans racists, etc...
Yes, if you are coming to Milwaukee, you don't want to be Gary Sheffield. I'm not sure there is another player, who is scorned and booed so much for something that happened 18 or 19 years ago. Sheffield hasn't been a Brewer since 1991, but wow do the fans still have an extreme dislike for him, and for good reason. What is funny about it all, is many of these fans that are now booing and heckling him, were still in diapers when the 'breakup' happened. Hey, he did get himself a Brewers blog named after him though.


Turkey Day on Tap

Happy Thanksgiving, twelve readers that will spend some of their Holiday with us on the Wisconsin Sports Tap. This is a holiday about looking at your life and recognizing what you have that makes it better. Whether it's your wife, your family, your kids, your job, your car or your beer, we all have things to be thankful for in 2009.

The sports world is no different and here are a few things that Wisconsin sports fans should be thankful for on this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

I am thankful for Trevon Hughes. Basketball season is upon us, at least near enough to pay attention. The Badgers point guard is an exceptional talent and it's been fun watching him from year to year.

I am thankful that Aaron Rodgers isn't broken. The Packers O-line has been horrendous throughout 2009, and Rodgers has taken more than his share of hits. Whether he's holding the ball too long or not, let's just be happy he's still in one piece.

I am thankful for Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Let's be realistic, as long as these two players form the heart of the lineup Milwaukee will matter. It's been exciting to watch Braun and Fielder play for these past three seasons and we're only guaranteed two more years of it, so let's enjoy it while it lasts.

I am thankful for John Clay. That fumble against Northwestern not withstanding, John Clay reminded us what Wisconsin football should be. A power running game that dominates in the second half. Clay is eligible for the draft, but most will agree he could use another year if seasoning, let's just hope he thinks that as well.

I am thankful for Miller Park. This is one you could say every year and should say every year. Miller Park is an experience, it's one of the best experiences in Major League Baseball and Brew Crew fans deserve it.

I am thankful for Brandon Jennings. Yes, the Milwaukee Bucks have crept onto this list. Jennings has brought the team an element they haven't had since Ray Allen was traded. There is a buzz in the air at the Bradley Center these days, and it's all because of him.

I am thankful for Scott Tolzien. Let's not clamor for Curt Phillips just yet. The Badgers had one of their most successful seasons passing the ball in recent memory, so why rush the inaccurate passer when Tolzien has another year of eligibility?

I am thankful for Doug Melvin. Oh I went there. But why, you ask, would I be thankful for a General Manager that many would like to fire? Simple, do you remember the Brewers in the 1990's? Well I don't. Melvin has raised the team to a level that we can complain when we miss the playoffs or have a losing season. Let's not lose sight of that.

I am thankful for Bo Ryan. Be honest, Bo knows basketball. In his tenure Wisconsin has never missed the NCAA tournament and the Badgers have never finished lower than fourth in the Big Ten. Yet somehow NCAA prognosticators have picked the Badgers to finish eighth (eighth!) and miss the Big Ten tournament. That won't happen.


A little crow, a big win and a bigger loss

I'm a big man. I can admit when I'm wrong.

Perhaps I was a bit hasty after the Bucs game. Mike McCarthy seems to have injected a sense of urgency into the Packers since my last post. Rodgers and the line has decided that they're done taking sacks and are willing to take intentional grounding or holding penalties over one if at all possible. The short passes are back, and the defense has recaptured their preseason form. So he's pretty much answered my every beef. In fact, without that loss to put their backs to the wall, I'd wager the Packers don't beat the Cowboys last week. Not only did that loss not spell the end for the Mike McCarthy era, it may have jump started it. So Mike, you're pretty much off the hook for now, and I'll clean my plate.

But just as things start looking up, Dom Capers suddenly finds himself under the microscope, and it's not because of anything he did.

Turns out Al Harris and Aaron Kampman have probably played their last snaps of the season,and perhaps as Packers, courtesy of a couple blown out knees. And while you can make the argument that the Packers wouldn't miss much without Kampman in the lineup, the loss of Harris is enormous. It showed immediately. Alex Smith picked on Tramon Williams repeatedly, and we were reminded that, unfortunately, Jarrett Bush is indeed still on the team. Because of these shortcomings, Woodson is handcuffed in coverage. And this is a problem.

If Charles Woodson isn't free to roam the defensive backfield, Dom Capers' defense suffers a huge blow. Capers has been playing out of the nickel quite a bit recently to allow Woodson to blitz at will, and that unpredictability has been a huge reason for the Packers recent defensive dominance. Without that and combined with the downgrade in coverage, things could get ugly.

Thankfully for him, its likely that the Packers can get by with their current personnel this Thursday. Yes the Lions put up a lot of points on the Browns, but A) its the Browns, and B) if Brady Quinn and the Browns can put up 37 points on the Lions, the Packers should be able to double that. So he has a couple weeks to come up with a new plan of attack.

But I had a thought: why should he have to? Isn't that what free agency is for? Ted, do your poor DC a favor and find another corner to fill Harris's spot. And because Ahman Green and Mark Tauscher told me all about your theme this season, I'll get you started:

Ahmad Carroll (right): Recently released by the Jets. Hmm, special teamer who looks lost in pass coverage and commits stupid penalties? We already have one, thanks though.

Joey Thomas: ...let's hope it doesn't come to this. And don't worry if you don't remember him. There's a reason.

Jamar Fletcher: Intriguing because of his state ties, but there are two problems: he's a bit undersized and he never was a Packer so he doesn't really fit the bill.

Mike McKenzie (left): Here we go. Yes, he had his issues in Green Bay in the past, but that was with Mike "The Pear" Sherman, and I think disdain for Sherm is something he'll share with today's Packer fans. He's physical, experienced, and has the dreads necessary to fill Al's position. The only problem I can think of is I seem to remember him being dumb as a box of rocks in interviews, but when you consider the alternatives, I'll take it.

So you heard it here first: Mike McKenzie, you're the next contestant on Ted Thompson's "Green Bay, This Is Your Life."

PS - I do realize I missed one. Let's just say if Terrell Buckley signs this week, I've got a grocery bag with eye holes cut out of it waiting in the closet. It'll be hard to eat Thanksgiving dinner wearing it, but I think it'll be worth the effort.


The Catcher of the Future, Today!

Sorry George Kottaras, I'm not talking about you. The Hot Topic in the early part of the Brewers offseason is the question of who starts at catcher in 2010. Do you attempt to bring back Jason Kendall at a discounted rate? Do you sign another veteran stopgap to fill the hole until 2011 when top prospect Jonathan Lucroy has played a year in Triple A? Do you call up Angel Salome and throw him to the wolves? Or do you bring up Lucroy now and let him run with it?

It's simple, you bring up Lucroy now. The crop of free agent catching this off season is paltry, names like Rod Barajas and Miguel Olivo don't instill excitement in the fan base. Take Olivo for instance, a player who walked 19 times in 112 games doesn't seem to fit what Milwaukee is trying to accomplish offensively.

So let's say the team does re-sign Kendall. He needs to play less, and will he be willing to do that? Not likely. A reasonable stat-line for Kendall next year would be 125 games, a .236/.325 average/OBP, two home runs and 35-40 driven in. What is that really worth to you? Anything more than $2 million a year is too much to pay for what he could bring to the table.

What about the idea that Kendall could move to a backup role for a rookie like Salome or Lucroy? That won't work, it's doubtful that Kendall would be willing to sign with a team as anything other than a starter. That said, he'll be 36 before the end of next season and it's not likely that many teams will be interested in a 36 year old catcher who wants to play 140 games and will only hit .240.

What about Angel Salome? Why isn't he being considered for a jump from Nashville? After all he did hit .286 with 44 RBI's for the club's Triple A affiliate last year. So why not?

Well, defense, for one. Lucroy had seven errors in 125 games last season and as a college draftee he's considerably more polished behind the dish. In fact those seven errors were the most he's had in a professional season.

Salome, on the other hand, is very much a work in progress defensively. Last season he committed 10 errors in just 82 games. Add in previous seasons where he's had 15 errors and 13 errors (in 66 games) and red flags are raised with his glove work.

Angel Salome has also struggled with injuries and suspension in the minors. His 2009, 2007 and 2005 season were all disrupted with injuries and a steroid suspension. There are just so many question marks involved with Salome that his future as a big leaguer is an uphill battle.

Comparatively, Salome is also a free swinger. He struck out 55 times while walking 22 last year. Conversely, Lucroy walked 78 times against 66 strikeouts. In a lineup that will feature the strike zones of Alcides Escobar and Carlos Gomez, having a young player that will work the count would be a good move.

Lucroy has a good approach to the plate, he's flashed decent power in the minors and hit for pretty good average at every level he's played. The organization is very high on him and with good reason.

Finally, let's face facts. No matter what moves the team makes in this off season they will be better in 2011 than in 2010. Escobar will have played out a full season, Yovanni Gallardo, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun will each be a season better. Ideally Manny Parra and Carlos Gomez will each be improved. So why not bring Lucroy up next year and let him take his lumps in 2010?

Rookies will be up and down, it's the way of sports. So if Lucroy can get any "rookie mistakes" out of the way next season, let him do it. Then he will be a year better in 2011 when the team looks to be better anyways.

This isn't an unprecedented move, a catcher jumping from Double A to the majors. Brewers GM Doug Melvin pointed out that Russel Martin, Kurt Suzuki, Pudge Rodriguez and Jason Kendall are all players who made that leap and succeeded in the big show. It's a move that makes sense from a lot of different view points, and one that the Crew should make in the coming weeks.


Farm Report: Outfielders

Alright, this is going to be a bit more expansive report then usual. I've decided to go with my initial plan for this after much debate. One plan I gained via twitter was to split it up Corner Outfielders and Center fielders, but on my top fifteen outfielder list there are only three center fielders listed. The rest of the list has five players I've listed as Corner Outfielders and seven that haven't yet defined their positions as professionals.

So, long story short, I'll give you a list of the top fifteen outfielders in the system and highlight the best prospects in the group. Here goes nothing...


1. Caleb Gindl RF (High A)
2. Logan Schafer CF (High A)
3. Lorenzo Cain CF (AA)
4. Kentrail Davis OF (Rookie)
5. Lee Haydel LF (High A)
6. Brendan Katin RF (AAA)
7. Chris Ellington LF (Short Season)
8. D'Vontrey Richardson OF (Rookie)
9. Erik Komatsu OF (Low A)
10. Chris Dennis OF (Low A)
11. Maxwell Walla RF (Rookie)
12. Scott Krieger RF (Short Season)
13. Peter Fatse OF (Low A)
14. Kristopher Davis OF (Rookie)
15. Chadwin Stang OF (Rookie)

The first prospect we'll highlight in this bunch is Scott Krieger, the Right Fielder drafted in the 19th round this year. Krieger is an advanced hitter and he flashed good power with short-season Helena. He hit 13 home runs and drove in 53 in 68 games. The bad? He also struck out 103 times.

Next up will be Maxwell Walla. Walla is a high school player and very raw at that, still he has shown enough to be considered a high ceiling hitter. Don't expect him to rocket through the minor leagues, but hope for steady improvement from year to year. He was a second round pick this year and hit just .201 for the Arizona Brewers.

Moving on we have D'Vontrey Richardson. A fifth round pick this year, Richardson was a two-sport athlete at Florida State, the second being football. He didn't play in the Minors this year but with the Seminoles this past season he hit .304. He's very athletic and projects as a corner outfielder.

Chris Ellington is the next outfielder on the list. Ellington is another college hitter who had a nice year at Helena. He hit .285 with 29 extra-base hits and a .320 OBP, but more importantly he struck out only 58 times in 70 games.

Brendan Katin is a name that we heard a bit during this past season. He has what some folks would call "Country Power." In 127 games this past year he had 63 extra-base hits, he also has a big arm defensively. The massive hole in his game would be his strike zone, he whiffed 164 times last season and walked only 35 times. On a side note, in the Venezuelan winter league Katin has walked 10 times in 22 games to sport a .373 OBP.

Keeping the roll going we have Lee Haydel, a speedster who played for the Brevard County Manatees in 2009. He hit .275 this year but had on OBP of just .302, he'll need to improve his plate presence as he continues up the ladder. If he doesn't improve in that facet or start hitting more extra-base hits his best fit may be as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

And at number four we have Kentrail Davis who makes it this high purely on potential and his college production. In two years with Tennessee he batted .319, hit 22 homers and drove in 74. He played center in college but many scouting reports project him as a corner outfielder who will develop more power.

Lorenzo Cain had a 2009 to forget, after a severe knee injury in the spring he never really found his stride. For the year he hit .218 with 15 extra-base hits and a .295 OBP. Nothing to write home about, but he will probably be assigned to Triple-A Nashville for 2010. Combine his bad year with the big year our next prospect had and Cain is no longer the top Center Fielder prospect in the Farm System.

That next prospect would be Logan Schafer, the teams minor league hitter of the year. Schafer hit lead off for the Manatees and batted .308 with 31 doubles and 76 runs scored. He also had a .370 OBP, just an all-around solid year in 2009.

The top prospect is the third member of Brevard County's outfield, Caleb Gindl. Gindl is a Rightfielder and the heir apparent to Corey Hart in a couple of seasons. At 5'9" he has very good pop (17 home runs in 2009), a good eye at the plate (.363 OBP) and has been a solid run producer (71 RBI's). Not bad for the diminutive outfielder.

Overall the depth at the Outfield spots has improved greatly over the past couple of drafts. There are some very exciting players coming up in the form of Gindl, Schafer and Cain. If Davis and Richardson turn out to be the players the Crew thinks they can be, then the future looks even brighter between the foul poles.


Your Attention Please

It turns out the Milwaukee Bucks are alive and well. Not only that, but rookie Point Guard Brandon Jennings appears to be the star the team has been waiting for a very long time. In case you missed it last night, the rookie scored a nearly unbelievable 55 points in last nights come from behind win over the Golden State Warriors.

Some facts about the game via the Journal-Sentinel:
  • Jennings 55 points match the most Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever scored in a game for the Bucks
  • The seven games it took him to score 55 is the quickest in NBA history, it took Wilt Chamberlain eight games.
  • He had 29 points in the third quarter, and 10 in the final 2:15 to seal the win.
  • Jennings set the Bucks rookie record for points in a game, the previous mark was 51 set by Lew Alcindor
  • With the big game, he joins Lebron James as the only players to score 50 points in a game under the age of 21.
To see a rookie have this sort of an impact on a game is more than impressive, it's astounding. The Bucks are 5-2 and off to one of their best starts in years and that's in large part due to the commitment to defense and the emergence of Jennings.

I stand corrected, because I thought Jennings would be a bust. I thought this would be a boring team to watch. Now, the season is only seven games old and Jennings will struggle at times but he is the real deal. He is giving the fans something to cheer for, a reason to go watch games and that's whats most important.

With Michael Redd returning from injury this week and Andrew Bogut finally emerging as a post threat this team will be turning some heads. Add in the massive improvement that Ersan Ilyasova has shown and the team is finding enough scoring to win games. Depth will still be a concern, but the Bucks show promise for a change. This looks like a team that will be good again, sooner than later.

Excitement in Milwaukee? And baseball season is over? Believe it.


Farm Report: Shortstops

This time I was momentarily interrupted by my appearance on Tuesday's Frosty Mug for Brew Crew Ball. Why didn't I write my shortstop review on Wednesday then you ask? That's a good question...

Moving on, we tackle one of the thinnest prospect groups that the Brewers have, Shortstop. Maybe two worthwhile prospects in this group, so you'd better hope that Alcides works out because the Crew doesn't have much else happening at the Shortstop spot.


1. Alcides Escobar (MLB)
2. Joshua Prince (Low A)
3. Ryan "Scooter" Gennett (Rookie)
4. Brent Brewer (High A)
5. Michael Marseco (Short Season)

As per the usual, we'll start at the bottom and work our way up. Marseco was an 11th round pick a year ago, and his first season with Helena went well, hitting .340. Year two was a different story, he struggled to a .189 average for Wisconsin before being demoted back to Helena. He finished the year at .204. He's a singles hitter who plays above-average defense.

Brewer may not be on this list at the start of 2010. Considered the best athlete in the Crew's farm system, Brewer was a two sport athlete coming out of High School (Football and Baseball). So far in his Minor League career he has yet to make any strides. This year was awful on all accounts, he hit just .222 while striking out 109 times in 105 games. He also committed 35 errors.

Now, I say his time as a Brewer may be coming to an end not because the team will move on, but because according to scout.com he is scheduled to make an official recruiting visit to Oklahoma State this weekend. You hate to see big time potential like his leave the system, but judging by his first few seasons in the minors it might be the best move for him to make.

Scooter Gennett was a 14th round draft pick this year, he signed at the deadline and so didn't play in the system this season. Still, all accounts indicate he could be a very good player so I'm rating him on what's been said and not on numbers (which I hate doing).

Our No. 2 shortstop is an interesting prospect. Drafted in the third round this year, Joshua Prince made a huge splash in his first stop in the Brewers system. With Helena, he batted .298 with a .426 OBP before being promoted to Wisconsin. He describes himself as a lead-off hitter, and his numbers befit that. He'll need some seasoning, he hit just .221 after his promotion, but Prince might be one to watch.

Finally, we have the defensive whiz kid Alcides Escobar. I won't say too much about Escobar since we've likely heard it all by now. In Triple-A last year he batted .298 with 34 extra-base hits and 42 stolen bases. He followed that up by batting .304 in 38 big league games. It'll be fun to watch him play next year.

Overall the Brewers Farm System is thin at the shortstop spot, but that's generally the case when a top propsect is at our near the Major Leagues. If Escobar can hold down the Major League job for the next 4-5 seasons it will give the team plenty of time to replenish and restock their depth at shortstop.


Abandon Ship?

I’ve been a McCarthy supporter since day one. Literally. I remember when people were griping about bringing in the offensive coordinator from a San Francisco team who struggled mightily for one season, but his message of instilling a sense of history and building around what he termed “Packer people” was one that I appreciated and was excited for. And he didn’t let me down. After a rough first season, we were rewarded with an NFC Championship Game appearance, and let me tell you, I was feeling pretty good about being on the bandwagon at the very beginning.

Well, this week I’m finding myself sheepishly sneaking over to the back hatch.

The Tampa Bay game has a lot of people pointing fingers at a number of places, and some of it has been unfair. For a while I was thinking this team just isn't that good, maybe it was all Brett Favre making the team look better than it was. But if you dig a bit, you'll see that there is a lot of talent on this team. Need proof? Look at the stats. Rodgers is a top-5 QB in the league. Should he finish the season at the rate he's at, he'll have 32 TDs to 10 INTs and 4500 yards. The team's passing, rushing, and total offense all rank in the top-10. Team defense is in the top-5 in yards allowed. By all these measures, this is a very good team.

But the team penalties. The missed assignments, the confusion and broken plays. These things fall on the coach. The abandonment of the short passing game in key situations, an inability to rush the QB. These things fall on the coach. They’re schematic and disciplinary issues, and that’s Mike McCarthy’s department. He says week in and week out that they’re trying to address these issues in practice, but 8 weeks in it’s pretty obvious that he’s not getting through to these players.

So what now? Well, now you play out the season and hope for the best. Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe something will click after hitting the proverbial rock bottom last week, and the tackles will stop jumping before the snap, Rodgers will start getting the ball out quicker, and Romo will be picking Lambeau sod from his teeth on a regular basis next Sunday. The team bounces back, gets the wild card, and takes out the Vikings in their third shot at Favre. I’d love that.

More likely, however, is 7-9, no playoffs, and a new coach for 2010. Sorry Mike. I'm not completely off the wagon, but I'm really questioning the direction its in right now.


Brewers Rumor Mill - John Lackey Edition

It's no secret the Brewers are going to need to acquire pitching if they want to be successful in 2010, and unfortunately the list of potential candidates is slim. And since one of the Brewer's largest trading chips, JJ Hardy, was traded to the Twins for CF Carlos Gomez, it is clear Melvin is going to go after the free agent market. And the name on top of that list is John Lackey.

John Lackey in any other year would be the 2nd or 3rd best starter in the free agent pool, but by chance, he is easily the first name teams will be targeting. Being the most sought after free agent usually carries a hefty price tag, but with the state of the economy, many teams might be a little more cautious on a 31 year old pitcher who's ERA was a 3.83 in 2009. This coupled along with the clearing up of money from Mike Cameron's likely departure, could present a window of opportunity for the Brewers.

Lackey made $10 million last year, and look for him to command about $13-16 million/year, which if you consider in 2010 Jeff Suppan will be making over $12 million, that wouldn't be a terrible bargain for a pitcher who has had success over the course of his career, not just a few playoff games. At 31, Lackey will likely want a long term deal which would probably mean he's looking for 4+ years. Do I think Melvin would be willing to toss a $60-$70 million dollar offer on the table for four or five years, and do I think it would be a good idea? Yes, and yes.

A lot of money is coming off of the books with Cameron's departure and the young Gomez replacing him. After 2010 Doug Melvin's black eye (Jeff Suppan) of $12.5 million is freed up along with Bill Hall's contract. That only covers two years, but the Brewers core players are still young, and many are still under control or arbitration eligible for a few more years. The only major cash guzzler will be Prince Fielder, who let's face it, won't be a Brewer by 2012. Also, come 2011, you can expect Lucroy to be potentially starting at catcher, once again a young player under control for many years to come. What I'm saying is, paying Lackey a contract of that size, will not damage the Brewers long term plans, and not break Attanasio's bank.

The main question is, would Lackey accept a contract of 4 or 5 years for $60-$70 million? If the Yankees or Red Sox get in the mix, doubtful, the asking price would probably shoot up around $80 million which would be too rich for the Brewers to even think about considering for Lackey. The good news on that front is, both the Yankees and BoSox have young prospects that they have been holding on to, in Hughes and Bucholz respectively to fill in if needed.

Always a major question in free agency is, would Lackey even be interested in playing in Milwaukee? This is of course unknown, but when proven, stand-up, veterans like Trevor Hoffman, Mike Cameron, and even Jason Kendall all express their genuine fondness about the club and the city, it has to bode well.

While this is all speculation, and I've made these numbers up in thin air, I do think that Doug Melvin is going to make a serious push for Lackey. He's already mentioned him by name after the Hardy/Gomez fallout, something Melvin rarely does. Yes, there are still far too many factors to consider and plenty of time before most free agents will really start getting serious about signing, but this could be a real possibility. I know many of you would cringe at the idea of signing another pitcher to a deal like that after we've been burned with Suppan, but to win you need to take chances, and this isn't an unreasonable chance to take. Once again, Lackey has proven himself over the course of his career, and also AL pitchers generally thrive in the NL. After Lackey the next top talent not named Ben Sheets, is Joel Pineiro....I'd rather not see another Cardinal reject moving to Milwaukee after one above normal season.

Based on nothing.....I'll give this a 58.34% chance of happening. I would say 50%, but that's boring. Start working your negotiation skills Dougie.

Farm Report: Third Base

Our minor league Farm Reports were somewhat disrupted by the Brewers trade of J.J. Hardy for Carlos Gomez on Friday (check out my thoughts on that here). Today we continue our look at the Crew's depth with third base, a position of some contention from the big league on down.

This group features a lot of big time questions, and potential some very good major league players. And yes, we will still give Mat Gamel prospect status even though he is no longer a major league rookie.

Third Base

1. Mat Gamel (AAA)
2. Taylor Green (AA)
3. Adam Heether (AAA)
4. Zealous Wheeler (High A)
5. Kyle Dhanani (Low A)

Don't read too much into that number five player, the only real prospects of note are the top four in that group. And in that top four there will soon be a sizable logjam.

Wheeler had a nice year with Brevard County, batting .268 with 64 driven in, certainly a good enough year to warrant a move up to Double-A. He showed good plate presence, posting a .370 OBP and has put up back-to-back good years. In 2008 he drove in 87 while slugging 13 home runs.

Adam Heether (left) is an interesting player, comparable in a lot of ways to Casey McGehee. Heether will likely get a chance at making the big club as a utility player, he's seen time at second base, third base, shortstop and in the outfield. He had a big year in 2009, batting .296 with 18 home runs and a .396 OBP. All that could mean though, is he's good at taking advantage of minor league pitcher's mistakes, of which there are many.

Next is where the logjam demonstrates itself, Taylor Green was considered a very good third base prospect prior to 2009. Then he had wrist surgery before the season and struggled for the duration. With Huntsville he hit just .258 and hit only five home runs, certainly not worthy of a promotion on numbers alone.

Finally, there is Mat Gamel. Gamel didn't have a good year, but he had some very good moments. His development was clearly stunted by his time spent on the Milwaukee bench but you can still see the quality of player he might be. In triple-A he hit .278 with 11 homers and 48 driven in. The big concern, of course, is strikeouts and that's something he'll have to improve on in the majors.

Now for some hypotheticals, if Green and Wheeler (right) are both assigned to double-A then someone loses valuable playing and development time. If Green and Gamel are both assigned to triple-A, same problem. The DH opportunities are too few to consider that a viable option.

The long and short of it is, the Brewers need to trade someone. Whether it's Casey McGehee, Gamel, Green or Wheeler, there are only so many at-bats to go around. Depth is a beautiful thing isn't it?


The Week In Review

Four headlines worth noting from the four major Wisconsin mascots:

Packers - Spitz Out For Year: This was just announced, and it hurts more than it may seem. Jason Spitz could fill in in any of the middle three offensive line positions, and with him being out the entire line is downgraded. Wells is serviceable at center, but too small to make me feel comfortable against sizeable DTs, and if either Colledge or Sitton goes down, TJ Lang has to fill in. And that’s a problem for me, because Chad Clifton is as good as done as a Packer.

He commits too many penalties and is too injury prone to be worth the Packers time any longer. Lang may not be the future at left tackle, but he deserves playing time, and there’s nothing left to gain from playing Clifton. On the other side, Barbre has been pretty terrible, and we have yet to find out what we have in the returning Mark Tauscher, so that replacement is worth exploring. But Clifton, as far as I’m concerned, can go to the waiver wire. We'll miss you, Spitz.

Bucks - Milwaukee Hoops Worth Watching?: Its crazy early, and I’m not about to get carried away, but Brandon Jennings is a fantastic reason to watch Bucks basketball again. He’s a spark plug, and though he had an off game the other night against the T-Wolves, he seems to have helped rejuvenate a Bucks team that figured to be down and out minus Michael Redd. Meanwhile, Andrew Bogut, who many had written off as a bust, seems to have found a bit of a mean streak this week. He worked his way to the basket for several dunks against Minnesota and was integral in their win over the Knicks on Saturday. The Bucks will be lucky to make the playoffs, but this team is starting to feel a bit like the early Yost years of Brewers baseball. Hop on now before the bandwagon gets too crowded.

Brewers - Hardy Traded For Carlos Gomez: This was a great trade for all parties if you ask me. The crew can move forward with Alcides Escobar, Hardy can return to a daily starting role, and the Brewers free up several million dollars by replacing Mike Cameron with Gomez. The only question lies with where Cameron goes from here, but being a Wisconsin sports blog, that no longer concerns me, so happy trails Mike. Hopefully we can use the money we’re not paying you to get a #2 guy in the rotation. For some great insight, check resident Brewers guru Mark Lange's breakdown of the trade.

Badgers – Blocking Bemidji: When the Badgers play the Beavers of Bemidji State, its reasonable to assume it’s a hockey game. Not last week. In a Badger basketball exhibition game that generally wouldn’t be worthy of note, one stat line sticks out: 5 blocks in the whole game, all from one player. That player was 6’6” redshirt freshman G/F Ryan Evans, who at one point had 4 blocks in 4 minutes. He also ended up with 12 points as many minutes. After losing Diamond Taylor to a life of crime, it was nice to see one of the youngins make an impact.


Fair Market Value?

Shocking nobody, J.J. Hardy is no longer a Milwaukee Brewer. He has been traded to the Minnesota Twins for Center Fielder Carlos Gomez, a former top prospect in the New York Mets system.

The end result of this trade is two-fold. First, Alcides Escobar will be the starting shortstop in 2010. Second, this means the end of Mike Cameron's tenure patrolling Center Field at Miller Park.

One bad year?

The comparison between Hardy and Gomez is clear, not by player types but by similar situations. In 2008, Gomez and Hardy were nearly untouchable; their teams and fans loved them and they each had huge impacts on the field.

Then came 2009. Both Hardy and Gomez slumped impressively, ultimately losing starting jobs. Hardy was replaced by Escobar in August and Gomez was replaced Denard Span in May. Both players were once highly touted and had fallen off to a point that they really would not have seen much playing time in 2010 if they were not traded.

Carlos vs. Cam

As far as the type of players they are, you shouldn't compare Gomez to Hardy but rather compare Gomez to the man he'll be replacing in Center, Mike Cameron. So here's a breakdown of the two players, looking at Gomez in 2008 when he started the full year.
Remember when you look at this that Gomez struggled the following season, but as a young player some development is hoped for. Clearly the Brewers will be sacrificing a large amount of power and run production, but what they will be getting back is a lot of speed and potential.

Gomez was once considered a Five-Tool prospect, and he brings another blazing base-runner to combine with Alcides Escobar. This kind of speed is something that Milwaukee has not had in a very long time. The only real concern are the strikeouts, if you were irritated with Cameron's persistent strikeouts, don't expect that to change with Carlos.

Defensively the Brewers lose nothing and that may be what is most important if you watched Cameron play over the last two years. In 2008, when he played in 153 games for the Twins, Gomez was by many metrics the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball.

They've got Options

What if Gomez flares out and is nothing more than a fourth outfielder? A defensive replacement and pinch-hitter/pinch-runner? Don't worry, Gomez is under club control through the 2013 season, two more seasons than J.J. Hardy and if he doesn't pan out over the next couple of seasons there are guys developing in the Minors.

A year ago Lorenzo Cain was the name on everybody's lips. Well, he is still around. His development was slowed by a knee injury in April and he struggled afterwards. It's likely he'll be assigned to Triple-A Nashville next year and with a big 2010 he will be right back in the picture.

And if Cain doesn't make that jump, well there's this kid named Logan Schafer that plays Center Field who was just named the Crew's Minor League hitter of the year. Schafer will be in Double-A next season and if he performs well he could be knocking on the door in 2011 as well.

If Gomez lives up to his potential, he could be the Center Fielder of the future, he's only 24 after all. If he doesn't? Milwaukee has a pretty good farm system to draw on.

Where's the Pitching?

Ah the million dollar question. What Milwaukee did with this trade was free up a huge chunk of payroll. Had the team decided to bring back Mike Cameron they would have had to pay him a raise on his $10 million salary in 2009. Dealing Hardy sends his $4.65 million out of the teams payroll.

The replacements, Escobar and Gomez, combined to make about $1 million in 2010. Gomez is entering his first year of arbitration, which means he will receive a raise. We'll say he makes $1.5 million next year (completely arbitrary number based on nothing, so don't quote me there). That means the team will have around $13 million in payroll flexibility to spend on a free agent. Even more if the team elects to not bring back Jason Kendall at his current salary ($5 million in 2009).

What does all this mean? The Brewers can afford to spend relatively big money in pursuit of a pitcher like John Lackey. Any big contract this year wouldn't handcuff them too much in future dealings because of the added payroll flexibility gained NEXT year when $24.5 million comes off the books in the forms of Jeff Suppan, Bill Hall and David Riske.

The Brewers have some payroll to work with in this offseason, let's hope GM Doug Melvin uses it wisely.

The Brewers got fleeced

No, they didn't. Milwaukee had to trade J.J. Hardy, everyone in baseball knew it. Hardy was coming off his worst career year. All this means is that his value was low, even with the gained year of arbitration by his being sent to Nashville.

The Brewers gained a Major League player, and one with a load of potential. This is likely just the first of many moves in the 2009-10 Hot Stove League. Corey Hart, Mat Gamel and Angel Salome are all players that could end up moving before the start of next year.

J.J. Hardy had a tremendous five year career with Milwaukee, and he will be missed. But a full season of Alcides Escobar will make it very easy for Brewer Nation to move on.


Farm Report: Second Base

Let's keep the reports rolling, today we move on to the middle infield and Second Base. This is a good group, with very different types of players. No major surprises, but one major disappointment.

Who will be turning double plays for the Brewers may come into importance for the big club sooner than later, with Rickie Weeks STILL an unknown quantity (can he bounce back from another major wrist surgery?). Within the second baseman group we have lead off hitters, unknowns, and of course one slammin' Canuck.

Second Base

1. Brett Lawrie (Low A)
2. Eric Farris (High A)
3. Cutter Dykstra (Short Season)
4. Hernan Iribarren (AAA)
5. Mike Brownstein (Low A)

Starting at the bottom, Brownstein gets the nod at the fifth spot. This could easily be an interchangeable spot next year but in the meantime he makes the list. Picked in the 14th round, Brownstein saw time with four different levels of the Brewers system, including a five game stretch with Huntsville at the end of the year in which he hit .375, overall he hit .299 in 68 games. Still, 68 games is not a big enough sample size to get a great read on a player.

Iribarren lands fourth mostly on the argument of what you see is what you get. Yes, he has hit for average at nearly every level of the minors, but he also has never hit for power and isn't a run producer. He'll likely be a utility player in the majors at some point.

Previously I mentioned a disappointment and that would be Cutter Dykstra. His sophomore season was not good. After struggling in Center Field for Wisconsin he was moved to second base and sent down to short season Helena. For the year he hit just .234, but 2010 is another year, and the potential is there - it just needs to be realized.

Eric Farris might be one to watch, though he's been a very streaky hitter. He's an interesting prospect because his game is well-suited to that of a lead off hitter, this year he hit .298 with a .341 OBP and 70 stolen bases. I'm not saying he's the second baseman of the future, but if the team decides to trade Brett Lawrie, you could do worse than giving Farris a chance.

And then, of course, there is Brett Lawrie. Critics say he didn't have as good of a year as he should have but I disagree whole-heartedly. Remember, Lawrie didn't play a professional game last year. So he started his pro career at Low A and still hit .274. Add in the 36 extra base hits and 65 runs driven in and you've got a solid first season.

What's most encouraging about Lawrie is that he held his own in a 13 game stint with Huntsville at the end of the year, batting .269. He's considered an advanced hitter, and his defense will have to catch up. It would not be a shock to see him assigned to Huntsville to start 2010.

Aside from Lawrie, Dykstra would be the only prospect in the bunch that you could label a "high-ceiling" player, though he has yet to show much. Even so, Iribarren and Farris might turn out to be solid major league players if they get a shot. I'm not saying they're locks to be contributors, but definitely worth watching.


Farm Report: First Base

Yesterday we filled you in on the Crew's catching prospects and today we move on to the next position on the diamond, first base. With Prince Fielder's future beyond the next couple of seasons in question, first base prospects will soon be some of the foremost in the organization.

Lets get to it.

First Base

1. Joe Koshansky (AAA)
2. Steffan Wilson (High A)
3. Brock Kjeldgaard (Low A)
4. Sean Halton (Short Season)
5. Chris Errecart (High A)

Clearly this isn't a position of strength in the organization, although it's better this year than it was just a season ago. A year ago, Errecart might have been considered the top first baseman; but the switch-hitter has, thus far, been unable to make the transition from Class A to Double-A. Combine that with emergence of Halton and Kjeldgaard and he falls to fifth best.

Halton is one to watch, he'd be ranked higher except he's only played one season of pro ball. It was a good year though, in 69 games between rookie league and Helena he hit .345 with 45 RBI's. How he progresses over the next couple seasons will give a very good indication of how good he can be.

Next up is the former pitcher, Brock Kjeldgaard. He has big time power and extra base potential, the big lefty had 54 extra base hits in 2009. Along with that he struck out 172 times, but the transition to position player continues.

It was very close for No. 1 and No. 2 but in the end Koshansky gets the top spot. Still, Steffan Wilson had a solid year with Class A this season. Koshansky put up outstanding numbers when he was playing in the very hitter friendly park in Colorado Springs, but when he was claimed off waivers by the Crew, those numbers fell back down to earth (he hit just .218 with 23 less extra base hits). For lack of a better option, it's likely he'll get another year with Nashville.

Wilson on the other hand, followed up his 19 home run 2008 campaign with 13 in '09. They say the Florida State League is tough on hitters, so his numbers there are alright. If he can continues to progress he may project as a Lyle Overbay type of first baseman but with a lower average.

First base is not a strength for Milwaukee, and it's likely that the the best way to find a first baseman of the future is to move Mat Gamel over from third, that is if he doesn't get traded. In Milwaukee's farm system there are guys that could be solid players, but none that look like future stars.

Let's just hope the Brewers can hang on to Prince.


Farm Report: Catchers

I'd say that it's high time an extensive look at the Brewers farm system, even more in-depth than the farm reports we've cranked out all season long. So one by one we'll be delivering positional rankings for every single spot on the diamond. Today: Catchers, led by the guy who is tearing up the Arizona Fall League.


1. Jon Lucroy (AA)
2. Angel Salome (AAA)
3. Cameron Garfield (Short Season)
4. Corey Kemp (Low A)
5. Carlos Corporan (AAA)

Starting from the bottom, Corporan is probably the most advanced defensively but he is head and shoulders behind Lucroy and Salome offensively. Corporan may be a major league backup someday, in the Mike Rivera mold, unless he makes huge strides with the stick.

Corey Kemp is an interesting prospect, he really burst onto the scene this year by leading Wisconsin with a .282 batting average. His performance led to a brief promotion to Double-A, he'll be one to watch over the next couple of seasons.

Garfield was a 2nd round draft pick this year, he got off to a very quick start hitting .471 in his first six games. As a high school pick, he's got a lot of development ahead of him but definitely one to watch.

Finally, we come to the great catching debate. Jon Lucroy vs. Angel Salome. I'll admit, I like Lucroy better, there are just too many question marks regarding Salome. He's been suspended for steroid use, he's never shown major extra-base power, or run production for that matter and his defense has been a long, slow development.

The fact of the matter is, Lucroy just seems to have a higher ceiling. He's shown good power, 20 home runs in 2008, a very good eye at the plate - he had a .380 OBP for Huntsville this year. And as mentioned earlier, he's tearing up the Arizona Fall League with a .382 average. Only one guy can play next year for Nashville and it will be Lucroy, don't be surprised if Salome is traded during the winter.

Catchers in the Brewers farm system are a far cry from a few years ago when there was no prospect anywhere near the Majors and it was an organizational black hole. Now, the depth at this position is one of the best in the system.