Editor’s note:  Now that the regular season is over for the Wisconsin  football team, I plan to take a little different tack with this space (the more alert among you may have noticed the title change).  In recent months, I focused largely on a recap of the most recent Badgers game mostly because of timing and the fact that this site has plenty of other writers who tend to focus on the Packers, especially at this time of year.  Going forward, I intend to provide a partial reprise on the week in sports (with an emphasis on WI, of course) and also to mix in my own take on recent developments. That means this may also appear on Saturday as the mood and free time strikes me.  Hopefully it will work out in some fashion.  For better or worse, though, you’re not likely to see any pictures of actress/models or athletes on this page.  But I wouldn’t rule out a picture of my dog(s) at some point.

There were two noteworthy player movements in Major League Baseball this week that had a direct effect on the future of the Milwaukee Brewers, even though they were not involved in either of them.  First, the Chicago White Sox signed first baseman/outfielder Adam Dunn away from the Washington Nationals as a free agent.  Then yesterday, the Boston Red Sox traded 3 minor league prospects to the San Diego Padres in exchange for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Both of the moves impact the Brewers’ plan of action with impending free agent first baseman Prince Fielder by further limiting the trade/free agent signing possibilities for Fielder.  You may recall that the Brewers discussed Fielder with the White Sox last summer before the trade deadline and Milwaukee General Manager Doug Melvin admitted this week that he had more contact with Chicago regarding Fielder before the White Sox decided to go with Dunn.  Obviously, nothing came of those discussions.

It’s generally been assumed, considering Fielder’s girth and game, that he’d be a better fit as a designated hitter in the American League.  Since Fielder is represented by uber-agent Scott Boras, who has traditionally garnered top dollar for his clients, Boston could have been a likely potential destination for Fielder.  Their acquisition of Gonzalez makes that less of a possibility.  The presence of Mark Texieira in New York probably lessens the Yankees interest, though it remains possible that the Yankees and Red Sox could still view Prince as a DH candidate.  Given Boras’ proclivities, that leaves only the New York Mets and maybe the California Angels as teams with the resources to meet his contractual demands.  While this limits the free agent options for Fielder, it also puts a cap on the trade market for Fielder’s services.

It was widely reported last year that the White Sox had offered pitcher Daniel Hudson in return for Fielder but the Brewers wanted more, a popular stance with many fans at the time.  Well guess what?  Hudson later went to Arizona in a trade and pitched pretty well down the stretch for the Diamondbacks.  A 24 year old starter with a 94 mph fastball and decent stuff would look pretty good in the Brewers rotation right now.  The Brewers desperately need starting pitching and Melvin’s misjudgment of Fielders’ trade value could haunt the team for years to come.

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The Brewers’ and Doug Melvin’s dilemma with Fielder got me to pondering the performances of the other general managers of Wisconsin’s professional teams with respect to their current clubs.

John Hammond of the Milwaukee Bucks has stabilized the front office and saved the Bucks from being a laughing stock of Clippers-like proportions but I’m still not quite sure of the direction of that franchise.  Before last season, I questioned Hammond’s trading of Richard Jefferson and the drafting of Brandon Jennings, yet the Bucks went on to have a playoff season despite the loss of starting center Andrew Bogut toward the end of the season.  This year, I applauded the upgrades Hammond made to the Bucks’ roster but thus far they have struggled putting all the new pieces together.  What troubles me even more is they seem to be lacking the ‘chemistry’ that carried them into the playoffs last year.  Clearly the Bucks are better off than before Hammond arrived, but it remains to be seen whether they can achieve the next level.

Which brings me to Packers GM Ted Thompson…………

Thompson has probably been the most widely reviled of any of the GMs in the state, even before the whole Brett Favre fiasco went down.  Of course, a good portion of that has to do with the level of interest the Packers command in Wisconsin.  Still, the criticism of Thompson seems out of proportion with the job that he has done in Green Bay.

How many other teams in the National Football League could sustain the volume and significance of the personnel losses that the Packers have experienced this year and still be in the hunt for the post-season?  Not many; New England, maybe Indianapolis and San Diego.  That’s about it.

Contrast Melvin’s situation with Fielder to Thompson’s handling of Favre.  I don’t know whether fan perception played any role in Melvin’s failure to pull the trigger on the Hudson trade, but at any rate there doesn’t seem to be any discernable plan with regard to how he plans to proceed with Fielder.

On the other hand, Thompson had the wherewithal to trade the most popular, highest profile player in the history of the franchise and now looks pretty good for doing so.  Granted, Thompson has some built-in advantages that his counterparts don’t.  The Packers are guaranteed of playing to a full house and the playing level in the NFL is much more even in relation to the other major sports.  But to his credit, Thompson has never shied away from making an unpopular decision and has a coherent plan in doing his job, even though many of his constituents don’t agree with his methods.  For my money, the results have been pretty good.

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Just when I was ready to write off the Badgers basketball team, they go and lay a beatdown on N.C. State in the ACC/Big(11)Ten challenge.  And then, just when I’m ready to believe, they have a disappointing performance in the succeeding game yesterday against South Dakota.

History suggests that it’s unwise to dismiss a Bo Ryan team, but I’m not getting a good vibe about this squad as it heads toward conference play.  Ryan has generally had players in successive classes step up as needed but this year’s Badgers seem to be caught between recruiting classes. 

They have the two obvious premier players in Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, but so far appear to have very little backing them up.  Keaton Nankivil, Rob Wilson and Ryan Evans are at the point where they should be steady contributors but they remain inconsistent at best.  Ryan must see something in senior Tim Jarmusz that no one else does but I get frustrated watching him miss open jump shots.  Jared Berggren is a forgotten man and I’m disappointed that transfer Ben Brust hasn’t warranted more playing time, especially as there appears to be no one who can effectively relieve Taylor off the bench.  This puts added weight on Leuer and Taylor to carry the team and they seem to be pressing at times, reflected in the poor shooting percentages of the team.  The only bright spot is freshman guard Josh Gasser, who continues to impress with his poise for an inexperienced player.

The Badgers upcoming 3 games are against the other Division I programs in the state so they should at least be well motivated to perform.  Hopefully, they can develop into a better team by the time they begin Big(11)Ten play against Minnesota at the end of the month.  It would be a shame for Leuer to waste his senior season on an also-ran.

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RANDOM SAMPLINGS:  Last summer, there was “The Decision”.  Last week, there was “The Return” with former Cavaliers star LeBron James playing his first game back in Cleveland.  Unfortunately for Cavs fans, there appears to be little left for them without James as the remainder of the team played the game as if LBJ were still a teammate.  It’ll will be interesting to see if that game serves as a springboard for James’ Miami Heat squad, as they have underachieved so far and there has already been speculation that Heat president Pat Riley will decide that coach Erik Spoelstra will need to ‘spend more time with his family’………..Now that the Brewers have either traded, released or moved most of their starting pitching candidates to the bullpen, GM Melvin heads to baseball’s winter meetings with very few prospects of improving his starting rotation.  Looks like it’s going to be another long summer for Brewers’ fans.  At least we should have (PD ‘patron saint’) Bob Uecker for an entire season to help sooth the pain………..Now that the Packers have wisely extended the contract of cornerback Tramon Williams, Thompson should focus his attention on Desmond Bishop.  Yes, even before Cullen Jenkins………..The departures of relief pitchers Trevor Hoffman and Todd Coffey won’t hurt the Brewers’ bullpen but I’ll miss the buzz they provided with their entrances in the late innings………..Let me see if I’ve got this straight; Reggie Bush is personna non grata at USC because his folks accepted inappropriate benefits but the father of Auburn’s Cam Newton can try to auction off his son to the highest bidder and he’s ‘gold’ because he couldn’t get anyone to bite?  There’s a precedent the NCAA will live to regret.  From what I’m hearing about the Auburn program, my prediction is that if they do win the BCS title, it will be vacated within 3 years………..The final BCS standings are to be released today and with them UW’s invitation to the Rose Bowl should be set.  Congrats, Badgers, on a great season………..An interesting week for player news in the NFL:  Buffalo WR Stevie Johnson blames God on Twitter for dropping passes, Arizona QB Derek Anderson went ballistic on Monday and was apologetic on Wednesday, and Houston WR Andre Johnson lays some ‘haymakers’ on Tennessee’s Cortland Finegan, yet is available to play on Thursday night.

That’s all for now, kids.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend and GO PACK!!!!

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Packers-Therapy/113896815298853?ref=sgm Chris

    Spot on re: Ted Thompson.

    Acquiring Hudson straight up for Prince would not only have upgraded the Brewers’ pitching staff, it would have relieved MKE of Fielder’s salary. Missed opportunity on two fronts.

    I am right with you here: “Just when I was ready to write off the Badgers basketball team, they go and lay a beatdown on N.C. State in the ACC/Big(11)Ten challenge. And then, just when I’m ready to believe, they have a disappointing performance in the succeeding game against yesterday against South Dakota.”

  • Jon

    South Dakota made MU work for a win as well…they are not a bad team. Next weeks UW-MU game should tell a lot about both teams.