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Radio Joe Zenzola

Posts from July 2012

Doug Melvin's top five bad trades as GM for the Brewers
There’s no question that every GM makes a bad trade. Sometimes you have to blame it on the players for not living up to the expectations. Depending if a team is in the pennant race or looking to dump a contract, GMs want to swap quality for quality. Doug Melvin has made some great trades in his tenure for the Milwaukee Brewers. When Tim Allen asked me the other day “What were some of the bad trades Melvin has made?”, nothing came to my mind. Then, after looking back at Melvin’s trade history, I was reminded of a few things. Let’s take a walk down memory lane…
According to yours truly, here are Doug Melvin’s worse five trades as GM for the Brewers. Let's be clear - Doug has done more good than bad as a GM. These trades do irritate me to some extent, though.
5. Brewers trade OF Jim Edmonds to the Reds for OF Chris Dickerson. (Sept. 8. 2010)
Look, the Brewers were not going to the postseason in 2010. Several teams had interest in the veteran Edmonds. There was no question that fans and players liked the guy. Was it fair to trade Edmonds? Absolutely. My problem with the deal was what we got in return. Instead of acquiring a sub-par Double-A pitching prospect (remember Edmonds had a .286 Avg in 217 at-bats for the Brewers), they acquire Chris fricken Dickerson! A major league outfielder with a .205 Avg in 44 at-bats? By trading Edmonds, the Brewers only got worse. Dickerson ended up batting .208 (a slight improvement) in 55 at-bats for the Crew. The reason why the Brewers struggled in 2010 was because of the pitching. Swapping for a pitcher would have made the most logical sense. That deal will always be a head scratcher.
4. Brewers trade SP Doug Davis, RP Dana Eveland, and OF Dave Krynzel to the D-Backs for C Johnny Estrada, SP Claudio Vargas, and RP Greg Aquino. (Nov. 25, 2006)
Looking back at this deal, Doug Melvin traded crap for crap. I think the D-Backs got the better deal. Getting traded to Arizona was probably the best thing that ever happened to Doug Davis. He pitched three consistent seasons for Arizona with an ERA just above four. After we brought him back, though, Davis was horrific. Dana Eveland was supposed to be a young-up-and-comer in the Brewers rotation, but things never lifted off. He’s bounced around from team-to-team (he’s currently with Baltimore), and has a career 5.46 ERA. Having been traded to the desert, Dave Krynzel never got it going in the Arizona system. I don’t think he plays ball anymore…
As for what the Brewers received, God help us. Greg Aquino was a project in the bullpen and didn’t last long for the Crew. The Brewers also received one of the slowest players in the history of baseball – Johnny Estrada. His offense wasn’t bad (10 HR, 54 RBIs, .278 Avg), but he was lethargic and had a big mouth. Perhaps Doug Melvin’s favorite player ever, Claudio Vargas was a joke when we got him in 2007. In 2008, Vargas played for the Mets. He was then reacquired by the Brewers in 2009 (in exchange for Racine native catcher Vinny Rotino). Successful in the bullpen that season, Vargas was 1.78 ERA in 30 appearances. Then in 2010, Vargas sucked it up on the mound, as he put up a 7.32 ERA. After being released, Melvin signed him to a minor league contract this season. He’s currently with Triple-A Nashville. Why does Doug like to keep him around? Maybe Vargas is like a son to him…
Again, this trade solved nothing.
3. Brewers trade 1B Lyle Overbay and P Ty Taubenheim to the Blue Jays for SP Dave Bush, OF Gabe Gross, and P Zack Jackson. (Dec. 7, 2005)
There should be no debate about Lyle Overbay; it was imperative to trade him at his highest stock. With Prince Fielder on his way up to the big leagues, this was the perfect opportunity to reload the farm with young talent. Overbay should have been at least traded straight up for a solid starting pitcher in either Double-A or Triple-A ball. Instead, Melvin added three average players with big league experience. Pitcher Zack Jackson was given the opportunity to show his stuff for the Brewers, but never panned out. He would later be a part of the package for CC Sabathia. Gabe Gross turned out to be a great threat off the Brewers bench, but his numbers dwindled in 2007 and 2008 before he was traded to the Rays. Dave Bush, the man with the highest expectations in the deal, was given way too many second chances. Hard to believe Bush spent five full seasons with Milwaukee (his best came during the postseason push in 2008). Outside of 2008, Bush was dead weight to the franchise. In 2009, his ERA for the season was 6.38! Sure, he had a few outstanding starts from time-to-time, but he lacked consistency. That guy was a cat with nine lives…
2. Brewers trade OF Carlos Lee and OF Nelson Cruz to the Rangers for OF Laynce Nix, OF Kevin Mench, Closer Francisco Cordero, and pitching prospect Julian Cordero. (July 28, 2006)
This trade solved nothing long-term. It was important to get back what you could. In fact, Melvin traded a future player away in Nelson Cruz. Cruz, by the way, has had Corey Hart-like numbers for the Rangers for the last several seasons. Kevin Mench was an OK player; he spent a year and a half with the Brewers before leaving. Laynce Nix was constantly moving up and down between Triple-A and the Majors, and who the hell knows what happened to Julian Cordero? The key player in this trade was Francisco Cordero. In my opinion, of all the closers the Brewers have had in the last 10 years, Cordero was the best one. The guy has been closing games throughout his career, and for the most part, shows consistency in every save opportunity. After a season and a half, I was surprised we couldn’t re-sign him. With that being said, the trade, in general, had zero impact on the future of this franchise.
Like I said, I had no problem trading either Overbay or El Caballo. Those trades needed to be done. The returns were failures.
1. Brewers acquire RP Scott Linebrink from the Padres in exchange for pitchers Will Inman, Joe Thatcher, and Steve Garrison. (July 25, 2007)
Doug Melvin was quoted to say “You have to give up something to get something.” Very true. I could understand surrendering three pitching prospects for a legitimate starting pitcher, but for a reliever with sub-par numbers? I’m sorry the price was too steep for this guy. The Brewers gave up their number three prospect in the system, plus two other highly ranked pitchers in exchange for less than half a season of Scott Linebrink. I’m sorry…Linebrink was way over-priced.

If the Brewers really wanted to contend in 2007, Doug Melvin did not do enough as a buyer. (By the way, here’s an honorable mention. A couple of days later, Grant Balfour was dealt to Tampa for Seth McClung. That trade would rank sixth worse on my list). This was nowhere close to the CC Sabathia trade. Adding Scott Linebrink might have improved the bullpen, but it didn’t send a message to the rest of the league saying the Brewers were a force to deal with. Besides Linebrink wasn’t lights out for the Brewers on a consistent basis. As I recall, he blew some leads in close games. Who knows? Maybe the trade would have paid dividends if the Brewers resigned Linebrink, but he was worth way too much.

I think the Padres got a steal in this deal. However, of the three pitchers, the only one that panned out was Joe Thatcher. In six seasons with the Padres, Thatcher has a career 3.37 ERA. Wish we had him in our bullpen.
As you can see, Doug Melvin is no gifted genius. For the most part, though, I’m a big fan of the guy. He's part of the reason why we've made two postseasons in the last five seasons. I trust his judgment (for the most part).
Do you agree with the list?
Follow me on Twitter: @RadioJoeZenzola
Until next time, Milwaukee…
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It's Tiger's time to take back what he lost
If Tiger Woods would have shot a simple one under par round in the final round of the British Open, he’d be in a playoff right now with Ernie Els. Instead, Tiger adds another minor collapse to his career, beginning with a triple bogey on the long Par Four sixth hole, a hole he birdied in the first three rounds. While I believe his use of iron play off the tee was fairly wise throughout the entire tournament, that particular play lost fluidity in the final round. His new swing developed by his new swing coach Sean Foley is coming along round after round. I think he’s settled into that swing. However, when he needed it the most today, his ball striking was as poor as it ever was. To make matters worse, the wind, the fescue, and the diabolical pot bunkers proved to be a major dent for Tiger. It was nice to see Tiger birdie the 18th to conclude a roller coaster weekend, but in the end, Tiger will return home to Florida without the Claret Jug, and another failed opportunity at winning a major championship title. Just about everybody following the game of golf has been asking this universal question since Tiger won the 20-player field at the Chevron Classic last December. “Is Tiger Woods Back?”
We’re use to Tiger getting out of trouble in awkward lies, making those clutch five-footer, ten-footer, and even 20-footer par putts, and winning tournament after tournament after tournament. After his personal life intervened with his near-perfect and unstoppable golf game, Tiger has not been the same golfer we know today. As we all know, you either love Tiger or despise him. Because of that, you set the bar at a certain level for his golf game. For those that loved him, winning for the first time at the Chevron was a sign that the ‘Old Tiger’ is back. For those that hated his guts, winning the Chevron was a joke. If he ever wants to be the same player he was before his infidelity, he must break Jack Nicklaus’ major record. No matter where the bar is set, there’s always going to be bias.
I’ve always been a big fan of the guy. I was crushed to hear Tiger’s sex exploits when Elin wasn’t around. It was disheartening to see a man, who was practically the king of the world, betray his family, friends, and fans. His whole life crashed to the ground. Deep down as a fan, I know Tiger wanted to get out of this humiliating and unsettling nightmare. If it was going to be anybody that could save Tiger from ruining his life, image, and career, it was going to be Tiger. While I don’t know Tiger personally, I know he’s improving year after year. In the 2012 PGA Tour Season, Tiger is getting close to coming back.
Winning the 20-man field at the Chevron Classic was just the beginning. Tiger has won three times on Tour this year – the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial, and the AT&T National. Tiger also had a tie for second finish earlier this year at the Honda Classic. Leading the PGA Tour in the FedEx Cup point total, Tiger has risen from the mid-20s in the World Golf Rankings to now number four in the world (before the British Open results). In front of him are three golfers that have not been on their A-game - #3 Lee Westwood, #2 Rory McIlroy, and #1 ranked Luke Donald (who has yet to win a major). At this point, Tiger is in the driver’s seat.
On the flip side, while Tiger has won three times, he’s also had some abysmal tournaments. He’s missed cuts at the Wells Fargo and The Greenbrier Classic, while having poor finishes at the U.S. Open (T-21), the Players Championship (T-40), and surprisingly The Masters (T-40). To me, Tiger reminds me of the average Tour player. There are so many great talents on the PGA Tour. The majority of these pros have the tendency of winning at least a couple of tournaments during the season, and then also missing a few cuts. There’s not one golfer on tour as of right now that consistently can win tournaments and/or finish in the top-10 week in and week out. When Tiger Woods was at the top of the world, he never missed a cut. If you follow Tiger close enough, he was always on the first page of the leaderboard, whether he ended up winning or not.
During his absence, not one golfer took it upon themselves to steal Tiger’s mojo. Most of the attention has been centered around some of the young up-and-comers on Tour. Rory McIlroy was supposed to be ‘the guy’. So far, his play as of late has been an utter disappointment. Rickie Fowler, whom I consider to be the most overrated golfer out there, hasn’t done enough, outside of his only career victory at the Wells Fargo this year. Dustin Johnson is another talented stud, but he’s had a difficult time finishing down the stretch, especially major championships (Exhibit A: the bunker situation at the 2010 PGA Championship). In my opinion, Bubba Watson may be that one player that could mimic Tiger’s game. His shot shaping is one of the best on Tour; he can blast the crap out of the ball; not only does he have 4 career wins on Tour early in his career, he’s consistently appearing in the Top-10 on leaderboards. Plus, he has a Masters title under his belt. He’s also a guy that can successfully battle emotions on the golf course. His personal life has always been on his mind - he’s lost his father due to throat cancer; his wife was unable to conceive children, and for a while, they had a hard time adopting a child. Most recently, they were chased in their car by some crazy person in the middle of the night. Perhaps his only flaw, Bubba will also call things like he sees it. For example, he said his game was not fit for the Olympic Club at the U.S. Open (he missed the cut because of that attitude). Bubba, however, strikes me as somebody that can take his game to the next level. And by the way, where has Phil Mickelson been in all of this? That might be the biggest shocker, while Tiger was trying to deal with his personal life.
Case and point - Tiger is at the same playing level as the rest of the professional field. At the same time, not one golfer on Tour wants to take over the power that Tiger once had. This is Tiger’s opportunity NOW to regain and take back the power he lost three years ago. It starts by locking down a major championship. While he’s 0 for 3 in Majors this year, he has another shot at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in August. Whether he wins it or not, I honestly believe that it’s just a matter of time before he wins another major. Although Tiger did not show his best at the British Open this weekend, he managed to finish tied for third. A lot of people from both biases do agree that Tiger will be considered “back” when he wins a major. I believe so, too. We know the guy can win again on Tour; let’s see if he can bring that spark to the Majors. Tiger has a lot of fuel still in the tank. Theoretically, if the guy can stay healthy, the sky is the limit. Remember, Tiger is 36 years old. Tom Watson was 59 when he almost won the British Open a couple of years ago. People thought Jack Nicklaus was washed up at the age of 46 before he won the Masters in 1986. I’m sorry, but if Tiger can’t at least win a Major by the time he’s 46, then we know Tiger is probably done for good. 

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Until next time, Milwaukee…
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Door County, Where I stand as a golfer, and The Green Mile
In my previous blog, I teased that I was going to talk about trading Zack Greinke. Since this topic has been the talk of the town for the last couple of weeks, I’ve decided to give my short take on the matter, and move on to something a little more interesting to the reader…well hopefully.
Should the Brewers trade Zack Greinke? Yes.
What do I want in return? Shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar from the Rangers. If Greinke goes anywhere else, give me a shortstop prospect and/or a couple of talented pitching prospects.
Enough said.
This blog is a compilation of three things – my vacation in Door County, my golf game, and The Green Mile.
This last week was perhaps the most stress free week I’ve had since graduating from Carthage College. In need for a break from reality, I managed to make it happen. After board operating the Rupena’s Baseball Post Game Show last Sunday, as Tim and Sparky were live at Summerfest, I met up with some friends and drove over to Summerfest myself. Bumming around the grounds, we had a couple of beers and some greasy (but great) hamburgers. It was nice to reconnect with some of my closes friends, and regain a social life. While not seeing any of the headliners, we stopped at a couple of bars on Water Street…yes, we all got home safely.
Come Monday, I would meet my family in Door County, and spend the next few days there.
If I retire anywhere, it’s Door County. I’ve been coming up to the peninsula since I was youngster. Why do I love Door County? The answer is simple - the scenic beauty, the fresh air, and the feeling that you’re far away from civilization.
Typically, my family stays at Little Sweden, a timeshare resort just south of Fish Creek. After some complications getting a week in our condo, my mom settled on a small cottage just off the water near Sturgeon Bay. While the pictures of the cottage looked harmless, it was nowhere close to Little Sweden. In fact, we all felt we went back in time. The cottage was clearly something out of the 1970s – old furniture, shag carpeting, a TV the size of a lunchbox (I kid you not), uncomfortable bed mattresses, no internet, and not much room to move around. At least the place was very clean, but outside of that, I promised that I would only spend time there to sleep…I kept that promise.
My week in Door County was this - eating, sleeping, drinking, swimming, and golfing. The biggest thing on my mind, however, was trying to correct my golf game in preparation for the Kenosha County Open.
Leading to the second point in this blog, my journey to Door County allowed me to spend all the time in the world to figure out where I stood as a golfer. Because of my crazy work hours, I haven’t had time to golf. Door County is known for their golf courses, so I played two of the most popular. Booking tee times for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I played twice at Maxwelton Braes in Bailey’s Harbor and once at the Orchards in Egg Harbor. The weather was perfect, and oddly enough, there weren’t as many golfers out there as I thought (maybe because of the economy). In the two days and 36 holes at Maxwelton Braes, I shot 94-92 (there were a couple of mulligans in that round). While my putting was almost stellar, I struck a ton of poor shots with my woods and irons. The problem with my game is consistency, and while shooting in the mid to low 90s is good, it’s not good enough. At the Orchards, a course that plays much longer and wider than Maxwelton Braes, I shot a mediocre 101. The course should be the next stop on the PGA Tour. It’s a titan of a course, and scenic as hell. Although I wasn’t impressed with particular elements of my game, I had to buck up. The County Open loomed…
Leaving Door County early Friday morning, I returned to K-town, changed, and checked the newspaper to see who I was playing with. Sure enough, they had me paired with the two-time defending champ (and Pro) Bob Tierney and former champion Dave Wente. Great…watch me make a complete ass of myself on the course. Struggling to hit quality shots in Door County, I knew that my confidence was lacking. Hopefully, I do something right when playing with these guys.
For the first two holes, I was toe-to-toe with the best-of-the-best. We all pared the first two holes. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Then, my flaws settled in. We were playing the white course at Brightondale. If you’re familiar with the course, the 5th hole has a tight dogleg Par 4, loaded with trees on both sides. If you miss the fairway, you better figure a way to get back on it. So what do I do? Two tee shots in the woods and a couple of penalty strokes later, I holed out for an 11. An 11?! Hell, Bob made a birdie! At least Bob and Dave were very good sports, and did not laugh at me. That’s part of the reason why they were champions.
After having four bad holes throughout my first round, I managed to put up a 101 (53-48). I clearly showed my good, bad, and ugly moments, but had I not butchered some of those holes, I would have shot low 90s for sure. In my opinion, Brightondale is more challenging than the courses I played in Door County.
This is my third year in the County Open, and I have had zero success. In fact, my best score to date in that tournament was a 99. It was my goal to prove that I could go much lower. In the second round early Saturday morning with a different group and course, I fired back with a 92 (49-43). I was dialed in both with my driver and irons; I stayed away from three putts on the greens, and only hit into a couple of hazards. On Sunday morning, it was more of the same consistency I’d been praying for. I fired a 94 (48-46). We played on the white course again, and the holes I butchered on Friday, came with pars and bogeys on Sunday. As for the 5th hole, I made an 8 instead of an 11. It’s an improvement, right?
While I was nowhere close to winning the tournament, I’m glad I battled this weekend on the golf course. I’m glad my confidence level has returned. I’m glad I can hit better shots. What’s the next big event I’m playing in? The 1250 Golf Outing. Last year, our group was second to last at +4. This year, I have a whole new group. In my humble opinion, we’re going for the win in August. Larry Harris (if he plays) and his group better watch out. We’ll give him a run for his money.
Although I was home from Door County, I still took off from work this weekend. The only thing on my agenda was playing in the County Open. Outside of that, I was still on vacation.
My dad has been encouraging me to watch The Green Mile. It’s from Frank Darabont (the same guy that directed the Shawshank Redemption, one of my personal favorites, as well as The Walking Dead, my favorite TV Show), and the story was originally written by the great Stephen King. The Green Mile is set in the Depression Era down in Louisiana. Tom Hanks plays Paul Edgecomb, a prison guard situated in cellblock E, Death Row. He guards those prisoners, and escorts them to the electric chair when it’s time for their execution. Michael Clarke Duncan is John Coffey, a GIANT and burly man convicted of raping and murdering two little farm girls. As Paul looks over the inmates, Coffey begins to perform miracles. Coffey represents a Christ-figure. Without giving anything away, Paul is put in a difficult situation. Should he execute somebody capable of healing others back to life? Would anyone believe what Coffey is doing? I was very impressed with the movie, and the ending made me choke up just a little. Recommend it to anyone.
That was my vacation in a nutshell. Back to reality. It starts with waking up at 3:30am to produce Chuck and Wickett on Monday. While I’ll miss Door County, it’s always nice to get back into the swing of things. After all, there are always more vacations to look forward to…
Follow me on Twitter: @RadioJoeZenzola  https://twitter.com/RadioJoeZenzola
Until next time, Milwaukee…
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