These are some topics on my mind as of late. When I’m not focusing on one specific argument/issue, I think I’ll do more of these type blogs down the road.
Why does the trade waiver deadline seem bigger than ever before?
Is it me or is the MLB August 31st waiver deadline more active than of recent years? Just look at the blockbuster that went down several days ago between the Red Sox and Dodgers! (By the way, I know it’s early, but the Dodgers are 1-3 since Adrian Gonzalez entered the Dodgers’ lineup). Teams want impact players. I guess that's how you're suppose to win a World Series these days. There are a myriad of players that have already been thrown on trade waivers; some have already cleared…I’m amazed by all the household names on this trade waiver list. Let’s see how many of them find new homes, though, in the next couple of days.
SP Shaun Marcum
SP Roy Oswalt
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Morneau
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SP Jon Lester
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP Kevin Millwood
SP Jacob Vargas
And according to the New York Post, SS Alex Rodriguez has a chance of being put on waivers!
Apparently the Dodgers have interest in just about every one of these players. If the Dodgers were to land another top tier name, I would expect them to win the World Series. Otherwise, their season will be a failure. Magic Johnson apparently wants to win now…and so does GM Ned Colletti. Have people forgotten the Dodgers came out of bankruptcy only a few months ago? Obviously, the change in ownership makes a difference in healing that wound, but to rebound from that and spend this much money in so little time? According to the Wall Street Journal, the Dodgers payroll has nearly doubled from $95 million to $178 million this season. About $145 million of that payroll is divided amongst nine players! If you ask me, those figures are mind-blowing.
As for Shaun Marcum, if he does clear waivers, I’m curious to see what kind of value the Brewers can get in return. It won’t be the type of package we got for Zack Greinke. Marcum’s elbow injury almost destroyed his value. Luckily, you can’t deny a 5-4 record with a 3.19 ERA this season. If Marcum can bounce back from Tommy John, he sure as hell can bounce back from elbow tightness. That logic could give aid to his value.
My Captain’s picks in the Ryder Cup
Miggs in Shorewood tweeted me a question the other day – “If you were the USA Captain for the Ryder Cup Team, who would be your four Captain’s picks?”
The U.S. has quite an arsenal of young talent these days in golf. The Europeans have been dominant for so long in golf, but the Americans are turning a corner in the sport. While the U.S. won in 2008 and fell just short of a victory in 2010, I like their chances of winning this year at Medinah.
Here are my four picks.
Sleeper: Bo Van Pelt
Furyk and Stricker continue to have solid seasons on Tour. They also bring significant experience to Team USA. Although Dustin Johnson has had quite a see-saw season this year, you can never go wrong with him. He is by far one of the more talented young-guns out there. As for Bo Van Pelt, although he hasn’t won much in his career (his first win came at the final U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee), he’s consistently finding himself in the Top 10 on leaderboards. It’s only a matter of time before that guy gets on a hot streak. He will give all of his European competitors a run for their money out on the course.
Hunter Mahan would be a nice pick as well, but he’s struggled in the last month and a half. To be fair, he’s won twice earlier this season on the PGA Tour. If he can catch fire in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, he deserves a spot.
It’s back, BABY!!! European Soccer is back in solid form. I can’t wait to see how things will shape between now and May. The two leagues I’ll be following the most include the English Premier League and the Spanish La Liga.
In the English Premier League, it’s going to be battle between several of the most obvious clubs in England. Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham will be making a run at the title this season. I’m not sure what to make of Fulham and Liverpool at this point. If Clint Dempsey moves from Fulham to Liverpool, then you can throw Liverpool into the mix of competitors. Swansea City is off to a fast start, but I’m not sure how much that run will last. Southampton is one of three newcomers to the Premier League this season. Although they’ve lost their first two matches, they strike me as an intriguing team maybe later this season. The two giant clubs to focus attention towards, though, are Manchester United and Manchester City. They are the favorites in England this year (no surprise).
The signing of striker Robin Van Persie to ManU has set the tone for the rest of the league. ManU is looking for revenge against Man City. Down the road this season, you could make an argument that this could become a bigger rivalry than Real Madrid and Barcelona. The talent on both sides is overly impressive. Then again, Real Madrid and Barcelona could beat ManU and Man City any day of the week.
Speaking of which, Real Madrid and Barcelona square off this afternoon in the Spanish Super Cup. I will be watching that. I’m a devout Barca fan, and I’m going back to that fame city in January. Skeptical about new head coach Tito Vilanova, I believe Barca may not be the same team after losing head coach Pep Guardiola. I do find it bizarre, though, that Pep has yet to land a coaching job in Europe.
What if Derek Fisher was a Milwaukee Buck? We need a guard. He has phenomenal veteran leadership. Is there a leader in the Bucks locker room? He might be old, but he can still make shots. Jerry Stackhouse and Kurt Thomas were pivotal leaders/shot-makers for the 2009-2010 team. I’m just saying…
I’m not the first person to say that the Little League World Series needs to stay off of television. Convinced their coverage of the LLWS is greater than the Superbowl, I believe ESPN has more than half of their payroll out in Williamsport covering those games. Shame on them. How can they dedicate such a significant block of their programming schedule to air this? Because of their stupidity, I can’t watch Around the Horn! If you want to televise just the Little League World Series Championship game, that’s fine by me. It gives the viewer something out of the ordinary for a change. We all know that the United States will be represented in the finals, so why should we care about the elimination games? The only people that really care about the LLWS are the players, parents, and coaches…maybe the local towns where these teams originally come from too. Outside of that, who’s really interested in this stuff? Correct me if I’m wrong. Do the hardcore sports fans, or more specifically the hardcore baseball fans, grab a bowl of chips and a six-pack of beer, and spend their whole Saturday afternoon watching a bunch of 12 year olds play ball? Where’s the entertainment value? What’s there to gain? Sure, these 12 year olds are talented, but why should we care?
In addition to airing the actual game, ESPN goes beyond just the play-by-play rhetoric. Is it necessary to do one-on-one interviews with players? Are these players going to say anything profound? Absolutely not. Their answers have zero content. If a player is interviewed after hitting the game winning home run, we already know what this kid is going to say. Obviously, he’s going to be happy about it. His lackluster answers mean nothing to us. The truth is we don’t care what the average 12 year old kid has to say on national television. Their parents can care as much as they want, but we don’t. I also find it irritating to have an ESPN reporter interview one of the parents during the game. Once again, viewers should expect the obvious. The parents are going to rave of how great their kid really is. Then again, it could be entertaining to watch one of these hardcore baseball parents verbally lambast their child. I see it so many times while umpiring Little League games; trust me, it wouldn’t surprise me to see it on national television.
Another thing that bothers me is when ESPN runs through the team roster. Each player speaks in front of the camera – they give their name, position, and favorite player. Once again, it’s excessive air-time for kids that don’t deserve to be in front of a camera. Do we really care about these kids’ favorite players? One kid said his favorite player was R.A. Dickey. Dickey has had a decent, not superb resume until this year. Nobody thought Dickey would be this good so late into his career. This kid probably turned on ESPN one day, saw Dickey’s numbers being spewed all over Sportscenter, and decided that was going to be his favorite player. I bet you a million dollars this kid had no idea Dickey was sexually abused as a child. Give me a break! Furthermore, they do this same team roster introduction style with the international players too! For instance, the Panama team was speaking Spanish when sharing their name, position, and favorite player. ESPN failed to give subtitles! What’s the point?!
Let me add one other thing worth mentioning. Here’s a video of the Huntington Beach Little League Team. They won the 2011 LLWS. This is the most boring presser you’ll ever see. If you thought Ken Macha was bad, think again. This was a 16 minute post game press conference! What could reporters possibly talk about for 16 minutes!!! Good God! (By the way, the head coach needs to go on a serious diet). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79stQ3uu4Jg
Televised coverage can take a toll on a player. For example, every sport has winners and losers. You’re going to have your players of the game, as well as the players that cost you a championship. While the victorious players have something positive and exciting to look back on, the kid who made the poor throw or didn’t catch the pop-up, which led to the other team scoring the winning run, will be humiliated for the rest of their lives. Why? It was because they were on national television. It hurts enough to be that one player at fault for losing the game, but to have the cameras zoomed in on a kid’s teary-eyed face squatting down in a fetal position? This isn’t healthy for anybody. Adults are more likely to handle that kind of pressure, rather than children. It’s embarrassing. That kid's memory will forever be tattooed with that ugly moment.
Plain and simple - Kids should not deserve that type of respect/face-time. All this coverage does is makes their egos BIGGER or their self-esteem weaker. In my opinion, their stores need to be bigger off the field than what they do on the field. Tell me something I don’t know. I’ve watched some of the LLWS this week; ESPN has had a couple of features on specific players and the hardships they’ve faced growing up. I’d be more interested in that…but then again, save those stories for local television. While interning for Fox 6, I went in the field with Tom Pipines several times to cover some heart-warming and inspiring stories about kids and teenagers, and the challenges they’ve faced as athletes and/or the excess awards they received for their success. Viewers are more interested in those stories from their local communities. That’s my opinion.
I’m not saying we should gut the Little League World Series. I think it’s pretty cool to have some of the best youngsters from around the world play baseball against each other. As they mature as baseball players, the LLWS will bring back fond memories, great tests, and learning lessons. I’ve umpired Little League for the last five year; my philosophy is this - Little League is a ‘learning league’, not a ‘competitive league’. If these kids want to play baseball, they should start in Little League. They learn fundamentals, signs, strategy, making contact, catching, throwing, sportsmanship, winning, and losing. From watching the LLWS, it’s evident that these qualities lack with every single player involved. The more they mature as baseball players, though, the better off they’ll be.
ESPN needs to back off. It’s time for me to change the channel.
Tomorrow morning (or today, whenever the hell you read this), the 1250 Charity Golf Outing kicks off at 10am. Treating this event as if it were a Major Championship, I thought it would be fun to share my analysis of The Oaks course at Edgewood in Big Bend. I played the course this afternoon for only the second time ever, and some of the holes resonated very well (and not so well) to my scorecard. Here are some of the make/break holes on The Oaks course…
#2 – The second hole is a short par 4 that spirals downhill. Trees protect both sides of the fairway. If you’re a long hitter, you should be able to run your ball up to the green from your tee shot. There are bunkers on each side of the green. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some eagles tomorrow.
#4 – Water, water, and more water. While there are zero bunkers on the short and narrow Par 4 fourth hole, there’s a ton of agua. If you don’t feel confident with your woods, I would recommend an iron off the tee. Since it’s a scramble tomorrow, one would think somebody on your team can hit the fairway. Only the penitent man will pass on this hole. Making par here is not the end of the world.
#5 – The fifth hole is a straight, short, and reachable Par 5. Like the fourth hole, though, it’s narrow as hell. There’s a large pond that comes into play just right of the cart path. To the left of the fairway are a long line of woods (luckily they have it marked as a lateral hazard). If you can hit the fairway, you’re in business. The green is protected by two large front bunkers.
#8 – Perhaps the shortest Par 3 and the easiest hole on the course, it’s about 150 yards uphill to a small green. Like the majority of the holes on the Front 9, this hole has woods on both sides. If you can hit a straight iron shot from off the tee, making a birdie on the scorecard shouldn’t be out of reach.
#11 – This Par 3 kicks off a beautiful stretch of scenic holes on the Back 9. Teeing off from the top of the hill, you can see a picturesque view of southern Waukesha County. The hole is about 169 yards downhill to bunkers guarding the right, left, and back portions of the green. A 6-iron was the perfect club for me; I practically threw a dart at the green and left myself about a 30 foot putt for birdie (I ended up two-putting for par). If you hit your shot too long, you may end up in the fescue. There’s a lot of fescue at Edgewood; it can crucify your round if you decide to play out of it.
#13 – By far my favorite hole on the course, this hole reminds me of the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, just for the fact that you’re hitting onto an island green. With a large bunker snaking across the front of it, this green is huge, so it’s not the end of the world if your shot is off target. If you find the water, though, there’s a reasonable drop zone to the left of the green by the cart path.
#16, #17, #18 – The 15th hole is the last Par 5 on the golf course. If you fail to make birdie at the 15th, the final three holes are not too difficult. They are mid-length Par 4s ranging between 350-410 yards. Of the three, the 18th is the easiest. Once you the clear the creek just in front of the tee box and reach a fairly wide fairway, you should be set for a short iron to the green. I almost made birdie there today.
As for the 16th and 17th holes, you have to clear a large bunker tattooed to the middle of the fairway on 16. The fairway is pretty wide, and there’s no chance of hitting it out of bounds. The green is one of the smaller ones on the course, so make sure you get your yardage in order. There’s a ton of thick fescue settling behind the green. Better to hit it short, rather than long.
While the 17th hole doesn’t have any bunkers, it’s important to hit a straight tee shot to a fairway that opens up after 200 yards out. There’s a pond to the left, which is also close to 200 yards away from the tee box. If you can find the fairway, you’ll need a long iron to an uphill green. Depending where the pin is located, it may be a challenge putting. The green is slanted downward from the back to the front of the green. Choose your shots/putts wisely…
Otherwise, have a hell of a time. Drink beer (or what I like to call swing juice), eat as much as you can, and enjoy the little amenities on each hole (like pieing Sparky in the face).
Larry Harris’ group will probably win, so keep dreaming. You’re not going to win. My group could make a run at it, but I’ll keep my optimism to a minimum.
After a ton of buzz from my previous blog on the worst five trades made by Doug Melvin, I figured it was time to honor Doug for some of his greatest moves as GM. Here was some of the hype from people on Facebook in regards to my five worst trades.
Eric writes, “If this is as bad as it gets, I hope that Doug Melvin stays in Milwaukee for several years!”
Joshua says, “ Terrible topic. He’s done more good than bad…unless you loved LaPorta and Cruz, who are pretty much done and passed through waivers multiple times before being picked up.”
Sam writes, “I guess 3,4, and 5 have to be there to have a top 5 list, but if those are in your top worst list, you aren’t doing bad as a GM.”
Kurt complains, “Instead of writing blogs, Joe should work on his updates. Getting them right.”
- You’re right, Kurt. I have a lot to improve on my updates. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Luckily, I’m done with school, so I have more time to work on updates and blogs!
Without further ado, here are Doug Melvin’s five greatest trades to date according to Radio Joe. Let the debate begin!
5. Brewers acquire Closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Mets for pitchers Adrian Rosario and Daniel Ray Herrera.
This was a tough choice. There were so many smaller trades that paid off in big ways between 2008 and 2011. I was also leaning towards the move for Jerry Hairston Jr. or the Nyjer Morgan deal. You guys may say differently. By bringing in K-Rod, it was an insurance policy for John Axford. As we all know, Axford was explosive in 2011. Some believed, including yours truly, that Axford was due for some blow-ups. Oddly enough, it never happened (until Game 5 of the NLDS). Although K-Rod was upset not to be the teams dominant closer, he was near perfect as the setup man. Most baseball analysts would agree that K-Rod and Axford were the best one-two punch in the back end of the bullpen last season. With strong outings from your starters, you knew as a fan that K-Rod and Axford were going to hold the fort down in the end. Furthermore, what have Rosario or Herrera done for the Mets?
I know people hate K-Rod now. I don’t need to get into that. However, he was just another piece of the puzzle from last year’s extraordinary postseason run. That trade has to be documented as a successful one.
4. Brewers trade 1B Richie Sexson, P Shane Nance, INF/OF Noochie Varner to the D-Backs for SS Craig Counsell, 2B Junior Spivey, 1B Lyle Overbay, C Chad Moeller, and pitchers Chris Capuano and Jorge De La Rosa.
This was Doug Melvin’s first blockbuster trade as GM for the Brewers. While the deal did not put the Brewers into the postseason, Doug acquired six decent players with six decent careers in Milwaukee and beyond. That trade allowed him to fill a bunch of holes in that ugly infield. Plus, the D-Backs ran into some bad luck when Sexson got injured early on in the season. Sexson was never the same after that injury. Kudos to Doug! He dealt Sexson at his highest stock and prevailed with some fan favorites (Counsell, Overbay, and even Capuano).
It’s very difficult for me to rank who was the best player in the deal – I’ll leave it up to you. I can say this at least – it wasn’t Chad Moeller (hitting for the cycle doesn’t count).
3. Brewers acquire SP Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays in exchange for 2B/3B Brett Lawrie.
I don’t care what your opinion is about Shaun Marcum. He was the best pitcher in the Brewers rotation for about 75% of the 2011 season. Yes, he pitched horrendous in the postseason, but if it wasn’t for him, we would not be in the postseason. That’s a fact. This year has was going well for Marcum (3.39 ERA in 13 starts this season), until his elbow injury.
Think about this – Marcum is losing money every single day because of that elbow. His value to teams around the MLB is plummeting. This gives the Brewers the upper hand to resign him. Besides, after going through Tommy John surgery back in 2009, Marcum followed with a great season in 2010 for Toronto. In my opinion, I would have no problem resigning him this offseason for the right price. I’m not sold on guys like Mike Fiers or Marco Estrada just yet.
As for Lawrie, I wish we called the guy up sooner to the Big Leagues. I agree with Tim Allen that Melvin and Co. spent too much time grooming him in the minors. This guy had star potential, and he was ready to prove it immediately in the major leagues. Toronto has a nice piece for the future (they just need to control his hot-temper). Would I make that trade again? Absolutely.
2. Brewers acquire SP Zack Greinke and SS Yuniesky Betancourt from the Royals for SS Alcides Escobar, CF Lorenzo Cain, RP Jeremy Jeffress, and SP Jake Odorizzi.
1. Brewers acquire SP CC Sabathia from the Indians for OF Matt LaPorta, OF Michael Brantley, and pitchers Rob Bryson and Zack Jackson.
Let the real debate begin!
First of all, who’s the better pitcher? CC or Zack? It’s CC in my opinion. Sabathia has better career numbers than Zack. He showed more consistency than Zack. He was flat out unstoppable for Milwaukee in his short time here. Meanwhile, Zack cracks a rib due to basketball, misses Spring Training, has a slow start for the first couple of months, but fortunately catches fire late in the season. As a fan, you knew every time Sabathia took the mound, it was going to be another game in the win column. CC Sabathia got this team to their first postseason since 1982. As for Doug Melvin, it was the first premier name he’s brought to this city via trade. It was a signal to the rest of country that this team was ready to contend. While it didn’t give us a World Series, it was a hell of a run…no question.
As for the prospects Doug departed with, it’s obvious which package hurts us the most. Batting .307 with 4 HRs and 36 RBIs, Alcides Escobar is having his best season to date. Lorenzo Cain has been prone to injuries, but has shown positive signs in the Royals’ offense as of late. He has a .269 average with 3 HRs and 15 RBIs in 78 at-bats. Jeremy Jeffress hasn’t done a whole lot at the big league level for KC. Considered to be the crown jewel of the trade, pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi continues his dominance for Triple-A Omaha. Odorizzi is 8-1 with a 3.09 ERA in 12 starts for Omaha. He’s going to be stud in that organization. Ned Yost should be proud – “Jake pitched great!” or “Odor pitched great!”
Examining the Sabathia deal, the results are good on our end. Matt LaPorta has made numerous trips between Triple-A and the Majors. Bryson and Jackson never panned out. The only guy that could have been worth losing was Michael Brantley. Brantley bats .291 with 4 HRs and 46 RBIs. How many Michael Brantley fans are there? I rest my case.
Honorable mentions in no particular order:
Brewers acquire OF Nyjer Morgan from the Nationals for 3B Cutter Dykstra.
Brewers acquire OF Carlos Lee from the White Sox for OF Scott Podsednik, RP Luis Vizcaino, and 1B Travis Hinton.
Brewers trade OF Erik Komatsu to the Nationals for INF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr.
Brewers acquire RP Solomon Torres from the Pirates for pitchers Kevin Roberts and Marino Salas.
Brewers trade OF Darren Ford and pitcher Steve Hammond to the Giants for switch-hitting 2B Ray Durham.
Brewers trade Enrique Cruz and cash to the Rangers for RP Brian Shouse (perhaps the most underrated trade by any means). Shouse was one of the best left-handed specialists I’ve seen play for the Brewers in my lifetime. I could be wrong, though.