Ring or Bust (not the HOF variety)?

I, like many, misjudged the Brewers, however I’ll say I REALLY missed on their result.  However, as I mentioned in the Bucks catch-up, the Brewers completely shifted expectations to the point where, by not winning the World Series, possibly failed.  How so?  It’s hard to imagine having a better situation to win than hosting Game 7 of the NLCS with your Ace on the mound.

Now the Brewers are in a position, entering a season, where the fans’ expectations should be quite high.  This is newer territory, however the way this team is constructed, there should be real belief that this team should contend for another deep playoff run.

As I write this, there’s a few injuries that have flared up and putting the Brewers largest strength (bullpen) in handcuffs.  Shoulder soreness for Jeremy Jeffress and a torn UCL (elbow) for Corey Knebel—which means the pen management will even be more essential to the Brewers’ success in 2019.  The change the Brewers did make is adding Catcher Yasmani Grandal, whom will add quite a bit of pop to the lineup (24 HRs, 68 RBI), which may be even higher hitting in Miller Park vs pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium.  All in all, if the Brewers have heavy contributions from Moose and Grandal to make up for whatever Yelich isn’t providing (is it possible to replicate his 2018 campaign?  Possibly) it’s very realistic to expect the Brewers to be the cream of the crop.

I believe the Brewers are every bit as good as last year, but their record may dip a bit as the NL Central has improved with the additions made by the Cardinals and Reds.

Prediction Time!

Brewers record: 92-70
Astros > Cubs

Bucks– Changing Expectations?

March 27, 2019 at 7:41am CST—the Milwaukee Bucks currently hold the NBA’s best record, by 4 games, with six to play.  Essentially the realization the Bucks will finish with the best record ensuring home-court advantage throughout the entire playoffs is upon us.

For those that follow, you’re aware I don’t often write about the Bucks, however I’ve been a fan since I was a child, have attended games annually, and figured with their deserved attention that it would make sense to offer a perspective to some that may or may not be seeking it…if that makes sense.

The Bucks came into the 2018/2019 campaign with the goal in mind to Win a Playoff Series.  However, with what’s transpired 76 games into the season, they’re (on paper) clearly the best team in the Association and have the best player (Giannis Antetokounmpo), the expectations have shifted…or have they?  At this point, with what the Bucks have shown, wouldn’t it feel like a downer if the Bucks don’t win the NBA Finals?

I’m all about winning championships, but even I can understand if the Bucks lose a series in the Finals to the well-experienced (and arguably one of the all-time great 5-year franchise runs) Warriors team.  Even then, like the Brewers last year, many enjoyed the ride, if the Bucks find themselves with home court advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals, or NBA Finals, and not capitalizing on that would seem like blowing an opportunity that they may not have again…then again, with Giannis, who knows?  That kid is special beyond talent.

Regardless, expect the Bucks to be favored in each series they play in the Playoffs, and expect them to win it.

A New Season…New Outcome/Direction?

Much goings on for Wisconsin sports fans as of March 26th, 2019.  The Packers had quite the activity in free agency, the Bucks continue their dominance of the NBA, and the Brewers are ramping up to take the next step and win the World Series.  Let’s break this down in a 3-day look, shall we?

Today let’s take a look at the Green Bay Packers.  Coming off an awful season (record-wise, but the changes came as a result, so look at it as an investment), the Packers have essentially rebuilt the entire organization, top to bottom, except for the QB position.  They invested more years and money into Aaron Rodgers, meaning:

  1. Gutekunst and the Packers brass were either too scared to send him off and complete the full on rebuild OR…
  2. Gutekunst and the rest believe they can rebuild around #12 to get back to the playoffs (which I believe is their ultimate goal, back to consistent playoff appearances) which gives them a “chance” at winning it all.

Either way, it’s better than changing nothing, so it’s a major step in the right direction.

Many fans are sad to see Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb leave, along with having an opportunity to resign Jordy Nelson since Oakland cut him…I get the fondness of fans wanting to bring back and/or keep fan-favorite players, however those 3 were not contributing to the improvement of the team, but more so kept Green Bay at a level to not fall below the line to where they’ve recently gone, missing the playoffs.  Either way, each guy seemed great, weren’t a distraction, however cost quite a bit of money and has since been replaced with younger, and likely improving players at their positions.  Again, it’s a change in the proper direction.

Free Agency—well for those who wanted to build through free agency, here you go.  I like Free Agency, in the NFL, for filling some holes and adding depth vs. filling needs where you need key players.  Main reason is free agency rarely works out for those big contracts.  The Packers invested in 4 free agents last year, two returning to their initial teams (House and Tramon), and none made an impact. Actually all could be considered a waste, so 0-for-4.  *ProFootballFocus ratings, rankings*

  • Davon House, 28.8 (unranked, injured)
  • Tramon Williams, 68.0 (67th Safety)
  • Muhammad Wilkerson, 76.5 (unranked, injured)
  • Jimmy Graham, 59.4 (48th TE)

As you can see, not that ProFootballFocus is the end all be all, but it does at least show a consistent grade to quantify the value of players in addition to looking at their stats.  Regardless, if you watched Packer games closely, or even more than once, you would know these players didn’t contribute much to the season, especially to their contracts.

Brian Gutekunst is doubling down, in a sense, on free agency, in hopes these “proven” players add value and aren’t finished improving.  It’s a dangerous game, then again without taking risks, there’s no real expectation to win.  Let’s take a look at the incoming FAs:

  • Za’Darius Smith, 71.7 (33rd Edge-rusher)
  • Preston Smith, 76.9 (19th Edge-rusher)
  • Adrian Amos, 82.7 (8th Safety)
  • Billy Turner, 62.8 (33rd Guard)

Just from an incoming standpoint coming off their 2018 campaigns, each of these players should increase production at areas of need, which (on paper) allows the Packers to attack the draft, properly; drafting best player available.

Since we have a month until the Draft, I’ll cover potential targets closer to the date (Thu, April 25th).  In the meantime, keep in mind the Packers essentially went through a rebuild at almost every area, and replaced older players with youth and improving talent, aside from the QB position, which they’re obviously married to, based on their actions.