Category Archives for "Blog"

SOME LITTLE THINGS THAT BOTHER ME…

BREWERS

  • Please explain to me how the Milwaukee Brewers ‘offense’ has totally fallen apart after the Jonathan Lucroy trade.  I loved Luc and everything he stood for, but he was one player and the offense was not built around him. To say this offense is struggling would be an understatement.
  • I am waiting to see who the Brewers bring up after Sept, 1, especially the starting pitchers.  If we have to look at Matt Garza, Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson the entire month of September, then please don’t tell the fans you are rebuilding. Give them a chance to build up some trade value, but don’t punish the young pitchers that need to be looked at (see my last blog). Even if you give them a couple starts or use them in relief, they need some big league exposure.
  • We need to bring up an outfielder or two, because only Ryan Braun and Keon Broxton should be brought back next year with the idea of starting.
  • With Jeremy Jeffress’ latest brush with the law – which no one ever wants to see happen – the Texas deal is looking better.  I’m still curious to see the PTBN in the deal based on what’s been promised.
  • I know they will get a better draft pick as the team plays worst and I know the effort is being made – which is a credit to Craig Counsell – but I hate to see them go down the toilet since they have been competitive most of the season. I don’t care if they finish last, because Cincinnati is a better team which had been playing worst.

PACKERS

  • Those who follow me know that I like Ted Thompson. I am not a ‘FireTedThompson’ guy and people who are know very little about football, so when they say things I find it as ridiculous as me talking about Calculus and Physics. But one thing I really admire Ron Wolf for was his ability to cut bait with his draft choices. He was very candid about his team. I will never forget his ‘we were just a fart in the wind’ comment when the Packers blew the Super Bowl to Denver.So seeing Thompson sign tight end Jared Cook for a reasonable price (that’s important)  instead of sitting on his hands, trading OLB Lerentee McCray to the Buffalo Bills for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2018 and finally cutting the embarrassing punter Tim Mastay gave me hope. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about his replacement Jacob Schum except that he is NOT Tim Mastay. Being a good holder is no reason for keeping a punting job.
  • It will be interesting if the Packers go with Brandon Burks as their third running back or sign one of the many RBs who will be let go in the final cuts. I am not among the many people who think Eddie Lacy will run for 1200 yards and score 12 TDs (ALTHOUGH I WOULD  LOVE TO SEE IT) and I have never been a big fan of James Starks, who fumbles and gets hurt too much. I do think the No. 3 back will be important.
  • The depth the Packers have put together at defensive back (love Joe Whitt) and linebacker is outstanding, but I wonder if the lack of depth in the front line (because of injuries and stupid suspensions) will end up off-setting them.
  • If Jody Nelson can be 100 percent, hopefully Randall Cobb will be better. Jared Abbrederis and Ty Montgomery (a bigger Cobb) need to stay healthy and Trevor Davis and Jeff Janis (if healthy) are good special teamers at least.
  • I like Janis. When I hear things like ‘he’s stupid, he doesn’t run routes’ I wonder if these people watched him play down the stretch. That one is on Aaron Rodgers as much as anyone. Janis in a couple games did more than Davante Adams did all season. Thompson will keep him because he is a high draft choice despite the fact he has hands of stone. It’s moves like this that could hurt the Packers.

 

THOSE REBUILDING BREWERS

With the Milwaukee Brewers approaching the final month of the season, I thought I would take a look at the first year of the club’s rebuilding process. Some good, some bad. Some promise, some disappointment.

I thought I would do that by breaking down the roster – infield, outfield, catcher, starting pitcher and bullpen – and sharing my thoughts.

INFIELD (B-)

Unlike a lot of people, I’m not going ga-ga over Jonathan Villar. When I see a player consistently making the same mistakes over and over and over, I have a tendency to wonder how much baseball smarts this player has.

Some people compare him to Carlos Gomez, but I’m not one of them. Gomez was a terrific fielder at a different position. Every time someone hits a ground ball to Villar when he was at shortstop, with runners on and two outs, for example, I held my breath. Making the spectacular play and blowing the easy one at one of the most important positions is not a good thing.

I can see how Villar is compared to Gomez on the base paths – they hurt you as much as help you with some of the dumbest base running I have seen in years. And when I see that repeated, it bothers me more than it seems to bother the Brewers.

In my own opinion, I think Villar has individual goals (stolen base title) at the top of his mind, knowing if he’s successful he will help his team. I don’t see him as a selfish player.

The other reason I can’t compare Villar to Gomez is his approach at the plate. Most of the time he is patient and his on base average (.381) and batting average (.298) through August 24 is excellent. You don’t see him screw himself into the plate trying to hit homers like Gomez did.

I’m not sure where Villar’s future lies. He’s at third base for now, but he might be a better second baseman. But there lies another situation.

What do the Brewers do with Scooter Gennett, who has worked hard to show he can hit lefthander’s when given the opportunity this season. Villar and Gennett have similar doubles/triples stats, the same amount of homers and Villar has a slight edge in RBIs. However the biggest difference is BA (.298 to .268) and OBP (.381 to .322), which gives Villar a bigger advantage.

I see Villar as a placeholder at third, but his future might be at second base, if he is not used as trade bait in the off-season.

Speaking of placeholders, that is what Chris Carter is. What you see is what you get. A .223 BA and a .323 OBP. You would like to see both improve a little (.235, .340), but he is getting paid – and not a lot of money at that – to hit homers (30) and drive in runs (70) and he has done that. With no first baseman or third baseman on the horizon for a few years, GM David Stearns has to find placeholders like Carter for now.

The other big surprise – and this is something I predicted last spring – is Hernan Perez. He can play the corner outfield positions and any infield spot – but his bat is what has him up here. He is hitting .282 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs with 20 less games than Villar and Gennett. He needs to work on his .308 OBP, though. But every team needs a player like Perez and he has been one of the biggest surprises this season. A great utility player for a good team, but one who sees every day action now with a rebuilding squad.

The Brewers brought Orlando Arcia up to take some of the attention away from the Jonathan Lucroy-Jeremy Jeffress deal which has Texas at the top of the American League right now. I am interested in seeing who they got as the third player since they keep saying he is a very quality player. He better be.

The Brewers can deny it all they want, but that was the major reason for Arcia’s promotion. I just hope they don’t make the same mistake with him that they did with Keon Broxton (more on that later). Arcia has struggled and has been in and out of the lineup a little, but now is the time to throw him in there and have him play since they are ‘rebuilding.’ Sitting Arcia on the bench helps no one.

OUTFIELD (D+)

Ryan Braun is having an excellent season. He is batting .316 with a .378 OBP and 13 stolen bases. His power numbers (22 HRs, 71 RBI) would be better if he played more (104 of 125 games) because of the rest he has been given (back). Of course, without that rest, Manager Craig Counsell probably couldn’t have gotten that much out of him.

Ironically the contract Braun signed is not as much of a burden if the Brewers wanted to trade him because of some of the moronic signings by other owners last spring to lesser players. Since the Brewers are not paying anyone else besides Matt Garza, a payroll dump is not something they need to do.

They don’t need to trade Braun – and they don’t have to – since he is the closest thing they have to a major league hitter on the current team, which is struggling to be respectable offensively in the last few weeks.

Wasting their time with the likes of Ramon Flores – and it was a waste of time – and playing Kirk Niewenhuis in more than just a utility role left huge holes in two-thirds of the outfield.

Domingo Santana’s various injuries couldn’t be helped, of course, and now he lost most of the year and the Brewers have no idea whether he can be a good – ‘good’ is the key word here – major league outfielder.  Fact was Perez was the Brewers second-best offensive threat in the outfield behind Braun when Counsell moved him to right field.

Then there was Keon Broxton, who I felt was the favorite for centerfield going into spring training. He struggled to start the year going 0-for-24 and since his return on July 25 he is batting.329 (26-for-79, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 10 SB) in 26 games since being recalled from Triple-A. But the Brewers kept messing with him playing the yo-yo game when they had nothing on the MLB roster which was better. He was on the roster from Opening Day through April 16, May 20 through June 3 and June 10 through July 3 before bringing him up for good.

To Broxton’s credit, he worked on his batting stance, dropping his hands and hopefully now this is a sign of the future. But if you ‘claim’ you’re rebuilding, sending him up and down so many times is not the way to go about it.

The Brewers have several outfielders among their top position players in the minors. Hopefully they are smart enough to see if someone has the ability to jump from Double A to the bigs next spring they shouldn’t hesitate to try it like other clubs do. Give people a reason to buy tickets.

CATCHING (D+)

It will be interesting to see what Stearns does here. Martin Maldonado knows the pitching staff, has a good arm but his offense is hit and miss, with emphasis on the latter. But to be fair, that’s not what he gets paid for.

In his first 13 games, Manny Pina hit .308 with a .438 OBP. He had a nice Triple A (.329, 5 HR, 43 RBI), but he isn’t the answer either. Besides Maldonado is 30 and Pina is 29. Andrew Susac, 26, who came in the Will Smith trade and is injured, is a journeyman. Their top catching prospect Jacob Nottingham is at least two years away.

It will be interesting to see what they do.

STARTING PITCHING (D+)

A 31 year old rookie and a pitcher who can’t break a pane of glass. These are the highlights of the 2016 starting pitching staff.

I couldn’t imagine where the Brewers starting staff would be without Junior Guerra and Zach Davies. Guerra is 7-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 starts with 90 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. Opponents have only hit .206 with a WHIP of 1.09.  Those stats are outstanding.

Davies isn’t impressive looking (6-0, 155 pounds) but the 23 year old is 9-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 22 starts. He’s fanned 100 in 127 innings with a .264 BAA and a 1.26 WHIP. I have not enjoyed watching a pitcher work a hitter in years like I have watching Davies.

Davies reminds me of former Brewers Pete Vukovich, as his goal is to make you hit his pitch. He works the corners, works the inside of the plate, throws a lot of off-speed pitches, which make his 90 MPH fastball look more impressive.

He might look way younger than his age, but when he opens his mouth he is an intelligent young man who gives a good interview.

His problem is if he has an off-day or if his pitches catch a bigger part of the strike zone than he wanted to, you could usually find them somewhere in the bleacher seats. Not a lot of margin for error.

The only goal the front office should have with two other starters (Garza and Wily Peralta) is simple. Pray they pitch well enough to have some value to be moved in the off-season. I actually prefer Garza, who will be harder to trade because of his contract, more than Peralta, who is tradable. I have never be excited about Peralta – he reminds me too much of Yovani Gallardo – way over-hyped and too inconsistent to start for a successful team UNLESS they’re desperate (i.e. Baltimore Orioles).

Chase Anderson to me is ‘just a guy’ with a 7-10, 4.99 ERA, who opponents hit .270 against and who puts too many guys on base (1.42 WHIP).

How fast this ‘rebuild’ can happen will depend a lot on the pitchers.

Needing to bounce back QUICKLY are pitchers like Jorge Lopez and Taylor Jungman (I haven’t given up on him yet), for example. I think their best starting prospect is Josh Hader and I see no reason he isn’t given an opportunity in September.

Hiram Burgos (8-9, 4.60 ERA), impressive stats at Colorado Springs, Aaron Wilkerson, acquired in the Aaron Hill deal and Wei-Chung Wang, they held on to him as a Rule 5 Draft pitcher when he couldn’t contribute, so why not see if he can now since he has had a good season. Besides, he’s lefthanded. And don’t put him in the bullpen!

Brandon Woodruff also deserves a chance (7-8. 3.63 ERA, 98 K in 91.2 IP, 1.15 WHIP).

BULLPEN (B)

Speaking of the bullpen, Stearns has done a great job of putting it together and Counsell has done a great job of using them.

They traded their two best bullpen pitchers (Jeremy Jeffress, Will Smith) and never missed a beat with Tyler Thornburg taking over the closers role. I didn’t agree with adding Carlos Torres, but it was a brilliant pickup by Stearns, as Torres is 2-2 with a 2.81 ERA, 62 strikeouts in 64 innings and a .213 BAA and a 1.17 WHIP.

Corey Knebel has pitched well (3.44 ERA, .215 BA, 1.36 WHIP) when he wasn’t on the disabled list. Michael Blazek, Jacob Barnes, Damien Magnifico, have pitched well when healthy, but because of the injuries some of the stats don’t show it.  Brent Suter, who started at Triple A, will work out of the bullpen, giving the team a lefthander.

SUMMARY (C-)

I thought the Brewers would win 68-72 games – I was optimistic, I guess. I cheer for them every game, but when they lose I don’t shed any tears. Most of the year they stayed in games and if they lost, it happened late in the game so they got me to stick around.

My grades reflect that the outfield and the starting pitching were big disappointments in 2016.  But the bullpen and the infield leave hope for the future. With a month to go, it will be interesting to see what happens in September.

Stearns made a statement last week that he won’t be bringing up many prospects ‘because he doesn’t want a crowded clubhouse.’ I hope he was kidding, because now is the time to get a look at what’s in store for 2017.

That’s part of  ‘rebuilding,’ David.

HERE’S HOW I SEE IT

I recently retired from my position at Community-Now Newspapers and web sites, but I am far from retired. I still cover sports events for my former employer and I write stories for the Milwaukee Brewers ‘Game Day’ Program. But I found something to keep me busy and keep my passion for all sports going.

And that’s Preps2Pros – my main ‘retirement’ project.

PREP FEATURES

I did a great deal of writing – mainly reporting the sports news – the last 14 years. However, I found myself doing less and less of what I enjoy the most – writing feature stories on prep athletes and seeing them as people, not just stats and individual accomplishments. This is what I hope to do with the major feature of Preps2Pros.

I plan on featuring a story on a local athlete every week.

My first one is Brookfield Central’s outstanding outside linebacker Reggie Jennings, the first junior to receive a scholarship in Wisconsin, as the Badgers made him an offer last spring.

In the next few weeks I will also have features on …

  • Brookfield Central junior Emily Balding, the defending Greater Metro Conference Golfer of the Year.
  • Brookfield East senior mammoth guard Max Aslin, one of the key lineman who opens
    holes for All-State Running Back Sam Santiago-Lloyd.
  • Brookfield East tennis players – senior Emma Corwin and sophomore
    Emily Horneffer – who are following in the steps of their brothers, who were three
    outstanding tennis players, with three state titles among them.

BLOG

Every week I will have a few blogs, depending on what is going on in the professional sports world. I will focus on the Brewers, Packers and Bucks, but I can write on anything.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter @skyskibosh know I have a tendency to be candid. Some of my followers feel that my objectivity is negative. Now I am a fan of all three teams, of course. I hope they all have winning records and eventually win a championship when ready.

But I don’t wear blue, gold and green – colored glasses. Having worked for the Brewers for 19 years and having been a sports writer for 14, I have a different view of what goes on behind the scenes and I am not afraid to share it.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, know that I start the day with ‘SKY’S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY,’ a quote which I try to tie in with what is happening, usually in the prep sports world. I will do that on my web site as well as on my Twitter account. Based on my retweets and likes, people enjoy them.

STILL TO COME

In the next month I will be adding a section (THE BOOK) on my first book – ‘If You Wanna Have Fun, Go someplace Else’ – a humorous inside look at major league baseball. This is a behind the scenes look at my Brewers career. The first element available will be an audio version, which can be downloaded. We then will look to have a printed version which can be downloaded a little further down the road.

Even further down the road I will have my second book available – ‘You Wanna Hear Something Funny?’ This is a humorous – and emotional – book that looks at my personal life as well as my career, including my jobs with the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, the Brewers and CNI-Now Newspapers. I have some great stories on several topics which I am looking forward to sharing.

So this is my first blog. Hope you enjoy the web site and please pass on the web site to your friends.

It should be fun!

OUR TEAM

My son Marty Skibosh, a film editor in Hollywood, currently working on the popular Sci-Fi series ‘Supernatural,’ is my web site editor.

My photos are handled by one of the best photographers in the area – Al Hertzberg – who does outstanding work for the local high schools.

They make me look good.

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