Sep. 23, 2016
So, this year was one of the most up and down Wisconsin sports years in Wisconsin history. The Brewers are constantly rebuilding the farm system for the future, the Packers are hot one week and cold the next, the Badgers football team usurped all expectations, the basketball team lost Bo Ryan, and nobody honestly knows if the Bucks are for real. As it seems, everybody is going in the right direction, but what I have here is a way for the Big Five sports teams to keep going in that direction. I'm also doing what the best thing was and worst thing was within team control, so injuries such as Sam Shields or Khris Middleton don't count against their teams.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
GOOD-RE-ESTABLISHED THE OFFENSE: Should the Pack beat Detroit tomorrow, Aaron Rodgers should be the league MVP. At worst, this is his third worst season as a professional (and guess what, his two MVP seasons are the only better ones) and his league leading touchdown passes are a big reason why. He also has five receivers to gain over 300 passing yards, and has been the lifeblood of the organization. The offense is back.
BAD-DEFENSE REMAINS SUSPECT: I know Sam Shields' injury isn't the Packers fault, but a defense that was supposed to be good isn't supposed to fall apart with one injury. I know all of our corners have one year (or less) of experience, but who's fault is that? It's not the players, and they are doing what they can to try to compensate for lack of experience. That rests on Ted Thompson, just like everything should. It needs to change.
RESOLUTION-USE FREE AGENCY TO HELP THE ROSTER GROW: Our general manager, Mr. Thompson, seems to play the offseason like he is trying to fight with a hand tied behind his back. Sure, the fighting hand is very good, but he could show even more force if he were to use both. What I mean is, he seldom dips into free agency for whatever reason, and if he were truly the talent scout that he is, why not use veteran players along with rookies to help build a roster? When he does go into free agency, he brings back talented players, such as DT Letroy Guion and TE Jared Cook. Use every means you have to help Aaron Rodgers, Ted, while we still have him.
OVERCAME POTENTIAL SETBACKS: I'm not talking about the Big Ten title game, I'm talking about the season as a whole. The Badgers, as most "analysts" predicted, were going to go about 7-5 at best and take a step back. That didn't happen, they went 10-2, and beat the likes of LSU, Michigan State and Nebraska en route to the Big Ten West title. And, most of the team will return next year. They took a step forward.
COULDN'T SOLVE QB: Sometimes it seems that the Badgers have the exact opposite problem that the Packers do, and once again quarterback play was one of the downfalls of the team. Especially in the Michigan game, quarterback play ultimately caused the collapse there. And, in the Big Ten title game, the pressure put on the defense for the entire season may have given way and caused that second half collapse. And that pressure was put on them by a lack of passing game, which led to a lack of offense.
FIND A QB: Usually the resolution comes from what the problems were, and that is the case here. Bart Houston is gone, but it is down to Alex Hornibrook, Kare Lyles and recruit Jack Coan, and all three are "supposed to be good" but that's what people said about Houston and Joel Stave. Hopefully, Malik Zaire commits and we don't have to worry about this, but should he not the battle will be between those three, and we may be stuck in quarterback purgatory for another four years.
GOT TOP FARM SYSTEM: Until the Chicago White Sox recently traded Chris Sale and Adam Eaton for two of the top three prospects in baseball, the Milwaukee Brewers had the best farm system in the land. Now, they are at worst number three, and players such as OF Lewis Brinson and Brett Phillips along with SP Josh Hader should bolster the big league team this upcoming year. The Brewers have nine top 100 prospects, and have balance throughout the farm system. It's not like the Cubs' farm where all the prospects will arrive at once, it is balanced throughout and will be strong for a long time.
COULDN'T TRADE MATT GARZA: Obviously a 73-89 record was bad, but they were debatable for losing 100 games this year, and that was a plus. The Brewers are going into this season with 10 players who could reasonably pitch in the majors, and Matt Garza is the only one who is not part of the plan after 2017. If I'm GM David Stearns, I go dumpster diving and hope to find someone with a high ceiling for Garza, but he didn't. Now, Chase Anderson or Jimmy Nelson loses a spot in the rotation, and Taylor Jungmann, Jorge Lopez and Hader are all supposed to go to Colorado Springs to start the year. The Brewers need to shed Garza's salary and body to help with the future.
SIGN TRADEABLE BULLPEN ARMS: Seeing what the Brewers got for their four relievers should show how teams value the bullpen now, and the Brewers need to go out and sign a guy like Sergio Romo or Greg Holland hoping for a bounceback year and a huge prospect payday. The Brewers got their potential starting catcher and the top prospect in San Francisco for their setup man, so a dominant closer will yield a great return. Look at what the Yankees got for Andrew Miller (it was a better haul than what we would've received for Jonathan Lucroy).
GIANNIS AND JABARI'S GROWTH: The Bucks have two cornerstone pieces who have really became one of the top two punches in the NBA, and assuming Jabari signs an extension, it will be one for years. These two guys and a healthy Khris Middleton give the Bucks a start at a potential championship, and despite an approximate .500 record, fans should be excited for the future.
SIGNING MILES PLUMLEE: Four years and $52 million, for a guy who either starts and then plays eight minutes, or doesn't play at all. What is the point? To prevent other teams for playing him eight minutes a game? He's just a huge waste of money that we could use on guys to actually HELP the team.
FIX THE 4TH QUARTER: All the Bucks can improve on now is winning in the fourth quarter, a problem they have had all year. Had the Bucks won when they had leads by 10 or more, they would be the fourth seed in the east, which really should how good these guys are. A lot of the late game struggles is based on growth, but they still need to find ways to win when it matters most.
GARD'S SUCCESS: In his interim head coaching season, Greg Gard led the once 9-9 Wisconsin Badgers to the Sweet 16, only to lose in a close game to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Not many interim head coaches have that much success, and not many start their first seasons 12-2. After back to back losses by Indiana, Wisconsin has to be considered favorites to win the Big Ten now, thanks in a large part to Greg Gard.
TRYING HARD TO THINK OF ONE: I really can't think of anything too negative about the Badgers, maybe Bo's sex scandal, maybe Nigel Hayes shooting too many threes. All of that isn't really big, though. The best thing I can think of is not using enough of Andy Van Vliet and Brevin Pritzl, but they probably just haven't earned it yet in practice. I truly can't think of something good to put here.
DEVELOP THE FUTURE: Four of the top five scorers on this team will graduate this spring, and outside of Ethan Happ, the future is uncertain for the Badgers. A one-two punch of Happ and D'Mitrik Trice will lead the way, but who is after that? Khalil Iverson is probably next in line, along with Pritzl, Van Vliet and Charlie Thomas. Alex Illikainen is there too, along with four incoming freshmen. Also, there is to be senior Jordan Hill. The pieces are there, but they need to be developed in a way that benefits the program and makes sense. (Also, who names one of their kids "Travis" and the next "D'Mitrik"? Who thinks that way? Just saying)