Grading every general manager in Wisconsin


General managers often receive a lot of criticism for their decisions regarding an organization. Some fans think that their general manager is too conservative in free agency, others think that their general manager is too liberal with the team’s money.

Some would prefer to focus on drafting young talent, while others would like their general manager to dedicate their attention to signing their team’s veterans to a long-term deal.

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Ted Thompson (Green Bay Packers), Doug Melvin (Milwaukee Brewers), and John Hammond (Milwaukee Bucks) all have vastly different managing styles. Each of these managers has experienced praise and criticism at different points in their careers.

With the MLB offseason, NBA trade deadline, and NFL combine fresh in the minds of fans, let’s take a moment to review each managers’ career with their respective Wisconsin team.

Ted Thompson (Packers)



Thompson began his reign with the Green Bay Packers in 2005. Known for building his team through the draft, Thompson is often hesitant to spend money in free agency.

While his draft record is impeccable (Aaron Rodgers, Nick Collins, A.J. Hawk, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, and Eddie Lacy were all drafted by Thompson), his unwillingness to build through free agency can be a hindrance at times.

The Packers have had the opportunity to sign key players in the past, but Thompson has elected to draft his players instead. It is clear that Thompson prefers to retain a team filled with young talent, but his stubborn approach to free agency is his downfall. Veteran players lend a lot of leadership and expertise to a team. Young players are able to observe them and emulate their play.

Additionally, they are often the leaders in the locker room. Young teams have a lot of potential, but the impact that veterans have on a team should not be dismissed.

Thompson has led the Packers to several successful seasons. The teams that he places on the field win, and in sports, winning can mask a multitude of mistakes. The bottom line is that the Packers are perennial contenders, and that is what matters. For this reason, Thompson receives a B+ on his report card.

Feb 18, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin speaks to the media during MLB media day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Melvin (Brewers)


  • Best Draft Pick: Ryan Braun
  • Best Trade: CC Sabathia
  • Career Highlight: Brewers’ 2008 Postseason Appearance


Melvin is an incredible general manager. Working in a league that does not impose a salary cap among its teams, Melvin has been given the difficult task of managing a small market team. Still, despite his financial limitations, Melvin has made some impressive moves as the Brewers’ general manager.

Unfortunately for Melvin, Milwaukee’s inability to remain consistent often overshadows his success as the general manager.

The reality is the Melvin has been extremely savvy as the general manager of a small market team, and while the Brewers are not playoff contenders year in and year out, Melvin was the one who snapped Milwaukee’s 26-year playoff drought and brought them to the NLCS in 2011.

When reviewing Melvin’s record, his success is quite apparent. He acquired CC Sabathia in the 2008 season to keep Milwaukee in contention for a playoff spot, and he fired manager Ned Yost when it appeared that the Brewers’ playoff chances were rapidly slipping away. His efforts paid off when the Brewers’ earned a playoff spot, their first postseason appearance since 1982.

Later, in 2011, Melvin’s addition of Zack Greinke, played a vital role in Milwaukee’s 96 victories. Acquiring Fransisco Rodriguez for the set-up role was also an important contributing factor. Melvin’s draft pick, Ryan Braun, won the MVP in 2011, and the Brewers played in the NLCS.

Arguably the best year of his career, Melvin made it clear that he was dedicated to producing a winning team.

Finally, when reviewing Melvin, it cannot be forgotten that he drafted players like Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. Furthermore, he was able to sign star Ryan Braun to a long-term deal. Love him or hate him, Braun has been a large part of the Brewers success. Signing a star of Braun’s caliber to a long-term deal in a city like Milwaukee was an important for Melvin.

While the Brewers have not been able to sustain success, their inconsistency has nothing to do with the efforts of their general manger. Doug Melvin has made some bold trades, drafted important players, and led his team to successful seasons. Given his financial limitations and the moves that he has made despite them, Melvin receives an A- on his report card.

Jul 2, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond speaks to the press during a news conference featuring new head coach Jason Kidd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

John Hammond (Bucks)



John Hammond is an interesting case. Interesting because he has had very little postseason success, and he oversaw a team that won only 15 of 82 games last season, but he also managed to put together a team that has doubled their win total and soar past the expectations set for them this season. How can one even begin to grade that situation?

Well, here’s how you grade Mr. Hammond. First look at his time with the Bucks in its entirety. Hammond has been with the team since April of 2008. During his tenure, the Bucks have made the playoffs twice, but they have failed to win a playoff series.

Hammond does have an overall winning percentage under .500, but he did win the NBA Executive of the Year award in 2010, proving that he could place a successful team on the court.

At first glance, it would seem as though Hammond is nothing more than an unstable gambler. Experiencing mild success and extreme failure, fans may begin to believe that their general manager is subject to the luck of the draw, so to speak. They may think that he selects a random group of players and hopes for the best.

However, there is one key factor to John Hammond: his ownership. Working under Herb Kohl until the end of the 2013-14 season, Hammond was told to put a competitive team on the court. Grabbing helplessly at affordable free agents, Hammond never truly got the opportunity to rebuild a squad.

Yet, in the 2014-15 season, Hammond got new ownership in Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry. With new owners calling the shots, Hammond got the opportunity to rebuild his team. Drafting Jabari Parker, he made it clear that he was building a team for the future, not for this season.

While the Bucks have been mildly successful this season, they are not yet a championship caliber team. However, in a few years, after a couple more drafts and developmental years for this young team, the Bucks could be competing for a championship team.

No longer plagued by old contracts and a narrow-minded owner, Hammond could experience some substantial success as a general manager.

Hammond receives a B- on his grade report. He got some points taken off creating a team that could only muster 15 wins last season, but he received extra credit for drafting Parker and removing Larry Sanders from the organization. He still has yet to prove that he is ‘A’ material, but he definitely has potential.

Wisconsin teams are well managed. Some have experienced more success than others, but they have all been successful at one point or another. Considering the poor management of so many professional teams, Wisconsin fans should feel  fortunate to have Thompson, Melvin, and Hammond managing their teams.

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