Cubs

Blooms pulls away in 2nd half to defeat Rich East

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Blooms pulls away in 2nd half to defeat Rich East

By Curt Herron
YourSeason.com

After watching his Bloom squad settle for a 20-17 halftime lead over Rich East on Friday, coach Jasper Williams issued a challenge.

And that was for the Blazing Trojans to become more aggressive both attacking the basket while also picking up the intensity on defense.

That challenge was answered in a big way as Bloom outscored the Rockets 24-7 in the third quarter to help it claim a 64-44 Southland Athletic Conference win in Chicago Heights.

Rich East played a good first half and was more aggressive than we were, Williams said. So at halftime we got on the guys and told them to drive the ball to the basket and get a little more aggressive on the defensive end, which led to some easy baskets on the other end.

The Rockets (9-13, 2-4) overcame an early 7-0 deficit to grab the lead for the only time at 17-16 following a basket from Anthony Perkins (nine points) late in the second quarter.

But Bloom (19-3, 5-1) got a pair of layups from Zerell Jackson (11 points) after that to move back in front and claim a three-point halftime advantage.

The run continued after the break as seven different Blazing Trojans contributed points to help their team build up a 44-24 lead through three quarters.

Donald Moore (13 points) and Lejavius Johnson (seven points) scored five points apiece while Henry Hicks (11 points) and Dejahown Freeman (six points) added four points each in the third period.

At halftime, coach told us to pick it up on defense since thats our offense, Moore said. That helped us get a lot of steals, fast breaks and layups. We knew that Rich East was going to come out hard since they were coming after us.

Jataryan Dejaraux added seven rebounds for Bloom while Rich East also received 11 points from Don Henderson and 10 points and seven rebounds from Ronald Lawton.

We came out flat in the third quarter and you cant do that against Bloom since theyre very good at expanding on a lead, Rockets coach George Leonard said. I thought that we did a pretty good job defensively during the first half but they killed us on the boards.

The low-key move that may pay dividends for Cubs in 2018 and beyond

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USA TODAY

The low-key move that may pay dividends for Cubs in 2018 and beyond

The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is alive and well and this offseason has been further proof of that.

The St. Louis Cardinals haven't made a rivalry-altering move like inking Jake Arrieta to a megadeal, but they have proven that they are absolutely coming after the Cubs and the top of the division.

However, a move the St. Louis brass made Friday afternoon may actually be one that makes Cubs fans cheer.

The Cardinals traded outfielder Randal Grichuk to the Toronto Blue Jays Friday in exhange for a pair of right-handed pitchers: Dominic Leone and Conner Greene. Leone is the main draw here as a 26-year-old reliever who posted a 2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 10.4 K/9 in 70.1 innings last year in Toronto.

But this is the second young position player the Cardinals have traded to Toronto this offseason and Grichuk is a notorious Cub Killer.

Grichuk struggled overall in 2017, posting a second straight year of empty power and not much else. But he once again hammered the Cubs to the tune of a .356 batting average and 1.240 OPS. 

He hit six homers and drove in 12 runs in just 14 games (11 starts) against Joe Maddon's squad. That's 27 percent of his 2017 homers and 20 percent of his season RBI numbers coming against just one team.

And it wasn't just one year that was an aberration. In his career, Grichuk has a .296/.335/.638 slash line against the Cubs, good for a .974 OPS. He's hit 11 homers and driven in 33 runs in 37 games, the highest ouput in either category against any opponent.

Even if Leone builds off his solid 2017 and pitches some big innings against the Cubs over the next couple seasons, it will be a sigh of relief for the Chicago pitching staff knowing they won't have to face the threat of Grichuk 18+ times a year.

Plus, getting a reliever and a low-level starting pitching prospect back for a guy (Grichuk) who was borderline untouchable a couple winters ago isn't exactly great value. The same can be said for the Cardinals' trade of Aledmys Diaz to Toronto on Dec. 1 for essentially nothing.

A year ago, St. Louis was heading into the season feeling confident about Diaz, who finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year race in 2016 after hitting .300 with an .879 OPS as a 25-year-old rookie. He wound up finishing 2017 in the minors after struggling badly to start the season and the Cardinals clearly didn't want to wait out his growing pains.

The two trades with Toronto limits the Cardinals' depth (as of right now) and leaves very few proven options behind shortstop Paul DeJong and outfielder Tommy Pham, who both enjoyed breakout seasons in 2017.

Meet the Prospects: Blake Rutherford

Meet the Prospects: Blake Rutherford

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Blake Rutherford

Rutherford, the 20-year-old outfielder, was the highest-rated piece of the return package that came back to the White Sox in the seven-player deal that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the New York Yankees last summer.

A California native, Rutherford was the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft. After only playing rookie ball post-draft in 2016, he played 71 games with Class A Charleston last year before the trade, slashing .281/.342/.391 with 20 doubles and 30 RBIs to go along with a pair of home runs. After the trade, Rutherford played in 30 games with Class A Kannapolis, slashing .213/.289/.254 with 26 hits and 13 walks.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Rutherford rated as the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Rutherford in the video above.