Cubs

With Zambrano gone, will Soriano be next?

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With Zambrano gone, will Soriano be next?

Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano are symbols of the old way of doing business, the boom-and-bust cycles that have swept this franchise.

The Cubs shipped Zambrano to the Miami Marlins on Thursday and will wind up paying roughly 15.5 million of his 18 million salary for 2012. In return, they get Chris Volstad, a former first-round pick whos 32-39 with a 4.59 ERA in his big-league career.

Thats a wash, but the financials wont be as neat for Soriano, who also has a full no-trade clause and is still owed about 54 million across the next three years.

Thats part of Theo Epsteins inheritance. The president of baseball operations pointed to Sorianos 26 homers and 88 RBI last season (while not mentioning the .289 on-base percentage).

Hes a valuable offensive player, Epstein said. If at some point in the future theres a transaction that makes sense with any of our players if it puts the Cubs in a better position going forward were going to pursue that.

But with respect to Alfonso, hes got power and hes an offensive contributor and we can work with him to get the best out of him. Well see where it takes us.

More than once, Soriano has said that he wouldnt block a deal if the Cubs wanted to get rid of him (though that was before Epstein was hired). He will turn 36 this weekend and should eventually transition into being a designated hitter in the American League.

Soriano is a flawed player, but he doesnt alienate teammates and staffers the way Zambrano did, one reason that compelled Epstein to make this trade with the Marlins.

They love Sorianos energy and upbeat attitude. Hes essentially as popular in the room as hes unpopular on talk radio.

It was Soriano who once invited Starlin Castro to live in his house, making the rookie feel comfortable and smoothing the transition. And it was Soriano who confronted Zambrano in the clubhouse on Aug. 12 after the enigmatic pitcher was ejected for throwing at Atlantas Chipper Jones.

The day after with Zambranos locker cleaned out Soriano delivered this memorable quote: Hes a big man, but I think mentally hes weak.

During their initial meeting in October, Epstein and chairman Tom Ricketts discussed a long-range vision and the troubled assets the Cubs have on the books. Epstein had full authority to eat money in the Zambrano deal, and it will be his call on Soriano.

You have to decide, Epstein said, are we better off with one year of Carlos with the 18 million paid? Or are you better paying the 18 million and getting a 25-year-old pitcher (under your control for three years)? Understanding when theres a sunk cost (is sometimes) the sign of a progressive organization.

That said, progressive organizations dont go around randomly calling people sunk costs. I think you have to work with players and try to rehabilitate them. In this case, putting all the factors together, this was the best thing for the Cubs on (and) off the field.

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

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USA TODAY

What Chicago sports fans should be thankful for

Families gather and people talk about things they are thankful for on Thanksgiving, but what are Chicago sports fans happy for now?

Raised expectations on the North Side

Got to be thankful that a “disappointing” season is winning the division and losing in the NLCS. The expectations have skyrocketed, and that’s thanks to a ridiculous nucleus of bats and a steady front office. Not many clubs can say that. Also, though, it’s important to be appreciative of the Wrigley bar stretch. They may charge $8 for a Miller Lite, but it’s always a damn good party.

Javy tags, too. Don't forget Javy tags.

Rebuild sparking hope in White Sox fans

Where to begin? Obviously, be thankful for the plethora of young talent that will soon take over the South Side. Be thankful for Avi Time (while you still can). Be thankful that taking your friends or family to a game won’t cause you to take out a second mortgage. Be thankful for the 2020 World Series and, of course, 2020 MVP Eloy Jimenez. But most importantly, be thankful that Rick Hahn’s phone stays buzzing.

Eddie O back in the booth for the Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are having a rough start to the season, but at least Eddie Olczyk is back in the booth. The longtime Blackhawks broadcaster returned to the booth on Oct. 18 after missing time while undergoing chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer.

With some of the key names from the Blackhawks’ title runs either leaving or being unable to play this season (in the case of Marian Hossa), Blackhawks fans are probably thankful to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice during games.

Lauri Markkanen leading the Bulls rebuild

OK, there’s not much to be thankful for about the current Bulls team. At 3-13, the Bulls are tied for the fewest wins in the NBA (maybe in the long-term that’s something to be thankful for as well). However, Zach LaVine’s pending debut after his eventual return from injury should help create some excitement.

The thing Bulls fans really should be thankful for this year is the play of rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old leads the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) and rebounds (8.3 per game) while shooting at a high percentage (34.2 percent on threes and 50.6 percent on twos). It’s only the beginning of the Bulls’ rebuild, but Markkanen is a good start.

Mitchapalooza

If a few things broke the Bears’ way, Chicagoans could have been grateful that the team was finally out of the cellar. Instead, we’ll settle for the fact that there seems to be some building blocks already in place. Mitchell Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks seem to fit that category. Also, some may be thankful that this is likely John Fox’s last season at the helm.

Fire ending a playoff drought

After finishing dead last in MLS in 2015 and 2016, the Fire were one of the most improved teams in the league in 2017. After posting the third best record in the league, the Fire made a first playoff appearance since 2012.

The playoff run didn’t last long with the Fire losing a play-in game at home, but the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the league’s leading goal-scorer, Nemanja Nikolic, helped fill the stadium with six sellouts and gave Fire fans something to cheer for.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

In the latest CubsTalk Podcast, Kelly Crull and David Kaplan look ahead to Thanksgiving and discuss the official coaching hires for the Cubs.

They also talk about where the Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, whether Alex Cobb could factor into the rotation plans and Kap goes off on the 11:30 a.m. Opening Day start time.

Check out the entire podcast here: