Cubs

Jason Heyward wins his fifth Gold Glove while trade speculation simmers on hot stove

Jason Heyward wins his fifth Gold Glove while trade speculation simmers on hot stove

The Cubs don’t know if Jason Heyward’s offense will ever return, firing hitting coach John Mallee as part of a broader shake-up and hoping Chili Davis can help unlock the potential they saw when they gave him an eight-year, $184 million megadeal.

Heyward’s name is already being floated in early trade speculation, even though he has full veto power through 2018 and specifically chose this organization and this city, even without necessarily getting the biggest guaranteed offer.

Defense is what the Cubs can always count on, with Heyward winning his fifth career Gold Glove when the results were announced on Tuesday night. Hall of Famer Andre Dawson is the only other outfielder in franchise history to win the award more than once (1987 and 1988).

Heyward is also the first Cub to win the award at any position in consecutive seasons since Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux got three Gold Gloves in a row beginning in 2004 (though he finished the 2006 campaign with the Los Angeles Dodgers).

Heyward’s teammates Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist were also National League finalists, with Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and ex-Cub/Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu winning Gold Gloves again this year.

In what should be another pivotal offseason after last winter’s overhauled swing, the Cubs are hoping Heyward can still be the 6-WAR player he had been during four of his first six seasons in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.

From here, it makes no sense for the San Francisco Giants to give up a closer who saved 47 games in 2016 (Mark Melancon) and a 200-inning machine (Jeff Samardzija) — and clear all the financial/no-trade hurdles — for a hitter with a .669 OPS across the last two seasons. Even if Heyward would be a game-changing presence in right field at AT&T Park.

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: