Cubs

No time to talk Cutler's contract

960271.png

No time to talk Cutler's contract

It's really not an appropriate time to be talking about hometown-discount contracts if you're Jay Cutler.

It all sounds upbeat coming from Cutler, who appeared on WMVP last week saying, "I'm not going to try to break the bank," when discussing a future signing, but his future with the Bears is very uncertain. It becomes even more uncertain if he continues to get injured on avoidable hits and cannot remain on the field throughout the duration of a game.

The Bears' quarterback has dispelled any stupidity from the media peanut gallery or fellow NFL brethren that he is not a tough quarterback. The 2010 NFC title game got the ball rolling about Cutler "packing it in" when he suffered an MCL sprain. He was unable to finish the game due to the significant injury, but was broadcasted standing on the sideline watching his Super Bowl dreams go down the drain.

Now over 100 sustained sacks later and numerous his accumulated, it's not just a knee that has affected Cutler. He's since suffered a broken handthumb, bruised ribs, a well-documented concussion history and now a neck injury from this past weekend against Minnesota, which forced him to leave the game.

Head injuries, in my opinion, are the new kiss of death on NFL careers. Organizations have already adjusted by completely removing players from their draft boards who have sustained significant documented head trauma coming out of college.

Cutler is a fantastic player who will soon turn 30 years old and coming into the prime of his NFL career. But in reality, why would the Bears pay Cutler a huge bonus and contract when he has one year currently remaining at 8.47 million if he can't stay on the field?

Ownership is not stupid in the NFL. There are quarterbacks who have been drafted under the new collective bargaining agreement who are winning and come at a much cheaper price than a new 100 million contract that Cutler certainly could command.

Here are a few examples: Andrew Luck (first round, Indianapolis), Robert Griffin III (first round, Washington), Andy Dalton (second round, Cincinnati), Colin Kaepernick (second round, San Francisco) and Russell Wilson (third round, Seattle).

Under the new CBA, these quarterbacks can't even renegotiate before the end of their third season.

For example, Cam Newton was the first quarterback to sign under the new CBA. He was the first overall selection of the 2011 draft whose contract was inked, a 4-year, 22 million deal. Newton cannot even approach the Panthers to renegotiate until the end of 2013.

The Bears are not in any rush to secure a new contract with Cutler. There is plenty for him to prove the rest of the season and next before any offers are on the table. Unfortunately for Cutler, his health status has now become a question mark. His injury file continues to grow, which is never a good thing especially when documented concussions are on it.

Cutler has shown his play can be tremendous when he's on the field. Whether the Bears could have beaten Minnesota if Cutler remained in the game is left to the imagination. After all, he brought them back a week ago against Seattle to force overtime with one throw.

But costly throws -- like the one to Vikings' safety Harrison Smith that was returned for a touchdown -- leave room for Bears' management to take a collective pause along with the growing injury history.

Sure, the Bears may still want Jay at the end of 2013, and it may be for the hometown discount, but it may also be for all the wrong reasons Cutler envisioned. It's going to be interesting how this plays out if the injuries continue to mount.

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

10-17_wade_davis_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

Is Cubs manager Joe Maddon taking the heat and covering for Wade Davis while the All-Star closer deals with atypical soreness in his right arm?

“No, no,” Maddon said Tuesday when asked if Davis felt anything unusual that lingered into the National League Championship Series after last week’s all-out effort eliminated the Washington Nationals from the divisional round.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven bullpen battle without Davis throwing a single pitch, the backlash from Cubs fans, Twitter and the national media again putting Maddon on the defensive, the year after he got second-guessed for pushing Aroldis Chapman so hard during the World Series.

This NLCS truly is a bizarro world, with Maddon comparing the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax, getting so little benefit of the doubt – the Cubs really did beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 – and working the baseball term “dry-hump” into one answer during Monday’s Wrigley Field press conference.

Maddon said he would have to check first with Davis – who would have almost five full days in between relief appearances – if the Cubs need a four- or five-out save in Game 3.

“Nevertheless, I always check,” Maddon said. “I can’t just assume that.”

Maddon’s Game 2 calculus on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium – sticking with lefty reliever Brian Duensing in a 1-1 game to start the ninth inning and then bringing in John Lackey to serve up the walk-off, three-run homer to Justin Turner – made you wonder if Davis was still dragging after ending Washington’s season and traveling on the overnight cross-country flight that got diverted to New Mexico for about five hours when Jose Quintana’s wife experienced a panic attack.

“I think he just got mentally exhausted,” Maddon said. “Physically, 44 pitches, he hasn’t done that in a while. But also the seven outs and what it meant and the plane ride itself, sitting on the tarmac, there was a lot of non-rest going on right there, so it was harder to recover.

“So, no, he was fine for the last game, but we set up the parameters before the game.”

Maddon is sticking with his story, that he would only deploy Davis in a save situation and not use him for one out against Turner (1.115 career postseason OPS) or have him totally warm up without the guarantee of getting him into the game.

“To put Wade in that position would be wrong on my part,” Maddon said. “We had already talked about the circumstances, so my loyalty there lies with Wade, or my decision-making lies with Wade, nobody else.

“That was a heavy day for him (in Washington). Going into the last game in L.A., like I talked about, we talked about one inning only, and not to get up and not put him in the game.

“If you get him up and sit him down, then you have no idea what it’s going to look like. My responsibility is to him, also, and to the players, so I told him that before the game, so I had to stick with our decision.”

Before finalizing the Jorge Soler trade at the winter meetings, the Kansas City Royals took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to meet with Davis at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley and go through a physical exam. The Cubs wanted reassurances after Davis spent parts of last season on the disabled list with a forearm strain and a flexor strain.

The Cubs wondered if “dry-humping” had contributed to those injuries, and tried to stay conservative with Davis during his free-agent year, watching him convert his first 32 save chances and using him for three-plus outs only three times during the regular season, all in mid-to-late September.

“If you look at the numbers this year, I thought going into the playoffs his usage has been really good,” Maddon said. “Minimal, in a sense. We didn’t get him up hardly at all where we didn’t utilize him.

“He just wasn’t set up for it the other day. So honestly, I think he’s in really good shape right now, actually. I don’t think he could have gone those seven outs the other day if he had been overly dried up during the course of the season. He felt good. But that was above and beyond, and that wasn’t part of the game plan the other night.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

zobrist.jpg

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

Sports Talk Live is on location at the Brickhouse Tavern at Wrigley Field to get you set for Game 3 of the NLCS. David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Jesse Rogers (ESPNChicago.com) and Bob Nightengale (USA Today) join Kap on the panel. 

Plus, Ben Zobrist and Curtis Granderson drop by to talk about the big matchup.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: