Bears

Sox Drawer: Easy as Juan-2-3

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Sox Drawer: Easy as Juan-2-3

Tuesday, December 15

Juan Pierre steals bases.

Kenny Williams steals leadoff hitters.

Thats the kind of thievery we saw today with the White Sox, who in a market (and in a league) where there are very few pure tablesetters, Williams found a guy who comes to the Southside with a full set of silverware.

Juan is certainly someone who fits the bill, Williams said. I love his work ethic. I love his intensity. He adds a lot to the club other than what he does on the field. And what he does on the field is pretty special.

The speedy outfielder had been on the Sox radar for the last 3 years. In fact, Williams did all he could to pry him away from the Dodgers while Pierre was in LA. I probably irritated (Dodgers GM) Ned (Colletti) more than once or twice, Williams said.

Heres why:

Pierre can run. He can hit. He can bunt, and he can chase down any fly ball in the 312 area code.

Trademark Ozzie Ball.

Yes, Pierre doesnt have the greatest arm in the world. But neither did Scott Podsednik, whose negotiations with the White Sox never got close, and who could ironically become the next leadoff hitter for...the Cubs.

Hows that for irony.

Speaking of the Cubs, Jim Hendry paid dearly for Pierre back in 2005, when he dealt Ricky Nolasco, Sergio Mitre, and Renyel Pinto to Florida for Pierre, who was set to be a free agent the following season.

Hendry felt the Cubs could re-sign him. Whoops. Didnt happen. Pierre inked a 5-year, 44 million contract with the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Nolasco has won 28 games the last 2 years with the Marlins. Pinto is a solid arm out of the Marlins bullpen. Mitre is now a Yankee.

As for Pierre, the Sox picked him up at the local discount store. Not a store most of us will ever be able to shop at, but baseball-speaking...what a bargain.

The Sox are on the hook for just 3 million of Pierres 10 million salary for 2010. The Dodgers are paying the remaining 7 million. In 2011, hell be on the Sox books for 5.5 million, with the Dodgers still paying 3.5 million.

The Sox gave up a couple of minor league pitchers in the deal, reportedly Jon Link and John Ely, who happened to play at my alma-mater, Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Anytime I get the chance to mention the Vikings, I will. Cant help it.

Link and Ely might turn out to be the next Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. But they could also be the next Royce Ring and Brandon McCarthy.

You just never know.

Thats why Id make this deal every day of the week.

It didnt work out so well for Hendry and the Cubs. Things should be different with the Sox. First, they get him for two years instead of one. And they get a Juan Pierre who is hungry, and like Andruw Jones, is looking to prove his doubters (like the Dodgers) wrong.

See a pattern developing here?

I dont hit for power, I dont have an arm, said Pierre, talking about the fan reaction in LA. Ive been criticized so much these last 3 years Im prepared for the Chicago media again thats for sure.

Hell also be extremely fresh for a 32-year-old who relies on his legs. Pierre got bumped from a crowded outfield with the Dodgers, losing playing time to Matt Kemp, Andre Either, and Manny Ramirez.

Ive been in the Witness Protection Program the last few years, Pierre said.

He was lost. Now hes found. And reunited with his old 3rd base coach Ozzie Guillen. Both of them were on the winning side of the Steve Bartman game in 2003 with the Marlins, and later got a ring.

When I asked Guillen the one thing he wanted last week at the winter meetings, he replied, A leadoff hitter.

Hes got one now, and he cant believe its Pierre.

I think Kenny did a miracle, Guillen said. I dont know how he did it.

Thievery.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Joe Maddon has no easy decisions.

With the way his tattered bullpen has pitched this postseason, there's a very real possibility that any guy he calls on to pitch is the "wrong" guy or the right guy in the "wrong" spot.

For everybody wanting Maddon to ride Wade Davis as a workhorse this fall — something the Cubs skipper has already done just to get to this NLCS — remember how much flak he took for overusing Aroldis Chapman a year ago at this time.

Davis also hasn't been superhuman this postseason, allowing a pair of runs (including a homer) and seven baserunners in 4.1 playoff innings, good for a 4.15 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.

So when Maddon sat in the dugout late Sunday evening watching helplessly as John Lackey served up a walk-off homer to Tormund Giantsbane Justin Turner, the "Madd Scientist" immediately found himself in the crosshairs of Cubs fans and the media.

The first question he fielded in his postgame press conference was about not using Davis and there were several follow-ups. That and the offensive futility is about all anybody wanted to talk about after the Cubs fell down 0-2 in the NLCS.

Maddon explained Davis was available only in a save situation due to workload issues — the Cubs closer was in uncharted territory Thursday night/Friday morning, throwing the most pitches (44) and innings (2.1) he's thrown since Aug. 24, 2013 when he was still working as a starter. That's a span of 1,511 days.

"Wade knew that going into the game, it was going to be with the say," Maddon said. "We caught the lead, he's in the game. So whatever the narrative was, it's really a false narrative. He was not coming into that game until we grabbed the lead. He was not going to pitch more than three outs. That's it."

How does Maddon respond to his second-guessers?

"Doesn't matter," Maddon said. "First of all, social media, the moment I start worrying about that, I really need to retire. Second of all, that was all predetermined [Sunday] night again."

Davis also has a recent history of arm troubles (he was on the disabled list twice in 2016 for a forearm issue) and also saw his workload jump in September just to help the Cubs get to the postseason. In the final month of the regular season, Davis threw 237 pitches, 42 more than he threw in any other month of 2017. The last time he topped 200 pitches in any month was May 2015.

TV cameras showed Davis throwing in the Cubs bullpen alongside Lackey at one point in the ninth inning, leading to surprise by a huge faction of the (*looks around and whispers*) social media fanbase when the game broadcast resumed after commercials and the pitching change was to bring Lackey — not Davis — into the game.

"Wade was not warming up to come in that game," Maddon said. "Wade was probably just testing his arm at that point. We had talked about it before the game — up and in. 

"For those that aren't involved in Major League Baseball and professional baseball in general, when a guy's throwing too much, it's very important to not dry hump him, as the saying goes. Get him up and put him back down and bring him back in later. So I wasn't going to do that."

(Wow, really was not expecting to hear or write the phrase "dry hump" regarding this story.)

Maddon insists health is not the problem with Davis.

"Yes [he's healthy]. Oh yeah," Maddon said. "Listen, this guy just did yeoman kind of work — I love that word — in Washington and was not prepared to go more than three outs. I don't understand why that's difficult to understand.

"And furthermore, you have to also understand it wasn't the last game of the year or the second to last game. It was about winning eight more games. All these things are factors."

Maddon has a point. This isn't a Buck Showalter case where the Baltimore Orioles manager failed to use his best reliever — Zach Britton — in a non-save situation in a winner-take-all American League wild card game because he wanted the closer to be ready for a save.

The Cubs went down in a game that was tied 1-1 with their best reliever failing to get in the game even though he hadn't pitched in the last two days. 

But Davis can't cover every inning in relief, especially when the Cubs' two starters (Jose Quintana and Jon Lester) lasted just 9.2 innings against the Dodgers, leaving the Cubs bullpen to account for the other 8+ innings somehow.

The rest of the Cubs bullpen has to step up, too, which they did before the ninth inning of Game 2.

Still, Maddon couldn't resist getting one more defensive shot in before putting the matter to bed:

"I really hope you all understand that social media doesn't count at all," he said. "Twitter doesn't count at all. And really, as sportswriters, you should do a better job than relying on Twitter to write a story, quite frankly."

Well then.