Cubs

Word on the Street: Bears to win multiple playoff games?

Word on the Street: Bears to win multiple playoff games?

Monday, Nov. 15, 2010CSNChicago.com
Bears 'King' for a day

In this morning's Monday Morning Quarterback column, the Bears -- and Devin Hester in particular, being named his co-Special Team Player of the Week -- received some high praise from Peter King.

"Very wise use of the dangerous Hester made the Bears' win over Minnesota much easier. He scored on a 19-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, then returned a punt 42 yards and a kickoff 68 yards. All in all, if Hester can impact the game as a receiver AND kickpunt-returner, the Bears have a chance to win multiple playoff games." (SI.com)

Sox apologize; keep new uniforms anyway

The White Sox recent decision to update their grey road uniforms, replacing the black diamond encasing a white sock with the S-O-X logo, infuriated many Sox fans and bloggers. Despite the negative reaction, the Sox are still planning to go forward with the change. Vice President of marketing Brooks Boyer did, however, send an email to some bloggers apologizing for the change.

"We have talked quite a bit about the road greys for a few years after getting input from our players, staff and even some fans," said Boyer in the email. "After looking at the road greys, we determined that the uniform should contain our main logo... I know this is not a popular decision with you guys and I am sorry to disappoint. In the event any or all of you are at SoxFest, please find me if you would like to discuss further." (Business Insider)

McNabb agrees to five-year extension
Redskins QB, and former Mt. Carmel High School standout, Donovan McNabb agreed to a five-year, 78 million contract extension, just 15 days after being benched for the final two series of Washington's final two drives in Detroit against the Lions.

He was replaced in the Oct. 31 game by former Bears signal-caller Rex Grossman. (CSNWashington.com)

Wrigley gets face lift for big game

The much-anticipated Northwestern v. Illinois game at Wrigley Field is just over a week away, and in participation for the big game Wrigley has undergone a minor face lift. The goalposts are up, the field lines are painted and, now, so is the famous marquee. In one of the biggest changes to the stadium in anticipation of the special occasion, the famous Wrigley Field marquee was painted purple on Monday.

But the purple marquee wont be the only unique feature of the converted converted baseball field. The dimensions of the park are also uncharacteristically tight for a football game. So tight, in fact, that the east goalpost is actually fastened to the bricks of the right field bleacher wall. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Korver to undergo MRI on knee

Kyle Korver could potentially miss a few games due to a sore knee. It was reported that Korver will not travel with the team on the start of their yearly west coast road trip so he can get an MRI on the injured knee. It is not yet known how many - if any - games Korver will miss, but his loss could make things even more difficult for a team already struggling with an injury to another key offensive player, Carlos Boozer. (Bulls Confidential - Chicago Now)

Ricketts: No plan B

Cubs owner Tom Rickets told the Chicago Tribune on Monday that he doesn't have a 'Plan B' if the state doesn't approve his proposal to borrow the 200 million he says is needed to upgrade and upkeep Wrigley Field.

Ricketts claims the planned construction to the ballpark would create more than 1,000 construction jobs but not everyone is sold. The Chicago Sun-Times editoral board, as well as many callers to sports radio shows, have ripped the plan, questioning why the state should help finance a project for one of the most valuable franchises in professional sports. (ChicagoBreakingBusiness)

Posey wins NL ROY; Castro finishes 5th

The Baseball Writers' Association of America announced on Monday that San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey won the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year award. Posey hit .305 and drove in 67 runs in his rookie campaign while helping lead the Giants to their World Series victory.

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro finished 5th in the voting, tied with Pirates third baseman Neil Walker. Finishing in front of Castro were Posey, Jason Heyward, Jaime Garcia, and Gaby Sanchez. (Cubbies Crib)

Pierzynski to the Marlins?

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that there is mutual interest between A.J. Pierzynski and the Florida Marlins. Pierzynski's price tag may be too high for the small-market Marlins, but if they are successful in trading second baseman Dan Uggla, the money would become much less of an issue. Pierzynski, who lives in Florida, batted .270.300.388 with nine home runs in 2010. (Rotoworld)

Would trading Kyle Schwarber begin to solve pitching issues that run much deeper than Chris Bosio?

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USA TODAY

Would trading Kyle Schwarber begin to solve pitching issues that run much deeper than Chris Bosio?

The Cubs now apparently believe they are a stronger organization without Chris Bosio, firing a pitching coach known for his strong convictions, brutal honesty and bottom-line results in a move that doesn’t seem like an actual solution.

Hiring Jim Hickey – who has a good reputation from his years with the Tampa Bay Rays, a close friendship with Joe Maddon and what looks like a slam-dunk interview lined up for Monday – might make the manager feel more comfortable and less isolated.

But the new-voice/different-direction spin doesn’t fundamentally address the pitching issues facing a team that needs to replace 40 percent of the rotation and find an established closer and has zero expectations those answers will come from within the farm system.

This is an operation that won a seven-game World Series last year without a homegrown player throwing a single pitch.     

If the Cubs can say thanks for the memories and dump “Boz,” what about “Schwarbs?”

Advancing to the National League Championship Series in three straight seasons doesn’t happen without Bosio or Kyle Schwarber. But the fastest way for the Cubs to dramatically improve their pitching staff isn’t finding someone else who thinks it’s important to throw strikes. It could mean breaking up The Core and severing another emotional attachment.   

Theo Epstein saw Schwarber play for Indiana University and used the Fenway Park frame of reference, envisioning him as a combination of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia with his left-handed power and energizer personality.

Epstein wasn’t the only Cubs official to develop a man-crush on Schwarber, but he’s the only one with ultimate control over baseball operations. Epstein’s style isn’t pounding the table as much as the ability to frame questions in the draft room, gather as many opinions as possible before the trade deadline and at the winter meetings, trying to form a consensus.

“I will say that it’s really an organization-wide evaluation of this player, but I’m not skirting responsibility,” Epstein said. “I’ll happily endorse him as the type of player that we want to win with here at the Cubs, and have won with. I don’t know, the fact that he hit 30 bombs in a bad year is a good start.

“But power is not everything. I think he fell into this year becoming more of a slugger and less of a hitter than he really is. It’s important for him to get his identity back as a dangerous hitter. Honestly, I think we feel he has the potential to be an all-around hitter on the level of an Anthony Rizzo. When he reaches his prime, that’s what he could be.”

Where will that be? As a designated hitter in the American League? That’s obvious speculation, but Schwarber has improved as an outfield defender – his strong throw at Dodger Stadium led to another NLCS Maddon Moment where the manager compared the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax.      

A 43-45 record at the All-Star break also exposed some of the weaknesses in the clubhouse and downsides to Maddon’s methods. The Cubs flipped a switch in the second half, got hot in September and had the guts to beat the Washington Nationals in the playoffs. But that doesn’t completely wipe away the concerns about a group that at times seemed too casual and unfocused and didn’t play with enough edge. For better or worse, Schwarber approaches the game like a blitzing linebacker.

“He’s got a certain toughness and certain leadership qualities that are hard to find,” Epstein said, “and that we don’t necessarily have in surplus, in abundance, running around in this clubhouse, in this organization.

“A certain energy and grit and ability to bring people together – that’s important and we rely on it. But the biggest thing is his bat. We think he’s the type of offensive player that you build around, along with a couple other guys like him.”

Maddon would never admit it, but was the Schwarber leadoff experiment a mistake?

“I’ll judge that one based on the results and say yeah,” Epstein said. “I think we can talk about the process that went into it. Or in an alternate universe: Does it pan out? But those are just words. It didn’t work.

“Everything that went into Kyle’s really surprising and difficult first half of the season, we should look to correct, because that shouldn’t happen. He’s a way better hitter than that. What he did after coming back from Iowa proves it.”

In the same way that Maddon should own what happens with the next pitching coach, Epstein will ultimately have to decide Schwarber’s future.

Schwarber didn’t complain or pout when he got sent down to Triple-A Iowa this summer, finishing with 30 homers, a .782 OPS, a .211 batting average and a 30.9 strikeout percentage.    

Trading Schwarber would mean selling lower and take another team having the same gut instincts the Cubs did in the 2014 draft – and offering the talented, controllable starting pitcher that sometimes seems like a unicorn.

Is Schwarber still the legend from last year’s World Series? An all-or-nothing platoon guy? An intriguing trade chip? A franchise player? Eventually, the Cubs are going to find out.

“We have to look to do everything we can,” Epstein said, “and more importantly he has to look to do everything he can to get him to a point where he’s consistently the quality hitter and tough out and dangerous bat in the middle of the lineup that we know he can be.

“He wasn’t for the first half of this year – and he knows it and he feels awful about it. He worked his tail off to get back to having a pretty darn good second half and getting some big hits for us down the stretch.”

And then the offseason was only hours old by the time the Cubs showed they will be keeping an open mind about everything this winter, not afraid to make big changes.

Jake Arrieta shaved his beard again and he keeps looking younger

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USA TODAY

Jake Arrieta shaved his beard again and he keeps looking younger

It's become a tradition that Jake Arrieta shaves his beard after the season ends.

The 31-year-old did it again days after the Cubs were eliminated from the 2017 postseason, and it's still a sight we'll never be used to seeing.

Check it out:

Weird, right?

Here's how he looked following the Cubs' World Series win in 2016:

And again in 2015:

It's crazy how much younger he looks.