Bears

Yankees trade for another future Hall of Famer

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Yankees trade for another future Hall of Famer

From Comcast SportsNet
SEATTLE (AP) -- Around the All-Star break, Ichiro Suzuki made the difficult decision that it was time to move on from the Seattle Mariners. In a surprise trade Monday, he got his wish. Going from worst to first, Suzuki joined the New York Yankees in a deal that sent two marginal young pitchers to Seattle. "I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the most wins," he said. "It's hard to contain my excitement for that reason." Wearing a pinstriped suit, Suzuki joined his new teammates in the visitor clubhouse at Safeco Field and, several hours after the trade, was cheered by Mariners fans when he took his position in right field -- in place of the injured Nick Swisher. In the third inning, he was given a standing ovation before his first at-bat against the only team he played for in 11 major league seasons. Suzuki tipped his batting helmet and bowed twice to the more than 29,000 in attendance. The 38-year-old Suzuki slapped a single to center field then stole second base. He went 1 for 4 in his Yankees debut and caught the final out. "I was worried about my first at-bat," Suzuki said after the Yankees' 4-1 victory. "I was really relieved with the standing ovation. It was a special day today." The Yankees also got cash in the deal that sent 25-year-old righties D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the last-place Mariners. The Yankees made the trade a few days after learning that speedy outfielder Brett Gardner would likely miss the rest of the season because of an elbow problem, and manager Joe Girardi said Suzuki will mostly play left field. "We're very excited with the caliber of player we are getting. We feel that he brings the speed element. He's a tremendous hitter. That speed element is what we lost when Gardy had surgery," Girardi said. "So this is a big day for us." Suzuki was given No. 31 because the number he wore his entire career with the Mariners, No. 51, has not been worn since four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams last played. "No. 51 is a special number to me, but when I think about what 51 means to the Yankees, it's hard for me to ask for that number." Mitchell made his major league debut this season and pitched four games for the Yankees. Farquhar made his big league debut last year with Toronto and was claimed last month on waivers by the Yankees from Oakland. Suzuki had spent his whole big league career with Seattle. The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner is batting .261 with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases this year. Suzuki is a career .322 hitter, a former AL MVP and holds the record for most hits in a season. He had batted over .300 in every season until dipping last year. The only thing missing on Suzuki's resume is an appearance in the World Series, and he may get a chance with the Yankees. Suzuki was the AL MVP and rookie of the year in 2001 after a stellar career in Japan, and the Mariners reached the AL championship series that season before losing to the Yankees. Seattle has not been back to the playoffs since then. He said he hasn't played in left field since those 2001 playoffs. In the final year of a five-year contract that's paying him 18 million this season, Suzuki's return to a young Seattle team next year was not assured. Suzuki put an end to any speculation about what would happen in the offseason when he approached management around the All-Star break and asked to be traded. "Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his long time agent, Tony Attanasio, approached (team president) Chuck Armstrong and me to ask that the Mariners consider trading him," said Howard Lincoln, the team's CEO. "Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop." The Yankees certainly hope this trade with the Mariners works out better than the previous big deal between the teams. New York sent prized young catcher Jesus Montero to Seattle before the season for All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda, who was later injured and is out for the year. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has long admired Suzuki, saying, "he's been consistent throughout his career." "They're been a lot of guys that have come here over the years, starting my first year with Cecil Fielder," he added. "It's been unexpected, sort of out of the blue. That's why you don't ever listen to rumors. Getting someone like this is unbelievable." Said Suzuki about playing with Jeter: "I noticed that he's not only a guy who has performed for a long time but consistently performed for a long time. And for a team that has the highest expectations of demand to win. To do what he has done there makes me see that he's exceptional, not just potential wise as a talent but also as a human being." Suzuki, usually stoic on and off the field, became emotional at times during the news conference, especially when talking about his admiration for the Mariners fans. "When I think about this long period, it is difficult to express precisely my feeling," Suzuki said of his time in Seattle. "When I imagined taking off a Seattle Mariners uniform, I was overcome with sadness. That made it a very difficult decision to make."

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?