White Sox

After Davis, NBA Draft has aura of uncertainty

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After Davis, NBA Draft has aura of uncertainty

If this is such a deep NBA Draft, as its been described by several observers, then why are so many teams seemingly anxious to trade their picks? Thats the question heading into Thursdays proceedings, as speculation abounds that, from the Bobcats No. 2 overall selection through the remainder of the first round, theres the potential for multiple transactions on the evening.

From lottery teams that prefer veteran help to the promise of a rookie to contenders desiring an injection of youth -- and organizations in between, trying to stockpile assets for a bigger move when free agency officially begins next week -- it appears that league commissioner David Stern might have to duplicate his trademark, There has been a trade routine frequently at Newarks Prudential Center. While the likes of Kentuckys Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Floridas Bradley Beal, North Carolinas Harrison Barnes and Kansas Thomas Robinson all have obvious strengths that should translate well to the next level, the only prospect regarded as a franchise-changing player is Chicago native Anthony Davis, the drafts lone lock as the top pick to the Hornets.

Therefore, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder approach is more prevalent than ever, with late entrants into the drafts upper echelon -- such as Syracuse guard Dion Waiters, who shut down his workouts early, but is nonetheless rising on the board, to the point that Cleveland, picking fourth, is rumored to be considering him, if they dont trade up to second -- sparking chatter and prospects who were considered near-elite just a month ago now having only a general, wide-ranging idea of where they might be selected, while standout veterans could also be jettisoned. For a team thats zeroed in a target, their legwork could be an exercise in futility, since whats happening above them, be it trades or a surprise choice, is almost guaranteed to be unpredictable.

One consensus has been reached: 2012 will yield a crop of NBA rookies with tremendous upside and at its floor, produce a number of solid contributors destined to be in somebodys rotation sooner than later. But whether the best bet is a proven, if unspectacular four-year senior like North Carolinas Tyler Zeller, a definite project with immense physical tools like Connecticuts Andre Drummond, an enigmatic type possessing off-the-charts talent like Baylors Perry Jones, an athletic one-year wonder without a winning track record like St. Johns Moe Harkless, a productive college superstar whose stock is plummeting because of an injury risk like Ohio States Jared Sullinger or a dominant small-school player who grades out as the best at his position like Weber States Damien Lillard remains to be seen.

In the aftermath of the draft, teams will likely be judged by what assets of value were acquired in trades, cap space that was freed up and what was stockpiled for future use in free agency just as much, if not more than, an evaluation of the actual talent that was drafted, partly a consequence of a more restrictive new CBA. At least for the time being, while it will still be counted as a coup to unearth a value-pick sleeper that can contribute on the floor immediately, a solid draft for league executives can also consist of waking up Friday morning with more financial flexibility, trade-able parts and a free agent-friendly destination, even if those things dont excite the local fans or directly impact winning.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.