White Sox

Bears' key to win vs. Texans

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Bears' key to win vs. Texans

The Texans may be currently ranked at No. 8 in the NFL in rushing, averaging 138 yards per game, but it's important to remember that three of the teams ranked ahead of Houston -- or even the Bears who currently sit at No. 11 -- have played nine games instead of eight. Teams like Washington, Seattle and Minnesota will move down the list, simply for the number of games played once the Bears face off against the Texans tonight.

One of the biggest keys to victory for the Bears is to shut down running back Arian Foster and the Texans' zone blocking scheme, which is where offensive lineman fire-off the line of scrimmage in blocking an area.

The zone blocking scheme is well choreographed where all movements called in a certain direction are the same. The offense wants their opponent's defensive line and linebackers working horizontally, which disrupts defensive gap responsibilities allowing for two-way reads for the running back to stay front-side or utilize cut back lanes due to gap vulnerability.

How to defeat zone blocking schemes

Penetration by the Bears' defensive line working north and south -- not east and west -- will be the key. As I mentioned, the Texans want to work the front defensive seven laterally, which horizontally stretches the defense leading to breakdowns and big holes to run through. The Bears must combat this with defensive line penetration into the backfield. Defensive tackles Henry Melton and Stephen Paea cannot be on roller skates working sideways, they must get up field destroying any two-way read by Foster. By penetrating up field, the Bears will dictate where Fosters only day light will be, which will be waiting with defenders ready to make the tackle.

If the Bears stop the run game, they will essentially stop the Houston Texan deadly play action game as well. A powerful base offense will have been effectively neutralized and brought to a crawl by simply accomplishing one key element: penetration.

White Sox reportedly trying to trade Avisail Garcia

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USA TODAY

White Sox reportedly trying to trade Avisail Garcia

Is the Avisail Garcia Era about to come to an end on the South Side?

According to a report from MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, the White Sox are trying to trade Garcia away. Feinsand added that there's a belief the White Sox could even non-tender Garcia in the absence of a trade.

Garcia came to the White Sox in the three-team Jake Peavy trade at the 2013 deadline. Yes, Garcia's been with the White Sox for more than half a decade. He didn't break out until 2017, though, batting just .257 in his first three and a half seasons with the White Sox. Then came the All-Star campaign of 2017, when he hit .330 and reached base at a .380 clip, ranking among the league leaders in both categories.

Last season, though, Garcia was hampered by a knee injury that bothered him from Opening Day on, with his hamstring sending him to the disabled list on more than one occasion. He slashed just .236/.281/.438 in 93 games, though he did set a new career high with 19 home runs.

The injuries made it very difficult to forecast what Garcia's long-term future with the White Sox might be, preventing him from being able to prove he could repeat those All-Star numbers. With one year of team control remaining, the White Sox have options. They could try to deal him this winter, as is being reported, or they could try to trade him during the season.

General manager had this to say about Garcia at last week's GM Meetings:

"We've been talking about Avi for a long time now, and I think we know him as well as anybody about what he's capable of doing when he's fully healthy, as well as some of the challenges created by the health issues for him," Hahn said. "With one year currently left of control, we're having conversations right now about how best to proceed."

With the White Sox expected to bring top prospect Eloy Jimenez, who played mostly left field in 2018, up from the minors early next season and their reported interest in free-agent right fielder Bryce Harper, there could be a desire to open up corner-outfield spots for more productive offensive players.

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Daniel Palka got one third-place vote for AL Rookie of the Year, but will White Sox have the 2019 winner?

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USA TODAY

Daniel Palka got one third-place vote for AL Rookie of the Year, but will White Sox have the 2019 winner?

Somebody out there with an AL Rookie of the Year vote believed Daniel Palka to be the third-best first-year player in the Junior Circuit.

Palka finished tied for fifth in the vote, the results of which were announced Monday evening. Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani won the award, with second and third place going to a pair of New York Yankees infielders in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, respectively. Tampa Bay Rays infielder Joey Wendle finished fourth, ahead of Palka, who tied with another Ray, relief pitcher Ryan Yarbrough.

Palka launched 27 home runs on the season, breaking out after he wasn't even on the Opening Day roster. He was picked up off waivers from the Minnesota Twins last winter and ended up one of the White Sox better offensive players in 2018.

Palka will be the first to admit he's not a finished product and has plenty to work on. He finished with just a .240 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. But those power numbers were enough to make him the first White Sock with a Rookie of the Year vote since Tim Anderson's seventh-place finish in 2016. Palka's fifth-place finish is the highest by a South Sider since Jose Abreu was the unanimous winner of the award back in 2014.

That could all change in just a year's time, when Eloy Jimenez could be a top candidate for the 2019 edition of the award. Jimenez is currently ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball and figures to reach the big leagues early next season. He put up big numbers in the minors in 2018: a .337/.384/.577 slash line with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 108 games between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte.

In fact, the only reason he wouldn't be the favorite heading into 2019 is the guy ranked two spots ahead of him on the prospect list, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He was ridiculous last season, putting up a minor league slash line of .381/.437/.636 in 95 games. He figures to be a Toronto Blue Jay — and Jimenez's main competition for Rookie of the Year honors — in 2019.

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