Cubs

Blackhawks breakdown: Andrew Brunette

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Blackhawks breakdown: Andrew Brunette

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGLhost Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on theHawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.In his 16th NHL season, Andrew Brunette played in 78games and averaged 13 minutes and 33 seconds per game. He scored 12 goals (fouron the power play) with 15 assists (three on the power play) for 27 points andfinished minus-13. He was credited with 21 hits and four penalty minutes. Inthe series vs. Phoenix, Brunette scored one goal (in Game 3), has no assistsand finished minus-3.Boden's take: The team was almost unbeatable when hefound the scoresheet (25-2). Problem was, he couldn't find it often enough inthe least-productive full season of his career. The times his soft hands paidoff around the net couldn't make up for hs lack of speed that really left himlooking like a square peg in a round hole on this team for much of theseason.Maybe his lack of a defined role -- or line -- affected hiseffectiveness. The 38-year-old has been a definition of durability throughout hiscareer, and he played through a painful foot injury in the playoffs.Myers' take: The veteran wing has a great set of handsand that was beneficial around the net. That made him a decent option for apower play that needed someone who was willing to be a net presence. ButBrunettes lack of speed meant he had a tough time keeping up with his swifterteammates. He started on top lines and had a few later games there. He was partof that troika with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane that got hot late in the season.But he spent more time getting juggled up and down the forward lines, nevertruly finding a niche anywhere. The constant changing showed in his stats: his27 points were his fewest since 1998-99 (31 with the Nashville Predators).2012-13 ExpectationsChris: Brunette already indicated the team won't have himback next season, and he had to decide whether this would be a disappointingend to an otherwise productive NHL career that dates back 16 seasons.Tracey: Brunette basically said hes not planning onbeing back with the Blackhawks next season. Sounds like he was told as much,anyway. But right now its uncertain whether hell even play anywhere nextseason. The 38-year-old said he needed to think about whether he wanted to playanother NHL season after wrapping up his 16th. If this was it, Brunette had apretty solid career on which to look back.How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sureto chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out some ofBrunette's highlights above.Previously: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, SteveMontador, Sean O'Donnell, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp, DanielCarcilloUp next: Marcus Kruger

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

The day after Kris Bryant suggested that first-time fatherhood and the dramatic reality of world events have changed how he looks at his future with the Cubs, general manager Jed Hoyer outlined why it might be all but moot.

Setting aside the fact that the Cubs aren’t focusing on contract extensions with anyone at this time of health and economic turmoil, the volatility and unpredictability of a raging COVID-19 pandemic in this country and its economic fallout have thrown even mid-range and long-term roster plans into chaos.

“This is without question the most difficult time we’ve ever had as far as projecting those things,” Hoyer said. “All season in projecting this year, you weren’t sure how many games we were going to get in. Projecting next season obviously has challenges, and who knows where the country’s going to be and the economy’s going to be.”

Bryant, a three-time All-Star and former MVP, is eligible for free agency after next season. He and the club have not engaged in extension talks for three years. And those gained little traction while it has looked increasingly likely since then that Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, would eventually take his star client to market — making Bryant a widely circulated name in trade talks all winter.

MORE: Scott Boras: Why Kris Bryant's free agency won't be impacted by economic crisis

The Cubs instead focused last winter on talks with All-Star shortstop Javy Báez, making “good” or little progress depending on which side you talked to on a given day — until the pandemic shut down everything in March.

Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are both also eligible for free agency after next season, with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras right behind them a year later.

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None has a multiyear contract, and exactly what the Cubs are willing to do about that even if MLB pulls off its 60-game plan this year is hard for even the team’s front office executives to know without knowing how hard the pandemic will continue to hammer America’s health and financial well-being into the winter and next year.

Even with a vaccine and treatments by then, what will job markets look like? The economy at large? The economy of sports? Will anyone want to gather with 40,000 others in a stadium to watch a game anytime soon?

And even if anyone could answer all those questions, who can be sure how the domino effect will impact salary markets for athletes?

“There’s no doubt that forecasting going forward is now much more challenging from a financial standpoint,” Hoyer said. “But that’s league-wide. Anyone that says they have a feel for where the nation’s economy and where the pandemic is come next April is lying.”

The Cubs front office already was in a tenuous place financially, its payroll budget stretched past its limit and a threat to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold for a second consecutive season.

And after a quick playoff exit in 2018 followed by the disappointment of missing the playoffs in 2019, every player on the roster was in play for a possible trade over the winter — and even more so at this season’s trade deadline without a strong start to the season.

Now what?

For starters, forget about dumping short-term assets or big contracts for anything of value from somebody’s farm system. Even if baseball can get to this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline with a league intact and playing, nobody is predicting more than small level trades at that point — certainly not anything close to a blockbuster.

After that, it may not get any clearer for the sport in general, much less the Cubs with their roster and contract dilemmas.

“We have a lot of conversations about it internally, both within the baseball side and then with the business side as well,” Hoyer said. “But it’s going to take a long time and probably some sort of macro things happening for us to really have a good feel for where we’re going to be in ’21 and beyond.”

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Cubs GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Veteran umpire Joe West made waves Tuesday downplaying the severity of COVID-19 in an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus," West said. "I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

As far as the Cubs are concerned, those comments don’t represent how to treat the virus. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure everyone treats it with equal severity.

“That’s one of the things we've really tried internally to instill in our players and our coaches,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, “[that] everyone here has to take it equally [serious].”

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Hoyer noted like the world, MLB isn’t immune to people having different viewpoints on the virus — those who show concern and those who don’t. This echoes comments made by manager David Ross earlier on Tuesday, and Hoyer said those he’s talked to with the Cubs don’t feel the same way as West.

The Cubs had an up close and personal look at pitching coach Tommy Hottovy’s battle with COVID-19 during baseball’s shutdown. It took the 38-year-old former big leaguer 30 harrowing days to test negative, and in the past week many Cubs have said watching him go through that hit home. 

“When you get a 38-year-old guy in wonderful health and he talks about his challenges with it,” Hoyer said, “I think that it takes away some of those different viewpoints.”

To ensure everyone stays safe and puts the league in the best position to complete a season, MLB needs strict adherence to its protocols.

“I think that's one of our goals and one of the things that we feel is vital is that we have to make sure everyone views this the same way, because we can't have a subset of people within our group that don't view it with the same severity,” Hoyer said.

“That’s not gonna work. We're not gonna be successful."

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