Cubs

Blackhawks breakdown: Dylan Olsen

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Blackhawks breakdown: Dylan Olsen

CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

When the Blackhawks defensive corps was ravaged by injuries when the calendar turned to 2012, they gave 21-year-old Dylan Olsen his first shot at NHL hockey when he made his debut on Jan. 5 in Philadelphia. He would go on to average just over 13 minutes of ice time in 28 games. Olsen is still in search of his first goal, and finished with one assist and a minus-5 rating. He was credited with 43 hits and 23 blocked shots. Olsen only played in one playoff game -- the Game 3 overtime loss -- and logged less than five minutes of ice time.

Boden's take: Olsen at 6-foot-2, 214 pounds might have the size the Hawks so sorely need to add to Brent Seabrook on the blue line, but does he have the experience? The answer is no, but if Stan Bowman does indeed want to shop around for another big body for the back and cant find one, Olsen would seem to be Plan B. If that's the case, theyd need him to gradually develop and blossom over the course of next season, when the former 28th overall pick of the 2009 draft turns 22. Joel Quenneville liked what he offered when he was given a chance during his stint late in the regular season, but wasnt quite confident enough to use him in any more than one playoff game. Olsens game has definitely grown over the past year, the question is whether its enough to make a consistent impression.

Myers' take: The Blackhawks had a lot of defensemen depth ahead of Olsen last season, so he didnt get a chance until the second half. That, and he was dealing with a lower-body injury at the start of camp, which also put him behind. When he did get the call-up, Olsen was decent in his 28 games with the Blackhawks, having the on-and-off outings befitting of a rookie. Still, it was no surprise when Olsen sat for all but one playoff game. He was still too young and too green to be thrown into the postseason.
2012-13 Expectations
Boden: Olsen made huge strides last offseason and hung around through camp before being sent to Rockford just as the regular season began. Is he capable of taking a comparable step this summer? Those strides were physical, now it's a matter of finding a positive consistency in his game to push Montador and Hjalmarsson. The guy has got a booming slapshot which he doesn't use enough. If there's an area of his game that he could be focusing on, that might be it. The Hawks could certainly use a big, reliable shot on the power play, but he has to get in that mindset and comfort zone first. There's bang-for-their-buck potential there with Olsen, as he has two years and 1.75 million remaining on his original deal before being eligible for restricted free agency.

Myers: Considering the money the Blackhawks have already thrown toward defensemen, including Johnny Oduyas new contract, you would have to wonder how many internal guys will get a shot at the lineup next season. That should include Olsen, who has decent size on a defense that doesnt have much of it. Olsen went through a grueling offseason training program last summer and it would benefit him to do the same entering this training camp. If he can come in healthy, he could find a spot here out of camp.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Olsen above.

Up next: Dave Bolland

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures of rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a measly seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Bears QB Big Board, 6.0: It's Mitch Trubisky's job to lose

Just when it appeared like Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was entering his final half-season as the team's unquestioned starting quarterback, the last month happened.

Trubisky's play has steadily improved over the last five games and reached what may have been his watermark moment in Week 14 against the Cowboys. He completed 74% of his passes for 244 yards and three passing touchdowns while adding a season-high 63 rushing yards and a score on the ground. It marked the second week in a row that Trubisky's completed over 74% of his passes; he connected on 76% of his throws a week earlier against the Lions.

Trubisky's recent success is a far cry from the mentally broken player he was after the first month of the season. He has his confidence back. In fact, he's playing with more confidence than he's ever shown as a pro. His recent success is a direct and obvious result of his evolution between the ears.

The Bears were circled as a team that was likely to be in the quarterback market this offseason because of how terrible Trubisky looked early in 2019. And there's still a chance that GM Ryan Pace will look to add some healthy competition to the roster, but if Trubisky continues to play well, that competition will be for the backup job. 

It's also worth noting that one of the more appealing quarterback targets this offseason probably won't make it to the open market. Titans starter Ryan Tannehill continues to enjoy a remarkable comeback season and appears destined to sign a long-term extension with Tennessee sooner than later. After Tannehill, the discount quarterback rack includes names like Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota, players who a month ago would've been viewed as marked upgrades over Trubisky.

It doesn't feel like that's the case anymore.

Barring a massive regression from Trubisky over the next three games, it's starting to feel like he's winning back Chicago's confidence one game at a time. 

With all that in mind, here's the updated Bears QB Big Board entering Week 15:

Bears QB Big Board (Dec. 12, 2019)

1. Mitch Trubisky (Bears)
previous: 2 (Dec. 3)

2. Andy Dalton (Bengals)
previous: 1 (Dec. 3)

3. Ryan Tannehill (Titans)
previous: 3  (Dec. 3)

4. Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
previous: 4 (Dec. 3)

5. Marcus Mariota (Titans)
previous: 5 (Dec. 3)

6. Teddy Bridgewater (Saints)
previous: 6 (Dec. 3)

Outside looking in (list cut down to three)...

-Jake Fromm (Georgia)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

-Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

- Cam Newton (Panthers)
previous: outside looking in (Dec. 3)

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