Cubs

Boden: Luongo to Hawks is a ludicrous idea

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Boden: Luongo to Hawks is a ludicrous idea

I have a lot of respect (and learn a lot) from many of the more prominent national reporters on the NHL beat. But after hearing an idea floated by a handful of them since the Canucks -- and then the Blackhawks -- were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, Im here to set the record straight on a theory that makes absolutely no sense.

Its as simple as this: Roberto Luongo is not coming to the Blackhawks.

Blackhawks management, and most Blackhawks fans, understand this makes absolutely no sense and would create another headache instead of solve the ones theyll try to address this offseason. I thought this blindfolded dart-throwing had run its course, but there it was again this week in the pages of Sports Illustrated magazine and on the television screen of NHL Network. Lets just count the reasons it wont happen:

1. If Luongo couldnt perform to his capabilities in a town that actually cheers for him, how would he handle things playing for a fan base that doesnt like him? How would he handle things playing for a team that added to his professional misery for three straight playoffs? And this isnt the hated Dennis Rodman coming to the Bulls with his championship rings from the hated Detroit Pistons as a final piece to another three-peat. Luongo has only a wedding ring.

2. The Blackhawks are not going to help the Canucks get a problem off their hands in trying to make Cory Schneider their goalie of the present and future.

3. The Blackhawks are not going to pay his 5.3 million Salary Cap hit through 2022. They only have roughly 6.8 million of Cap space for next year under the exisiting ceiling right now and that might decrease whenever a new CBA is reached. Oh, and Im sure Vancouver would want players, prospects or draft picks in return.

4. The opinion here is that theres just not a very high regard for Luongo as a goalie in the locker room or with most of those making player personnel decisions. This is not a fact, but a belief through observation over the past three years.

So those are the four main reasons it wont happen. There are probably a few other legitimate ones we could come up with as well. For those Hawks fans who do think the team needs someone better than Corey Crawford as their No. 1 netminder, feel free to speak up if you believe Luongos the answer.

I try not to come off as a flag-waving Crawford supporter, but it appears the organization is going to see how he bounces back from this past season, with Ray Emery again backing him up. Unless the team includes Crawford in a deal in which they get another goalie in return, he wont be going anywhere. Based on his rookie season, you know the capability is in there -- and if he is, in fact, still around whenever training camp begins -- this will be the season that shapes his career.

I dont remember a lot of people screaming last summer to let him go when he was a restricted free agent after taking over the starting role. He has two years remaining on that deal at a reasonable Cap hit (2.66 million), and if he regains that rookie form, Im sure most Hawks fans would be satisfied. For those wanting the Hawks to get an elite goalie, Ive asked who is elite and available, and what would a trading partner reasonably accept?

But this isnt about Crawford, really. Its about Luongo and about how hes definitely not an answer in Chicago. If Nikolai Khabibulin, Cristobal Huet and Marty Turco thought they had it tough living up to expectations in recent years here, what would Bobby Lu be in for?

The Canucks will have to find someone other than this rival to help ease their headache in the crease.

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 in 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 mere 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.

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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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