With changes coming, Cubs get a bounce before All-Star break


With changes coming, Cubs get a bounce before All-Star break

NEW YORK Four years ago, Ryan Dempster was one of eight Cubs picked to go to the All-Star Game. They could think about being buyers at the trade deadline and dream about the World Series and a parade down Michigan Avenue.
That was another borough, the old Yankee Stadium, and 2008 might as well be ancient history as far as this team is concerned.
The Cubs rolled their suitcases through the clubhouse after Sundays 7-0 victory over the New York Mets, looking forward to a mini-vacation. Playing in Queens, not far from LaGuardia Airport, they got out of there in a hurry.
The Cubs (33-52) head into the All-Star break having won nine of their last 13 games, creating a sense of momentum with their starting pitching and the promotion of Anthony Rizzo.
But between now and the July 31 trade deadline, there is the very real possibility that the roster could be torn apart. Dempster (4-3, 1.99 ERA) just shut down the Mets for five innings in a showcase start.
How do you cover for a guy like that?
You just dont, Sveum said. If anything like that happens, you dont replace a 2.00 ERA. Those things are hard to replace. Thats why people want to trade for those guys.
Right now, Theo Epsteins front office is essentially dividing assets into two groups: Players to build around Rizzo and Starlin Castro, and players to be cashed in for prospects.
Castro who along with Bryan LaHair will represent the Cubs at the All-Star Game in Kansas City added a three-run bomb in the seventh inning.
Dempster, a respected veteran voice, was asked a question about the growth hes seen from Castro, and tried to make a joke about that Bobby Valentine moment from last season.
Well, obviously, hes not turning around and looking in the outfield when pitches are going this year, so thats always a good step, Dempster said.
Valentine an ESPN analyst at the time whos now managing the Boston Red Sox ripped Castro for spacing out at shortstop.
Dempster continued: Kidding aside, hes making huge strides in his ability to even read the plays, know when a pitchers going inside. Hes moving around the infield and his turning double plays has been unbelievable. Hes just doing a great job there.
Everybody knows he can hit, but when youre the shortstop, youre the leader of the defense, and hes really taken over that role.
For all the talk about The Cubs Way and how Castro fits in and that new patient approach which got hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo fired last month they jumped on Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese for four runs in the first inning and finished it off in two hours and eight minutes.
For a few days at least, the players can go off the grid and not have to listen to all the questions about trade rumors.
Thats something (we all) have to deal with, Sveum said. The veteran guys that have been part of this understand that your name might pop up here. It might be on SportsCenter. It might be on the MLB channel.
But thats part of the gig this time of year.
Its no secret which direction the Cubs will take as they head into a market designed for sellers. There will be an extra playoff team in each league, and on Sunday morning, 19 teams woke up less than 10 games out of a wild-card spot.
Theres always the factor of whos adding, whos subtracting, Sveum said. But now with the new playoff system, theres so many teams that feel like a piece of the puzzle here (or) there might get them over the hump to get in the position they want to be in.
This was a winning road trip, but who knows what sort of team this will be by the end of the month. Castro wont miss being in the Dominican Republic, and promises to come back stronger.
No, I dont want to go home, Castro said. Youve seen the commercials. Its not a break. I want to be in the All-Star Game every year.

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

According to Bleacher Report, Wendell Carter Jr. would be taken fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies if the NBA were to redraft this year’s class based off of Summer League performances.

It may sound like a crazy concept (and it is), but Carter Jr. averaged the second most points, 14.6, through five July games in Las Vegas. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 minutes in his glamorous first-stint with Chicago. Those numbers are even more striking if you consider Carter Jr.’s 42.9 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

Carter Jr., the real seventh overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft, looked like the all-around player the Bulls were hoping to get this offseason. He made his blocking abilities as a center known from the moment he stepped on the court in Summer League.

In their re-draft, Bleacher Report had Chicago using the No. 7 pick on the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, who was actually taken 36th overall in last month’s Draft.

Robinson, a center, averaged 13 points and 24.8 minutes per game over five Summer League contests. He was the best rebounder on his team with an average of 10.2 in the five games that the Knicks played.

The 20-year-old took the second most shots on the Knicks and had the highest field goal percentage at 67 percent, but Robinson did not have any three-point attempts.  What made his recent production seem even more surprising was the fact that the 7'1'' big man did not play a single minute of college basketball.

But would Robinson fit in the Bulls’ system?

Chicago has taken on an offense-first mentality, so Robinson would not be as great of a fit in the Bulls lineup as Carter Jr., but he would still be an impact player. He can be compared to the Bulls’ current center Robin Lopez, who averaged a similar amount of points per game (11.8 points in 26.4 minutes) last season as Robinson’s Summer League average (13 points in 24.8 minutes). And like Lopez, Robinson will likely be most effective around the basket and in the pick-and-roll.

Robinson would also have to learn the defensive concepts that a veteran like Lopez has mastered over his 10-year career.

Next season, the Bulls will have an exciting scoring trio of Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen and Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. And the fact that Carter Jr. is getting so much love in the national spotlight is yet another reason for Bulls fans to be excited about this upcoming season.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: