Cubs

Word on the Street: Pacers' Granger talking trash

Word on the Street: Pacers' Granger talking trash

Sunday, April 10, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Pacers' Granger talks trash

Danny Granger has is looking ahead to the Bulls-Pacers first-round playoff series, making a comment that will make him a marked man.

"Boston's a different monster," Granger told the Indianapolis Star. "They don't have the best record in the East, but they won championships. They know how to do it. They have four, five guys you have to worry about, from (Paul) Pierce, (Rajon) Rondo, (Kevin) Garnett and (Ray) Allen.

"Chicago, they go as Derrick Rose goes. If you make a concerted effort to stop Derrick Rose, you have a better chance to beat them." (chicagotribune.com)
Cubs sign veteran pitcher Ortiz

The Cubs have signed veteran right-hander Ramon Ortiz to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Iowa.

Ortiz spent the 2010 season with three different organizations - the Dodgers, Mets and Rays - and finished with a 6.30 ERA over 16 major league appearances (two starts).

The 37-year-old will serve as starting rotation depth for the Cubs, who lost both Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells to injuries this past week.

Ortiz has a 4.93 career ERA and 1.42 career WHIP over 274 total appearances. He spent 2008 in Japan. (hardballtalk.com)

Yankees ink Silva to minor-league deal

According to SI's Jon Heyman, the New York Yankees signed Carlos Silva to a minor league deal Saturday.

The Yankees have been searching for starting pitching help all season and also have another former Cub Mark Prior in their minor leagues.

Silva was released by the Cubs just before the regular season started after the right-hander had some choice words to say about the organization. (Twitter--SI_JonHeyman)

Turco likely to change uniforms?

NHL free agency 2011 is not too far away. For goaltenders, there is a strong crop of high-profile free agents. According to the Bleacher Report, Marty Turco ranks on the top 11 goaltenders who are most likely to change uniforms.

Turco signed a one-year deal before this season, but quickly lost the job to rookie goalie Corey Crawford. And more and more, it's looking like Crawford is in the position of being the Blackhawks starter for a long time.

Turco is a free agent this summer, and could sign with a club that needs a starting goaltender. (Bleacher Report)

Manny Ramirez retiring

Major League Baseball has announced that Manny Ramirez has retired and that the announcement came after he was told of another issue with the drug treatment and prevention program.

Ramirez was 1 for 17 with the Tampa Bay Rays this season. In 24 games with the White Sox in 2010, Ramirez hit .261 with one home run and two RBIs. (hardballtalk.com)

Peyton Manning is a dad!

Congratulations are in order for Peyton Manning. The QB missed Wednesday morning's antitrust hearing because his wife Ashley gave birth to twins. Mom and the little boy and girl (Marshall Williams and Mosley Thompson) are all doing well. (Pro Football Talk)

Agreement reached for Detroit Pistons sale

Michigan native and billionaire financier Tom Gores has reached a deal to purchase the Detroit Pistions. After months of negotiations, the Pistons have confirmed the sale has been agreed to. The terms of the deal remain unknown, but it does include The Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theatre.

We are pleased to welcome Tom Gores as the new owner of the Detroit Pistons and Palace Sports and Entertainment, owner Karen Davidson said in a statement. Just as my late husband, Bill Davidson, was the face of the Pistons, I am confident that Tom will bring the same energy, dedication and love to this organization. I look forward to seeing Tom follow in Bills footsteps, and carry on his legacy. (Pro Basketball Talk)

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

Behind a refined approach, Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start this spring

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes/failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs, and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who’s struggled immensely at the plate for the last season-and-a-half at the plate.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora recently refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined, and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

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Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

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USA Today

Two of the Cubs' best prospects made Keith Law's annual Top 100 list

For those who follow such things, Keith Law's yearly Top 100 prospect rankings is always a highly anticipated read. What would baseball twitter even do with their time if they couldn't spend it vocally disagreeing with subjective lists? Having a handful of Top 100 guys is always a shot in the arm for franchises that maybe aren't doing a whole lot of winning at the major league level; when you know you're not winning a World Series, the debuts of these prospects are high points of the summer. 

There wasn't a whole lot of Cubs' representation this season, which isn't a surprise by any means. Only guys two made Law's list: Brennen Davis at 55, and Brailyn Marquez at 80.  

Law claims Davis has the highest upside of any Cubs' prospect, but isn't necessarily close to a debut: 

Davis is lanky and has barely begun to fill out, so there’s likely to be more power to come, while he’s already shown he can manage at-bats and use the middle of the field to get himself on base. Despite his 6′4″ frame he already has a very balanced swing, and the Cubs will just have to tighten up some mechanical things since he’s got such long levers. A former shortstop, he’s adapted quickly to center field; he projects to stay there and add value with his range. 

He also loves Marquez's stuff – comparing it to Aroldis Chapman's – and says it's the reason why he's team's best pitching prospect since Dylan Cease. You can see the entire rankings, which go pretty in-depth, right here.