Cubs

Common drafting trend in NFC North?

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Common drafting trend in NFC North?

Its pretty evident the Bears and every NFC North team went specifically for need when dissecting the 2012 NFL Draft. How could this happen? Fans have been told repeatedly by organizations that they solely the draft best player available unless trading up or down to target a certain player. My thoughts exactly as teams like the Bears targeted their guy, Alshon Jeffery, by trading up to fill a huge need in the 2nd round. Lets all leave the blinders on and assume it was just happenstance that every NFC North team did not draft for need. The selections tell another story:

Bears - Do Bear fans agree with the first round selection of DE Shea McClellin? The Bears desperately needed a pass rusher opposite Julius Peppers. Is McClellin the real answer when many had him slated for OLB in a 3-4 Defense? The need for a defensive end seems to have clouded the judgment of the actual selection. Only time will tell for McClellin, but the Bears will tell fans all day long they love the pick. Another desperate need was to address getting more playmakers for Jay Cutler. Knowing the likeliness of not having Johnny Knox for the 2012 NFL Season, Jeffery was selected in the second round.

Green Bay Did general manager Ted Thompson not think there was one, NOT ONE offensive player better than any of the defensive players selected through the first five rounds? Here are the selections: DE, DT, LB, DT, SS, OLB, then in Round 7 OT and finally QB. The reality is the Packers ranked last in the NFL in total defense in 2011. The Packers gave up a dreadful 411.6 yards per game.

Detroit I live in Detroit, so understand when I wake up to read the Monday morning paper, there will be at least one quote by head coach Jim Schwartz concerning his unhappiness with RT Gosder Cherilus. Thus, the Lions drafted OT Riley Reiff from Iowa in the first round and WR Ryan Broyles in the second round to eventually replace Nate Burleson. The rest of the Lions selections reflected their needs on defense. Here are the Lions picks after Round 2: CB, OLB, OLB, CB, OLB and CB. I wonder if Lions general manager Martin Mayhew just lucked into these top defensive players considering the Lions defense was ranked 23rd overall. Detroit has specifically been weak in the back 7 of their defense, often playing players out of position.

Minnesota - Mmmmm. General manager Rick Spielman stated before the draft that, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson all rated equally on Minnesotas draft board. The left tackle ultimately was chosen after the Vikings traded down one spot with Cleveland who selected Richardson. Again, the reality is Minnesota has to score more points. The only way to score more points is to butter the bread of their All-Pro running back, Adrian Peterson. Selecting the needed LT will also help out the most important position on the field, their young quarterback, Christian Ponder. The Vikings only scored 22.1 points per game, ranking 19th in the NFL. Green Bay led the league in scoring with 35 points per game and Detroit was fourth in scoring with 29.6 points a game. Minnesota addressed their need to score more points by selecting Kalil.

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

Jake Arrieta full of appreciation in return to Wrigley mound: ‘I’ll never forget this city’

The last time Jake Arrieta pitched at Wrigley Field, his night ended with Cubs fans giving him a rousing standing ovation. The former Cubs right hander tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, leading the Cubs to victory in Game 4 of the 2017 NLCS—their only win against the Los Angeles Dodgers that series.

Arrieta returned to Wrigley Field as a visitor on Monday night, making his first start against the Cubs since joining the Philadelphia Phillies last season. Ironically, Arrieta’s counterpart for the night was Yu Darvish, who ultimately replaced Arrieta in the Cubs starting rotation.

Despite now donning Phillies red, Cubs fans once again showed their love for Arrieta, giving him a lengthy standing ovation ahead of his first plate appearance. Darvish even stepped off the mound in respect for the moment.

“I loved it, absolutely loved it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters postgame. “[I’m] very happy that our fans would acknowledge him like that. Yu stepped away from the mound nicely. Jake deserved it.”

Arrieta tipped his helmet in appreciation for the crowd, taking in the moment for more than 30 seconds before stepping into the batter’s box. After the game, he told reporters that moment brought back memories of his time with the Cubs.

“That was something that really brought back great memories of getting that same sort of ovation pretty much on a nightly basis,” Arrieta said. “[I’m] very appreciative of that. I can’t say thank you enough to the city of Chicago, I really can’t.”

Arrieta took fans back to his Cubs tenure on Monday, throwing six innings of one run ball in the Phillies’ 5-4 10-inning win. Although the 33-year-old didn’t pick up the victory, he matched Darvish—who threw six innings of three-run ball—pitch by-pitch.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler noted how well Arrieta handled his emotions throughout the night.

“I thought he handled the emotions really well. I thought he was in control of the game even when we were down,” Kapler said to reporters. “He always maintained his poise and he just got stronger as the outing went on and that’s why we were able to have him take down the sixth inning for us.”

It’s well-documented how Arrieta’s career improved for the better after the Cubs acquired him in a trade with the Baltimore Orioles in July 2013. When the Cubs acquired him, Arrieta held a career 5.46 ERA in 69 games (63 starts). He finished his Cubs career with a 2.73 ERA in 128 regular season starts. He also won five postseason games with the Cubs, including Games 2 and 6 of the 2016 World Series.

Despite moving on in free agency, Arrieta spoke highly of his time with the Cubs, their fans and the city of Chicago.

“Cubs fans all across the country, all across the world, they really respect and appreciate what guys are able to do here for them,” he said. “It means a lot, it really does.

"I’ll never forget this city, the fan base, the organization, everything that they did for me. It was 4 1/2 incredible years of my career.”

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Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish was one pitch away.

Holding onto a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, Darvish threw Phillies catcher JT Realmuto a 2-2 cutter. It made sense - Darvish had been spotting that pitch well all night, and the Phillies were averaging a paltry 79.8 mph exit velocity against it.

With one strike standing between Darvish and a 6-inning shutout, Realmuto took Darvish’s cutter and sent it back up the middle for a game-tying RBI single. A 2-RBI triple from César Hernández followed. In the blink of an eye, what was shaping up to be one of Darvish’s finest moments in Chicago was instead reduced to yet another start spent searching for silver linings.

“Really good. He was outstanding tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He pitched really well.

“He had really good stuff. He had command of his stuff, he had command of himself. I thought he was outstanding - even better than what he looked like in Cincinnati. I thought that was probably his best game for us to date.”

Darvish has continued to lean heavily on his cutter this season, more so than any year prior. After throwing it 13 percent of the time last season, he’s going to that pitch almost 25 percent of the time now. If that holds, it’d beat his previous career-high, set in 2013, by six percentage points.

All things considered, that pitch has actually been good for him this season. It’s his go-to offering when he needs to induce weak contact, and batters are hitting .125 against it so far. He gets batters to chase cutters 29.5 percent of the time, the most of any pitch he throws. While he has admitted in games past that he relies too heavily on his fastball, Maddon sees no issues with the new trend.

“I have no concerns with that whatsoever,” he said. “There’s different ways for pitchers to attack hitters, and if it's successful, I really would not change a whole lot.”

Though the night was dedicated to celebrating one of the franchises most beloved pitchers, it was one of their most maligned that continued to show signs of figuring it out. He’s put together back-to-back starts with three or less walks for the first time this season, and has allowed two or less runs in three of the last five.

The pitcher even stepped off the mound during Arrieta’s first at-bat, in order to let the standing ovation continue on.

“He’s is a legend in Chicago,” Darvish said after the game. “And I pitched against him and pitched pretty good, so it makes me confident.”

The bullpen again struggled on Monday night, as the trio of Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, and Kyle Ryan allowed two runs on five hits, including the game-winning solo home run from Realmuto in the 10th. For a moment it looked like the Cubs had a win wrapped up when Brach got outfielder Andrew McCutchen to bite on a two-strike slider, but was (probably incorrectly) called a checked swing.  He would eventually draw a walk, leading to Jean Segura’s game-tying single.

“On the field, I thought for sure [that McCutchen swung],” Brach said. “Looking at the first base umpire, I was a little taken aback. That’s why I went off the mound - just to regather myself, because I didn’t want to let the emotion get to me there.

“It’s a 50-50 call, and unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”

 

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