At the trade deadline, the Cubs' roster was jam-packed with trade bait that potential contenders were interested in. Four guys have already been dealt and several others (Alfonso Soriano?, Jeff Baker?, Carlos Marmol?) could potentially find their way through waivers in August.
One such guy that drew some attention was Darwin Barney, who is rated as the sixth-most valuable player in the NL with a 4.4 WAR. His defensive WAR sits at 3.3, a full 1.5 wins above Starlin Castro, who comes in at second place.
Barney's stellar glove also earned him the best defensive player award for July from ESPN's SweetSpot blog. He barely edged out Josh Reddick of the Athletics and Mark Teixeira of the Yankees.
The 26-year-old second baseman has benefited greatly from the increased emphasis on defensive positioning from the Cubs' coaching staff this year, but he's made all the plays when they've come his way, with only two errors on the season, one of which came at shortstop.
Barney has saved 27 runs so far this season with his glove, including eight in July alone.
While his average and on-base percentage have remained pretty stagnant since the start of last season, his slugging percentage his increased almost 40 points this year. They always say winning a Gold Glove is about hitting well enough for the rest of the league to take notice of your defense, and it's quite possible Barney could be in line for his first such award.
He doesn't turn 27 until November, so it could also be the first of many Gold Gloves.
The Chicago Bears placed DL Akiem Hicks on injured reserve (elbow), the team announced Tuesday. In a corresponding move, rookie guard Alex Bars was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Hicks suffered a dislocated elbow in Week 5's loss to the Raiders and was expected to miss a significant amount of time. He'll be eligible to return for the team's final three games in 2019, assuming he recovers in time.
His void in the lineup will likely be filled by Roy Robertson-Harris, who's thrived with more playing time while Bilal Nichols recovered from his hand injury. Nichols is set to return to the lineup Sunday against the Saints.
Hicks' absence was felt in London against Oakland when rookie RB Josh Jacobs ran for 123 yards in a game that Hicks was mostly sidelined for. The Bears will need multiple players, including second-level linebackers like Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan, to step up now that Hicks will be gone for a while.
The Bears defense gave up a season-high 24 points in the Week 5 loss to the Raiders. The bye week that followed meant they had to stew on that performance for an extra seven days.
Bears safety Eddie Jackson admitted the defense “didn’t hold up” in an interview on the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday morning. It sounds like they are fired up to not have a repeat performance against the Saints.
“We want to get that bad taste out of our mouths,” Jackson said. “Unfortunately, we had to wait for a bye week.
“Now we got to make a statement game here at home.”
That statement game will have to come without stud defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Hicks got injured in the loss to the Raiders and is expected to miss significant time.
Jackson talked about what Hicks’ absence will mean to the defense.
“That’s a tough loss for us,” Jackson said. “The style of play Akiem brings is hard to fill. Right now we’re doing a good job holding up with guys coming in and stepping up, but at the end of the day that’s Akiem. His resume speaks for itself. What he does speaks for itself. Film, everything. It’s a tough loss, man. We’re hoping to have him back real soon for playoffs or the end of the season. It really hurts us, but we ride with him. He still comes around. He’s still engaged and meetings and things like that.”
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