Bears

Cubs go with closer-by-committee just not Marmol or Cashner

714684.png

Cubs go with closer-by-committee just not Marmol or Cashner

The Boston media had fun with the closer-by-committee idea once Theo Epstein began running the Red Sox in 2003.

Thats where the Cubs are now, feeling their way through the ninth inning, though the stakes are clearly much lower, making a big-time closer a luxury item.

That Red Sox team made it to Game 7 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium, before a dramatic home run from Aaron Bleeping Boone ended it in the 11th inning.

By process of elimination, manager Dale Sveum is down to Shawn Camp and James Russell, and that will depend on matchups and the game situation.

The Cubs activated Carlos Marmol from the disabled list on Monday, and optioned Rafael Dolis to Triple-A Iowa. Dolis lasted about three weeks as closer and went 0-2 with a 24.00 ERA in his last five outings.

Sveum had a sarcastic response when a reporter asked if Marmol will go back to closing: He wasnt in the closer role when he left.

Its out of sight, out of mind, but there was Andrew Cashner sitting in the visiting dugout at Wrigley Field, a Padres hat on his head and sunglasses shielding his eyes.

Not that long ago, the Cubs seemed to have so many endgame solutions before Sean Marshall was traded to the Reds, Jeff Samardzija moved into the rotation and Kerry Wood retired.

People see the 6.35 ERA now, but Marmol earned that 20 million contract by going 49-for-54 in save chances during his first year-plus on the job.

Cashner, the 19th overall pick in the 2008 draft, had closed at Texas Christian University and the organization was split on his future through the final months of the Jim Hendry administration.

But Epstein and new general manager Jed Hoyer determined that Cashner would max out as a reliever, not a starter, and that wasnt as valuable as a future first baseman. So Cashner went to San Diego last winter in the Anthony Rizzo deal.

A lot changes when a new regime comes in, Cashner said. I wasnt their guy. I was one of Jim Hendrys guys. (Its) one of those things that you deal with and life goes on.

Cashner missed almost all of last season with a right shoulder injury, but is back throwing around 100 mph out of the Padres bullpen. He was widely viewed as a good guy in the Cubs clubhouse, but didnt appreciate a reporter inquiring about his health this time.

Really? Youre gonna ask me that question? Unbelievable.

Cubs officials once played up the comparisons between Cashner and Kid K. Growing up in Texas, Cashner idolized Wood. Cashner watched Woods final strikeout on television and sent him a text message the other day.

It was awesome, Cashner said. To get a chance to play with him for a year was pretty special.

Hoyer said the Cubs are targeting power arms in the upcoming amateur draft, and believes that the best bullpens are built from within. Thats a window into how the front office is thinking.

The Cubs are willing to experiment and try to develop their own closer. They seem less likely to go out and buy one. They know that relievers are notoriously difficult to project from one year to the next.

Marmol worked to regain the feel for his slider and fastball while recovering from his hamstring strain, and maybe the time away from Wrigley Field helped his state of mind.

It could be the same way for the 24-year-old Dolis, who skipped the Triple-A level on the way to the big leagues.

Its not even a rookie (thing), Marmol said. For everybody, its tough. When you go out there to close the game, you know its very important, because everybody before that did everything to put you in that position. It took them three hours.

When youre struggling to throw strikes, its not an easy thing. You got to be strong mentally.

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

All signs this week have pointed to Mitch Trubisky returning for the Bears’ Week 7 matchup against New Orleans, which should be exciting news for Chicago fans (right?).

Cam Jordan and the Saints defense, for their part, won’t be happy to see Mitch under center, but maaaaybe not for the reason you’d think. In an appearance on NFL Total Access this afternoon, Jordan was asked by Lindsay Rhodes what the difference between facing Trubisky and backup QB Chase Daniel is for New Orleans, and he laid out a pretty compelling case for preferring Daniel:

 

“I’ve been meaning to hit Chase ever since I got to the league,” Jordan said. “I’ve already hit Mitch.”

Jordan was quick to clarify that he “love[s] Chase” from his days sharing a locker room with him in New Orleans early in each of their careers. Daniel backed up Drew Brees from 2010-2012, overlapping with Jordan’s rookie and sophomore seasons (2011-2012). 

“He brought so much juice to our locker room when he was here,” Jordan continued. “I can’t wait for a chance to hit him. That’s how I show love to my friends.”

Daniel took the rib in stride, tweeting out a light-hearted response to the clip of Jordan a few hours later:


Jordan responded to that by saying he has "nothing but admiration" for Daniel and implored him to be the Brett Favre to his Michael Strahan. (Favre, you'll remember, famously crumpled in a heap at the feet of Strahan in Week 17 of the 2001 season, with Strahan needing only one sack to break the single-season record. That record of 22.5 sacks still stands to this day.) Chicago fans would certainly sign on for Daniel granting Jordan's wish, in the event of a blowout Bears victory.  

Whether it’s Trubisky or Daniel leading the Bears’ huddles on Sunday, though, the Saints defense will prove a formidable matchup, and Jordan is a big reason why. The four-time Pro Bowler has already racked up five sacks (tied for eighth in the NFL) and nine quarterback hits six games into the season.

Optimistically, the hope is Jordan never gets the chance to set his sights on any Bears quarterback this Sunday. Unrealistic? Definitely. But one can dream.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams

1018_minor_league_zack_collins.jpg
USA TODAY

MLB proposing colossal changes to minor leagues, including eliminating dozens of teams

If Major League Baseball gets its way, there could be seismic changes coming to the minor leagues.

According to a report from Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, the league has proposed a host of sweeping changes to the minor leagues, including the elimination of 42 affiliated teams.

The proposal is merely the beginning of what are expected to be lengthy negotiations over a new version of what’s called the “Professional Baseball Agreement,” basically the contract that keeps the major and minor leagues connected and minor league teams stocked with players employed by major league clubs. The existing edition expires at the end of the 2020 season, and so a new one will need to be hashed out.

Major League Baseball is looking for control over how the minor leagues are organized, with an eye on improving facilities and clustering affiliates and leagues from a geographic standpoint to cut down on travel costs. There’s also expected to be an increase in salaries for minor league players, which has long been a talking point thanks to the increasing number of descriptions of how financially difficult life can be for those trying to reach the majors.

To accomplish those goals, Major League Baseball is proposing drastic solutions.

The one that will grab the most attention is the elimination of more than a quarter of the existing affiliated teams in the minor leagues, removing affiliated minor league teams from more than three dozen cities across the United States and getting rid of more than 1,000 jobs for minor league players. Simply, the entire short-season rookie ball (excluding squads that play at team-owned facilities in Arizona and Florida) would be eliminated, leaving only four levels of affiliated teams: Low Class A, High Class A, Double-A and Triple-A.

If you’re wondering what would happen to those 42 teams, the proposal is for them to form something called a “Dream League,” which would essentially serve the same purpose as an independent league, allowing players without jobs to keep playing and try to get a job with a major league team.

Additionally, Major League Baseball is proposing radical restructuring of existing leagues in order to cluster teams closer together. That could include changing the level of certain teams, such as making a Class A team a Triple-A team based on the quality of facilities and what makes the most geographic sense. Leagues could also gain or lose a large number of teams, with the Triple-A International League growing to 20 teams and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League shrinking to just 10 teams. One Class A league was described as being reduced to just six teams, while the rest of its current teams would be put into a brand-new league.

As for how the White Sox and their affiliates would be affected, team-specific information was not included in the report. One read of the details of this proposal could see something such as the White Sox affiliates being relocated to Midwestern cities. Another, however, could see the White Sox affiliates mostly staying how they currently are, given those teams are all geographically close to one another, with all but one located in North Carolina.

Buried in all of this is another big change, a proposed move of the draft from June to August, giving players a couple more months to show off for major league teams, and a reduction in the number of rounds from the current 40 to somewhere between 20 and 25. That, and the elimination of short-season rookie ball, would likely prevent draftees from playing minor league baseball in the same year they’re drafted.

It’s all something to keep an eye on, for sure, as many fans across the country who closely follow minor league teams in their hometowns could experience a dramatic shakeup.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.