Bulls

Cubs ink four to minor league contracts

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Cubs ink four to minor league contracts

The Cubs made some minor moves Wednesday, inking four players to deals just before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Chicago signed outfielder Brian Bogusevic, infielder Alberto Gonzalez, outfielder Johermyn Chavez and catcher J.C. Boscan to minor league contracts.

Bogusevic, 28, was born in Oak Lawn and attended high school at the De La Salle Institute in Chicago. The Astros took him 24th overall in the 2005 draft. He began his career as a left-handed pitcher, but hasn't thrown an inning since 2008 after he racked up a 5.05 ERA in 77 minor-league outings (64 starts).

Bogusevic has primarily played outfield since '08, making his way through the Astros' minor league system. He's bounced between Triple-A and the big leagues over the past three seasons.

In 618 plate appearances in with the Astros since 2010, Bogusevic has put up a .227.310.346 batting line with 11 homers, 24 doubles and 66 runs. He can play all three outfield positions and has some speed, with 94 career stolen bases between the majors and minors.

Gonzalez is a 29-year-old journeyman from Venezuela, appearing with the Yankees, Nationals, Padres and Rangers over the past five seasons after starting his career with the Diamondbacks. He has played all four infield positions in the majors over the past couple of seasons, notching more than 130 games at both second base and shortstop. He's never shown much with the bat, boasting a .242.279.317 line in the MLB to go along with a .714 career minor league OPS.

Boscan has garnered 20 plate appearances with the Braves over the past three seasons, but has spent the majority of his time catching in the minors. The 32-year-old Venezuelan began his career with the Braves before making stops in Milwaukee and Cincinnati and returning to Atlanta. He has caught more than 1,000 games in his career, but boasts just a .614 minor league OPS.

Chavez is also from Venezuela, but the 23-year-old outfielder has yet to rise above Double-A. He's shown patience and some pop with the bat, sporting a .263.341.442 line in the minors. Chavez, who hit 32 homers in High-A ball in 2010, has seen time primarily as a corner outfielder, but has played a bit of center, too.

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: How NBA Draft combine impacted mock drafts

On this edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill discuss the NBA Draft and what happened at the NBA combine that shifted most experts mock drafts.

Kendall also explains why a "promise" to draft a player isn’t guaranteed. He also shares his experience on getting drafted by the Hornets and why he initially felt they were the wrong team for him.

North Carolina "News and Observer" Duke basketball beat writer Jonathan Alexander gives us his opinion on Wendell Carter and the other Duke draft prospects including why he thinks Carter will be a future all-star. Also includes an interview with Carter from the draft combine.

Listen to the full Bulls Talk Podcast right here:

Bears coaching upheavals portend inevitable stumbles

Bears coaching upheavals portend inevitable stumbles

Call it a small Bears reality check, if not a full wake-up call, then at least a nudge in the night. And this sort of thing should be expected, not just in OTAs, not just in training camp or preseason, but when it all counts.

And it should serve as a lesson of sorts. Because some of the underlying reasons are worth a little highlighting and patient understanding around a team that has spent its offseason and millions of dollars refashioning an offense, beginning with coach Matt Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich, and that offense wasn’t particularly good on Wednesday.

In a sport where the operative cliché is “just get better each and every day,” the Bears didn’t, but as far as their coach is concerned, “there’s two ways to look at it,” Nagy said. “Whether you say on our side, on offense, trying to see a bunch of different looks a defense can give you, is it too much or not? It’s good for us. It’ll help us out in the long run. It’s good for our players and they’ve handled it well. There’s going to be mistakes but they have it on tape to be able to look at. “

This is about more than just a few bad reps or missed assignments. It’s part of the good-news-bad-news reality that a sea change brings to a team.

The good news is that the Bears have a new coaching staff on offense.

The bad news is that the Bears have a new coaching staff on offense.

The Bears defense is predictably ahead of the offense, hardly a surprise, given that most of the core of the top-10 unit has remained in place. That said, you do have to like the attitude of the barely-above-rookie No. 1 quarterback challenging that assessment Wednesday, with a “Who says that?”

This while the offense has myriad moving and new parts, and interceptions, blown plays and such were occurring for an offense that, like Halas Hall, is a massive building work in progress.

“Well, today was a bad ‘build,’ but that’s to be expected,” Helfrich acknowledged. “We’re adding a chunk each day, I thought today was the first day where we had somebody do something that just like, ‘wait, OK’ – a few positions here and there, a few new guys, obviously a few veterans here and there that it’s all new to, hit the wall.”

It’s a “wall” that arguably is inevitable with a coaching change.

Not to make excuses, but….

For a sense of perspective, scroll back to Jay Cutler, who went through offensive coordinators perhaps faster than he went through socks: a year with Ron Turner, two with Mike Martz, one with Mike Tice, two with Aaron Kromer, one with Adam Gase, one with Dowell Loggains, who at least was a holdover from the Gase year. (Whether Cutler’s failure to match potential with production was the cause of or because of that turnover, this humble and faithful narrator leaves to you, the reader).

More than a few current Bears can only dream of that kind of “stability.” And because of that, the 2018 pre- and regular seasons may be bumpier than the optimism surrounding the Nagy hire was anticipating.

Guard Kyle Long, still not practicing full-go while he rehabs from surgeries, is on his fifth offensive-line coach in six NFL seasons. Center Cody Whitehair, who has started every game since the Bears drafted him in the 2016 second round, has had three different line coaches in as many seasons: Dave Magazu for 2016, Jeremiah Washburn for 2017 and now Harry Hiestand. Left tackle Charles Leno was drafted in 2014, making Hiestand Leno’s fourth O-line coach.

And this is the offensive line, the unit that most engenders use of the term “continuity.”

“Each coach brings in a little bit, different techniques,” Whitehair said. “There’s a lot of time for us to hone in and get to know what he’s trying to teach us. But in the end it’s still football.”

Kevin White is entering his fourth NFL season. He is on his fourth receivers coach (Mike Groh, Curtis Johnson, Zach Azzanni, Mike Furrey) and third different season-starting quarterback (Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon, Mitch Trubisky), not including offseason battery mates ranging from Jimmy Clausen, Brian Hoyer, David Fales and Connor Shaw, depending on how much rep time he spent with which unit at various times during his training camps.

“It doesn’t matter,” White said. “Roll with the punches, come here and do my job every day.”

Regardless of how many bosses you’ve reported to.