An extensive look at the Cubs' trade deadline haul


An extensive look at the Cubs' trade deadline haul

The Cubs have essentially been out of the playoff race since May, but things took a long time to develop on the trade market.

But once things got going, the Cubs were really active, dealing away four players -- Geovany Soto, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Ryan Dempster -- and acquiring five prospects in return.

Let's take a look at the newest Cubs:

Arodys Vizcaino

The 21-year-old Dominican right-hander was the main return from the Braves for Maholm and Johnson and is the real prize of the Cubs' haul this July.

He saw some time in the majors last year with a 4.67 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 17.1 innings, but that was in relief. He appeared in 26 games across three levels for the Braves' minor league system last year and started 17 games with a 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 9.3 K9.

Vizcaino was named one of MLB's Top 100 prospects the past three winters (topping out at No. 40 prior to 2012), but underwent Tommy John surgery and the Cubs may have got him at a discount. Before he went down, Vizcaino was considered to be a better prospect than even Randall Delagado, a 22-year-old pitcher that was reportedly headed to Chicago in the Ryan Dempster deal that never happened last week.

"I think it's a great pickup," BaseballAmerica's Jim Callis said on 670 The Score Tuesday morning. "Obviously you're buying low on the guy because he's missed the whole season with Tommy John surgery. Vizcaino is a guy who was untouchable a year ago when the Braves were looking to make trades.

"Really the only question on him has been durability. He's a guy who throws in the mid-90s. He's got a tremendous curveball. He's had arm trouble in the past. The long-term question is, can he hold up and be a starter or is he more of a late-inning reliever? But it's a quality arm for two guys who weren't anywhere close to being part of the long-term plan."

BaseballProspectus' Kevin Goldstein was on 670 The Score after Tuesday's trade deadline passed and said he believes Vizcaino will likely end up as a reliever, but admits his stuff is enough to be a dominant reliever, potentially even as a closer.

Jaye Chapman

Chapman is a 25-year-old former 16th round draft pick who has never risen above the Triple-A level. However, he's found success in Gwinnett this year with a 3.52 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 10.1 K9 in 40 games (53.2 innings). He's only started eight games in his minor league career, so he profiles as a reliever at the big-league level, likely only in the middle innings.

"He's a reliever," Callis said. "He's a guy with a fringe-y fastball, usually works in the high '80s. Has a good changeup. Probably a ceiling as a 7th inning reliever. He's more of an inventory guy. Vizcaino is the prize here."

Here's more on Vizcaino and Chapman from and CubsDen.

Jacob Brigham

Brigham, 24, is a right-handed pitcher who came to the Cubs in the Soto deal. He has never pitched above Double-A, where he has started 21 games this year to the tune of a 4.28 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.

He has also had Tommy John surgery in the past and John Arguello at CubsDen says Brigham can touch 97, but typically resides in the 92-93 mph range on his fastball.

"Brigham's got a good arm, but realistically, he's probably more of a reliever than a starter in the long run," Callis said.

In the good news department, Brigham was tied for the Texas League lead with 116 strikeouts at the time of the trade Monday night.

Christian Villanueva

The 21-year-old third baseman is the main return from the Rangers for Dempster and while he is still in High-A ball, he has performed well, with a .285.356.421 slash line in 425 plate appearances this season.

"Villanueva is a pretty interesting third baseman," Goldstein said. "He's a guy that can hit, there's no question about that. He's got a very nice swing, ability to make contact. There's the potential for power. There's a little bit of power now. He may be getting a little more down the road. He has some idea at the plate.

"He's a very good defensive third baseman. He's an average runner. He's not the biggest guy in the world (listed as 5-foot-11, 160 pounds). He doesn't have those tools that just light you up. He's one of those players that his greatest strength might be a lack of weaknesses."

Villanueva just barely cracked BaseballAmerica's pre-2012 prospect rankings, coming in at No. 100. The Rangers had top prospect Mike Olt blocking Villanueva at third base in the minors, but will the same be the case for the Cubs and Josh Vitters?

"He may become better than Vitters," Goldstein said. "Vitters has been around forever. It's easy to forget -- the guy was just 17 years old when they drafted him. He's just starting to put things together. I think Vitters at least deserves a pretty long look this year, if just to see if he's really figured it out.

Villanueva is in High-A and he's two years younger than Vitters. That's it, only 2 years younger. He's not ahead of Vitters on the timetable. I think Vitters will have the first chance and Villanueva will have plenty of time to try to prove he's better."

Kyle Hendricks

Hendricks, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher, was taken in the eighth round of the 2011 MLB Draft and has excelled at High-A Myrtle Beach this year, posting a 2.82 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 20 starts while posting an incredible 7.47 K:BB ratio.

Arguello calls Hendricks a four-pitch guy with a low-'90s fastball and a good changeup.

Check out more on Villanueva and Hendricks at BaseballAmerica and CubsDen.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period


Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots


NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.