Cubs

Hester's special package

759260.png

Hester's special package

Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been in the news lately after his recent column for the Chicago Sun Times discussing the passing of Junior Seau and the stigmas of mental health.

Marshall recently joined the Waddle and Silvy show of ESPN Chicago 1000 to talk about his column and teammate Devin Hesters ability to be a Pro Bowl wide receiver.

Does Hester have what it takes to be a Pro Bowler in 2012?

No one would argue Hesters special abilities; when some tacklers flail at air while defenders in pursuit see real estate widen, Hester pulls away with sheer speed. But what is Hesters special package GM Phil Emery discussed post draft? Can this package propel Hester to a Pro Bowl wide receiver?

Numbers to Contemplate

Here are regular season numbers from 2011 NFC Pro Bowlers:

Roddy White (Falcons) - 100 receptions, 1,290 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Calvin Johnson (Lions) - 96 receptions, 1,681 yards, 16 touchdowns.

Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals) - 80 receptions, 1,411 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Miles Austin (Cowboys) - 43 receptions, 579 yards, 8 touchdowns. It is highly debatable for Austin to even be in the Pro Bowl, but other NFC receivers like Carolinas Steve Smith (79 receptions, 1,394 yards, 7 touchdowns) bowed out.

Additional Top NFC wide receiver numbers

Hakeem Nicks (Giants) - 76 receptions, 1,192 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson (Packers) - 68 receptions, 1,263 yards, 15 touchdowns.

Victor Cruz (Giants) - 82 receptions, 1,536 yards, 8 touchdowns.

Marshall believes Hester will have a bigger year on offense this season, stating, Honestly, I think he is going to have a bigger year than me this year. I just dont think hes been in an environment, a situation offensively that catered to him as a player.

This is a pretty big statement by Marshall, who logged had 81 catches, 1,214 yards, and 6 touchdowns last season. One would assume the Bears would like this type of production to continue from Marshall if not improve when combined with solid quarterback play from Jay Cutler.

Marshall believes the addition of new quarterback coach Jeremy Bates, as well as Jay Cutlers growth at quarterback, will make all the difference for Hesters production at wideout. Marshall said, I think they will be able to put him in a better position this year to where he can probably do some damage.

Judging by the numbers from other every down wide receivers in the NFC rather than package players, it is difficult to project Devin Hester to a Pro Bowl. Hester is coming off his worst season with 26 receptions, 369 yards, and only 1 touchdown. Injury held Hester back in 2011, but his 5 year average only consists of 39 receptions a season since his conversion in 2006. Hesters biggest year was 2009 where he caught a career high 57 balls for only 757 yards and 6 touchdowns, which is hardly Pro Bowl worthy.

A lot depends on the special package for Hester, but it is hard to make an impact as a player when you are on and then off the field.

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

Why Cubs core's desire to sign extensions might not matter anymore

The day after Kris Bryant suggested that first-time fatherhood and the dramatic reality of world events have changed how he looks at his future with the Cubs, general manager Jed Hoyer outlined why it might be all but moot.

Setting aside the fact that the Cubs aren’t focusing on contract extensions with anyone at this time of health and economic turmoil, the volatility and unpredictability of a raging COVID-19 pandemic in this country and its economic fallout have thrown even mid-range and long-term roster plans into chaos.

“This is without question the most difficult time we’ve ever had as far as projecting those things,” Hoyer said. “All season in projecting this year, you weren’t sure how many games we were going to get in. Projecting next season obviously has challenges, and who knows where the country’s going to be and the economy’s going to be.”

Bryant, a three-time All-Star and former MVP, is eligible for free agency after next season. He and the club have not engaged in extension talks for three years. And those gained little traction while it has looked increasingly likely since then that Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, would eventually take his star client to market — making Bryant a widely circulated name in trade talks all winter.

MORE: Scott Boras: Why Kris Bryant's free agency won't be impacted by economic crisis

The Cubs instead focused last winter on talks with All-Star shortstop Javy Báez, making “good” or little progress depending on which side you talked to on a given day — until the pandemic shut down everything in March.

Báez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are both also eligible for free agency after next season, with All-Star catcher Willson Contreras right behind them a year later.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

None has a multiyear contract, and exactly what the Cubs are willing to do about that even if MLB pulls off its 60-game plan this year is hard for even the team’s front office executives to know without knowing how hard the pandemic will continue to hammer America’s health and financial well-being into the winter and next year.

Even with a vaccine and treatments by then, what will job markets look like? The economy at large? The economy of sports? Will anyone want to gather with 40,000 others in a stadium to watch a game anytime soon?

And even if anyone could answer all those questions, who can be sure how the domino effect will impact salary markets for athletes?

“There’s no doubt that forecasting going forward is now much more challenging from a financial standpoint,” Hoyer said. “But that’s league-wide. Anyone that says they have a feel for where the nation’s economy and where the pandemic is come next April is lying.”

The Cubs front office already was in a tenuous place financially, its payroll budget stretched past its limit and a threat to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold for a second consecutive season.

And after a quick playoff exit in 2018 followed by the disappointment of missing the playoffs in 2019, every player on the roster was in play for a possible trade over the winter — and even more so at this season’s trade deadline without a strong start to the season.

Now what?

For starters, forget about dumping short-term assets or big contracts for anything of value from somebody’s farm system. Even if baseball can get to this year’s Aug. 31 trade deadline with a league intact and playing, nobody is predicting more than small level trades at that point — certainly not anything close to a blockbuster.

After that, it may not get any clearer for the sport in general, much less the Cubs with their roster and contract dilemmas.

“We have a lot of conversations about it internally, both within the baseball side and then with the business side as well,” Hoyer said. “But it’s going to take a long time and probably some sort of macro things happening for us to really have a good feel for where we’re going to be in ’21 and beyond.”

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Cubs' GM Jed Hoyer: Everyone in MLB has to take COVID-19 'equally' serious

Veteran umpire Joe West made waves Tuesday downplaying the severity of COVID-19 in an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. 

“I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus," West said. "I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

As far as the Cubs are concerned, those comments don’t represent how to treat the virus. In fact, they’ve gone out of their way to ensure everyone treats it with equal severity.

“That’s one of the things we've really tried internally to instill in our players and our coaches,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday, “[that] everyone here has to take it equally [serious].”

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Hoyer noted like the world, MLB isn’t immune to people having different viewpoints on the virus — those who show concern and those who don’t. This echoes comments made by manager David Ross earlier on Tuesday, and Hoyer said those he’s talked to with the Cubs don’t feel the same way as West.

The Cubs had an up close and personal look at pitching coach Tommy Hottovy’s battle with COVID-19 during baseball’s shutdown. It took the 38-year-old former big leaguer 30 harrowing days to test negative, and in the past week many Cubs have said watching him go through that hit home. 

“When you get a 38-year-old guy in wonderful health and he talks about his challenges with it,” Hoyer said, “I think that it takes away some of those different viewpoints.”

To ensure everyone stays safe and puts the league in the best position to complete a season, MLB needs strict adherence to its protocols.

“I think that's one of our goals and one of the things that we feel is vital is that we have to make sure everyone views this the same way, because we can't have a subset of people within our group that don't view it with the same severity,” Hoyer said.

“That’s not gonna work. We're not gonna be successful."

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.