White Sox

How good can 2012 Bears really be?

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How good can 2012 Bears really be?

One simple truth after five games of 2012 is that underneath it all, it is still unclear just how good the Chicago Bears can be.

Not how good they are. They are 4-1 and you are what your record says you are.

But in each of the past two seasons the Bears from about this point of the year began to go inexorably up. After game five last season the Bears reeled off five straight wins, stopping only when Jay Cutler fractured his thumb. After the off week in 2011 the Bears won their next five and seven of their next eight.

A measured appraisal now is that, whereas a team like the Minnesota Vikings is very likely to have some stumbles and even a fall, the Bears on the brink of moving from good to very good.

The Bears have reached a 4-1 mark with a succession of jaw-dropping performances by a defense that scored five touchdowns on takeaways in the last three games.

But heres the thing: They hit 4-1 despite special teams, a perennial strength area of Lovie Smith teams, playing pedestrian football.

And despite the offense standing at 10th rushing yards per game but ranking in the NFLs top 10 in only that and third- and fourth-down efficiency. The No. 10 ranking and average of 123.6 yards per game were boosted by the 214 rushing yards against hapless Jacksonville.

Thats not a negative. What it says is that the 2012 Bears are a good team even without anything close to elite play from two of its three core phases.

But after the break

The rank for the rushing yardage is significant in part because this is precisely the point at which the Bears clicked into another gear in this bedrock area.

But in 2010 the Bears ran for 100 yards in just two of their first seven games. They then rushed for 100-plus in eight of their final nine.

Last season they rushed for an inept 161 combined yards in their first three games. Then came a 224-yard effort against Carolina, 122 in the loss at Detroit. From that point the Bears ran for more than 105 yards in eight of the next 10 games, even without Matt Forte for the last three 100-yarders, and one of the two sub-100s was the Kansas City game, when Forte was lost in the first quarter.

Even in the run game, we started off a little bit slow, but they improve week in and week out, Forte said. As long as we keep improving up front and give Jay Cutler time back there to throw the ball without being rushed or getting hit, hes going to be fine.

This is indeed the point of the year at which the Bears have begun to dominate with balance built on a run game. This year the run game already has been in motion with Mike Tice admittedly still learning how to truly coordinate an offense.

I haven't looked at how we're improving. I don't look at the up and down, Tice said. I kind of take it like a number of things each week. And I think we're getting better, and that's really what I look at.

How much better that can be will be closely watched throughout the NFC for the rest of this year.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

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USA TODAY

White Sox add Alex Presley at Triple-A, another veteran outfielder who could factor into 2018 plans for banged-up outfield

Not long after the White Sox brought Michael Saunders into the organization, another outfielder with major league experience is joining Triple-A Charlotte.

Alex Presley — a 32-year-old who played 71 games last season for the Detroit Tigers and has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers — is the latest addition to the Knights’ outfield. He’s a guy who could potentially be used to help the White Sox outfield, which has seen two Opening Day players go on the disabled list for extended periods of time.

Avisail Garcia is in his fifth week on the DL while dealing with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Nicky Delmonico is expected to miss the next four to six weeks while recovering from a broken bone in his hand. The White Sox might feel that the collection of Adam Engel, Trayce Thompson, Leury Garcia and Daniel Palka might be enough to get them through those injuries. But the results have not been great from that group. Engel and Thompson are both hitting under .200, while Leury Garcia and Palka have on-base percentages just above .300.

Presley, like Saunders, could be an option for a midseason promotion should he hit well in the minors. He hit .314 with a .354 on-base percentage in those 71 games with the Tigers last season. This year, he was playing in the Baltimore Orioles’ organization, where he hit .275 with a .347 on-base percentage in 26 games.

It’s possible we won’t see either veteran outfielder on the South Side this season (though having Presley here for Elvis Night would be pretty excellent), but it gives the White Sox options should the lack of production from their current crop of outfielders and the injuries to Avisail Garcia and Delmonico keep them out longer.

It’s also quite possible that none of the names mentioned to this point will have a role to play in this team’s long-term future, not an outlandish thought considering Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford and Luis Alexander Basabe are all still developing in the minor leagues.