Bears

Ian Stewart is having a rough go of it

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Ian Stewart is having a rough go of it

When the Cubs traded for Ian Stewart in early December, it was seen as a low-risk, high-reward move for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.

After all, Stewart was a former first-round pick that hit 53 homers for the Rockies from 2008-10. The Cubs needed a third baseman and Stewart could be had for cheap after struggling badly in 2011, hitting just .156 in 136 at-bats with zero home runs.

But somehow, Stewart's numbers are just as bad to start 2012.

After hitting a three-run homer in St. Louis April 13, the 27-year-old third baseman is just 4-for-49 (.082 AVG) with only one extra-base hit and three walks. That equates to a sickening .237 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 13 games.

To be fair, Stewart has been incredibly unlucky this year. Against the Phillies on Sunday, he hit a couple balls really hard, just right at guys. The same thing happened April 20 against the Reds. Stewart was 0-for-4, but had four hard-hit balls and nothing to show for it.

His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is just .196 this season, almost 100 points lower than his career average of .291. That is just beyond unlucky. Only seven major-league players boast a lower BABIP, including Marlon Byrd and sluggers Jose Bautista and Eric Hosmer.

Theo and Hoyer said prior to the season that Stewart was going to get every opportunity to turn things around. He was going to get 400-500 at-bats regardless. His defensive numbers at third leave a little bit to be desired, but he's still better than Aramis Ramirez has been the past few years.

Should the Cubs keep playing Stewart at third? Of course. They really don't have any other options. Top third base prospect Josh Vitters is far from ready, as he is struggling with a .618 OPS in his first season in Triple-A.

Beyond that, the Cubs have Blake DeWitt, Joe Mather and Jeff Baker in the majors. While all three of those guys are productive bench players, none of them has the upside Stewart has and none figures to be the answer at third.

Baseball is a game that evens out over time. If Stewart keeps hitting the ball hard, he will eventually find some holes. Even-tempered Dale Sveum is the perfect manager to make sure Stewart doesn't get too down.

Sveum and the Cubs figure to stick with Stewart at third base. One of these days, his luck will finally turn and he'll go 4-for-4.

Why the Bears need to re-sign Danny Trevathan for 2020 and beyond

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USA Today

Why the Bears need to re-sign Danny Trevathan for 2020 and beyond

Inside the Soldier Field locker room Sunday, Bears linebacker Josh Woods saw Danny Trevathan and went to go offer his sympathies to his injured mentor. 

“Damn, bro, I’m sorry,’” Woods told Trevathan. 

“I’ll be alright,” Trevathan responded. “It’s a piece of cake.”

Trevathan’s response after suffering a gruesome, potentially season-ending injury tells you a lot about who he is — and why he’s so universally respected and liked inside Soldier Field and Halas Hall. 

Piece of cake. That injury — don’t look up the images of it if you’re squeamish — is a piece of cake? 

“That’s just the type of guy he is,” Woods said, nodding to Trevathan's relentless positivity. 

Coach Matt Nagy said Thursday the Bears haven’t made a decision yet on whether or not to place Trevathan on injured reserve, which would end his season (the Bears have, occasionally, waited until the day before a game to put a player on injured reserve). Since Trevathan is a free agent after this year, it could end his career in Chicago, too. 

But near the top of Ryan Pace’s offseason to-do list — beneath addressing his quarterbacks, of course — should be doing everything he can to get Trevathan back in 2020 and beyond. 

“It’s one of those things, either it’s there or it’s not,” Pierre-Louis said of Trevathan’s leadership qualities. “Does it make all the difference, depending on the chemistry of the team? It can. But it’s definitely something that no matter what team you’re on you’re going to notice if it’s gone or not.” 

Trevathan will be 30 next year and does have a history of injuries (he’s only played a full 16-game season twice in his eight-year career). But he was playing some of the best football of his career prior to his injury against the Detroit Lions, and inside linebackers in general can still play at a high level in the NFL into their 30’s. 

The Bears, though, could probably replace what Trevathan does on the field (just as they could with most players not named Khalil Mack or Akiem Hicks). But what would be incredibly difficult to replace would be Trevathan’s impact as a leader on a team that touts its strong culture and lack of “turds,” as Nagy put it in training camp. 

“It’s a presence,” Pierre-Louis said. “He holds a presence and that’s not always a skill thing. Sometimes, either you got it our you don’t. He has it.”

Trevathan’s leadership can show up in different ways. It can mean taking a young player under his wing and showing him how to act like a pro in the NFL, as he’s done with Woods. It can mean setting the tone inside Halas Hall during a four-game losing streak. It can mean galvanizing his teammates in a critical late-game situation. 

And that leadership matters because it’s always two things: First, authentic; and second, positive. 

“A lot of guys lead by example, but coaches, offensive players, defensive guys know when Danny speaks, you listen,” Woods said. “You know? He’s not like one of those leaders that’s like an a—hole or anything. He’s a great guy. When he speaks, it’s positive. It’s always positive reinforcement.”

The Bears’ defense may struggle to recover from losing Trevathan after already being without Hicks, who’s on injured reserve after suffering his own gruesome elbow injury in Week 5. Those two players, more than anyone else, have been the heart and soul of this defense for years — they each arrived in Chicago in 2016, experiencing both the highs of winning the NFC North and the lows of a 3-13 season. They're the Bears' two most vocal leaders on and off the field. 

Hicks will still be in Chicago in 2020. But if the Bears want to give themselves the best chance of having another championship-level defense, they’d do well to make sure Trevathan is still here, too. 

“His presence, his poise, his leadership,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “He’s out in front of the huddle. He makes all the calls. He’s got the helmet communication. All that stuff, besides being the player that he is and the calming force that he is. You just don’t replace guys like that.”

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Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA quarterfinal round edition of High School Lites, this Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Can Marist beat Loyola twice on the road in the span of a few weeks? Can Minooka stun Brother Rice on Chicago's South Side? Can Batavia get some revenge against Nazareth Academy? Who do you have winning the unofficial Prep Bowl between Phillips and Mount Carmel? Who wins the Fox Valley Super Bowl between Cary Grove and Prairie Ridge?

Class 8A

(23) Marist at (18) Loyola Academy, 12:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from Week 9 as Marist (7-4) defeated Loyola (8-3) 14-6 to earn the Redhawks a playoff bid. Marist head coach Ron Dawczak has relied on senior QB Hayden Mikesell, a steady running game and a big offensive line led by junior Pat Coogan. The Redhawks defense has been strong in the postseason as well. They're led by senior LB Colin Bohanek (EIU). Loyola is coming off a come from behind 28-27 win over Glenbard West. In that game, the Ramblers' running game got on track behind RB Vaughn Pemberton. The passing game remains solid with junior QB J.T. Thomas and his main target WR Matty Mangan. Can Marist beat Loyola twice within a month in Wilmette? 

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 27 Marist 17

(1) Minooka at (24) Brother Rice, 5:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Minooka (11-0), with Hall of Fame head coach John Belskis, will rely on a strong running game to keep the Crusaders offense off the field. Minooka senior QB Seth Lehr is a steady signal caller and leader for the Indians. Senior OL/DL Jacob Shipla and RB Noah Ellens are solid as well. Defensively, keep an eye on junior FB/LB Zach Wingerder, senior DB Ernesto Ramirez and senior DB/WR Steven Gonzales. Brother Rice (7-4) has been able to overcome various injuries while still winning games. Coach Brian Badke and his staff have settled on sophomore QB John Lausch to run the offense while junior RB Willie Shaw has been a major impact player out of the backfield. The 'Rice 'D is also a strength. Watch for senior DL/LB Justin Jefferson, senior DT Denver Warren, senior S Giacomo Iraci and sophomore LB Myles Jones. The best match up is in the trenches: Minooka's O-line against Rice's D-line. 

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 27 Brother Rice 21

Class 7A

(8) Phillips at (1) Mount Carmel, 1:00 p.m. #SENDEDGY

EDGY's Take: The unofficial Prep Bowl takes place on Saturday at Mount Carmel in a game that's been highly anticipated for the past handful of years. Phillips (10-1) will feature QB Antonio Brown to run the Wildcats offense and senior WR/S Ronald Pledger has been a key playmaker for coach Troy McAllister and company. Mount Carmel (11-0) head coach Jordan Lynch features a ball control offense led by junior QB Justin Lynch. Junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga has been strong all season long. Senior OL/DL Jalen Grant leads the Caravan offensive and defensive line. Can Phillips get the football back from the Caravan offense on Saturday? Can the Mount Carmel defense avoid giving up the big play against Phillips?
 
EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 21 Phillips 14

(7) Batavia at (2) Nazareth, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from last year's 7A semifinal, where Nazareth defeated Batavia 47-28; the Roadrunners wound up winning the state title. Batavia (9-2) is back once again, making a deep November run behind a strong running game led by senior RB Art Taylor and senior RB/LB Quinn Urwiler (North Dakota). The Bulldogs' defense is always fast and physical. Junior LB Matt "Mojo" Weerts is a name to watch along with senior S Sam Barus. Nazareth's offense is centered on Michigan commit J.J. McCarthy. This quarterback's main target has been junior WR Tyler Morris. The Roadrunners 'D also has talent. Keep an eye on junior DE/OL Ryan Keeler, senior LB Marcus Griffin (GVSU), senior ILB Riley Theobald and senior DB Jailon Welch (SIU). Can the Batavia defense slow down and contain the Nazareth spread offense?
  
EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 31 Batavia 28

(5) Willowbrook at (20) Lake Zurich, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Willowbrook (10-1) and head coach Nick Hildreth is in the 7A quarterfinal round for the fourth straight season. A huge part of the Warriors success has been senior QB/DB Sam Tumilty. On offense, he has a nice stable of backs and receivers. Senior Deandre Holliday and RB Ta'Vion Geanes will make plays. Lake Zurich has been playing great defense in the postseason; their offense has been able to generate enough points to keep advancing. Quarterback Jack Moses, senior TE Hunter Welcing (Northwestern), senior WR James Piggott and junior LB Bryan Sanborn are the leaders for the Bears. Can the Lake Zurich defense contain Sam Tumilty on Saturday? Can the Lake Zurich offense get into the end zone a bit more? Should be a good one.

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 14 Willowbrook 13

Class 6A

(6) Cary-Grove at (1) Prairie Ridge, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The annual "Fox Valley Super Bowl" takes things to an even-higher level come Saturday. Cary-Grove lost to rival Prairie Ridge 42-7 back in Week 5 as the Trojans just couldn't get their power run game on track. Cary-Grove will rely on senior FB/LB Blake Skol and senior QB Luke Eleftheriou to move the football and control the clock. Prairie Ridge (10-1) and head coach Chris Schremp will also want to run the football. Can the Wolves' power run game make a statement? The leaders on offense are QB Connor Lydon, FB Kyle Koelblinger and senior RB Blake Brown. Can the Trojans' defense slow down the Prairie Ridge run game? Can the Cary-Grove offensive line have a better showing in this rematch?
 
EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 31 Cary Grove 20

Class 5A

(8) St. Rita at (4) Hillcrest, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Rita (7-4) has been rolling this season. Coach Todd Kuska's crew posted an impressive 32-0 road win last Saturday over Sterling to advance. The Mustangs are getting an All-State caliber season from sophomore RB Kaleb Brown. He's been running behind an offensive line that is always a strength. The Mustangs' defense has been terrific since mid-season. Hillcrest (10-1) head coach Morgan Weaver also has an All-State caliber running back in junior Mar'Kiese Irving, but how healthy will Irving be after leaving in the second quarter in last week's 28-7 win over Fenwick? The Hawks also have playmakers in junior QB Robert Myles and senior RB/DB Darius Dawson. Can Rita's defense slow down the Hillcrest running game and big play potential? Will Mar'Kiese Irving be ready to go on Saturday? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 31 Hillcrest 24

Class 4A

(3) IC Catholic at (2) Richmond-Burton, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: IC Catholic (10-1) is in the midst of another deep postseason run in attempting to defend its 4A state title. Head coach Bill Krefft and the Knights will rely on senior QB Danny Cronin and the big play ability of junior RB Kyle Franklin. This team has strong play on both the offensive and defensive lines. Richmond-Burton (11-0) features veteran head coach Mike Noll. The Rockets are rolling this season behind a big and physical offensive line. FB Dalton Wood is a name to watch along with RB Nick Legnaioli. Don't overlook the air attach. The Rockets are very capable of throwing the football with QB Josh Huber. Can R-B slow down the Knights' balanced offensive attack? Will home field advantage come into play for Richmond-Burton?

EDGY's Pick: IC Catholic 28 Richmond Burton 27

Class 3A

(3) Wilmington at (2) Byron, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Wilmington and Byron are very familiar with each other, having faced off several times the years in the state playoffs. The visiting Wildcats (10-1), with veteran head coach Jeff Reents, will look to run the football. They will rely on RBs Jake Rodewald and Trey Shaw. The latter has been having a very strong postseason. While Wilmington doesn't throw the football a ton, QB Keaton Hopwood was able to show off his passing ability in beating Eureka last Saturday. Byron (10-1) and head coach Jeff Boyer have been on a mission after losing in the 3A state title game last season. The Tigers also want to run the football. RB Isaac Stickler will have his name called often. Same goes for Drake Snodgrass. Senior OL/DL Tyler Elsbury (Iowa) is a force on both sides of the football for the Tigers. Can Wilmington slow down the Byron power run game? Can the Byron defense find the football against the Wilmington offense?

EDGY's Pick: Byron 28 Wilmington 21