Impeccable major league sources have confirmed to me tonight that the Cubs and Dodgers, who were trying to complete a deal for Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, have reached a stalemate in their trade talks, with the Dodgers refusing to increase their offer and the Cubs refusing to lower their demands.
Those same sources also confirmed to me that the Dodgers believe that after Dempster refused to approve a trade to the Braves, the animosity that decision created will force the Cubs to trade him by the July 31st deadline.
However, two major league executives that I spoke with tonight who have dealt with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer numerous times told me that there is no way that the new Cubs front office will cave in and trade Dempster to the Dodgers for less than what they believe is an appropriate package.
"Dempster will have to answer some tough questions if he is still a Cub after the deadline. That will be one press conference I would want to see. He will have to explain to the fans why he chose to stay on a team that is going nowhere when he could have been in Atlanta and possibly pitching in the playoffs. That will be interesting to hear," one executive told me.
In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.
Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.
Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.
The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.
Mitch Trubisky is expected to have a breakthrough season in 2018 with all the firepower the Chicago Bears added on offense. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and Trey Burton will give the second-year quarterback a variety of explosive targets to generate points in bunches.
None of the headline-grabbing moves will matter, however, if the offensive line doesn't do its job.
According to Numberfire.com, the Bears' starting five could be the offense's Achilles heel. They were ranked 21st in the NFL and described as poor in pass protection.
Last year, the Bears ranked 26th in Sack NEP per drop back and 23rd in sack rate. These issues were especially apparent after Trubisky took over. In the games that [Kyle] Long played, their sack rate was 8.2%. It was actually 7.2% in the games that he missed. They struggled even when Long was healthy.
The Bears added Iowa's James Daniels in the second round of April's draft and he's expected to start at guard alongside Long. Cody Whitehair will resume his role as the starting center, with Charles Leno, Jr. and Bobby Massie at offensive tackle.
If Long comes back healthy and Daniels lives up to his draft cost, they should be a good run-blocking team from the jump. But Long has played just 18 games the past two years and is entering his age-30 season, so that's far from a lock. On top of that, the pass blocking was suspect last year and remains a mystery entering 2018.
The biggest addition to the offensive line is Harry Hiestand, the accomplished position coach who returns to Chicago after once serving in the same role under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. He most recently coached at Notre Dame and helped develop multiple first-round picks. He's going to have a huge impact.
The good news for the Bears is they weren't the lowest-ranked offensive line in the NFC North. The Vikings came in at No. 25. The Packers checked-in at No. 13, while the Lions were 16th.