Bulls

Latest Cutler critique iswell, just read it

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Latest Cutler critique iswell, just read it

Whether hes suffering a knee injury, getting through a press conference or throwing footballs, Jay Cutler is nothing if not a figure of discussion.

The latest to weigh in is Greg Cosell, outstanding senior producer over at NFL Films and executive producer of NFL Matchup, who makes a case for Cutler being a top-10 quarterback. The reasoning isinteresting.

The qualifier up front is that anytime someone has to belabor their credentials, pretty good guess that the first point is to establish that they know more than you do because they know their point is shaky. Among Gregs statements:

based on my extensive experience
studying Cutler when he came out of Vanderbilt in 2006
the tape told the story
when you watch as much tape as I do

and thats in just the first four paragraphs.

Anyway, its really about Cutler, who I do believe became an exponentially better quarterback from 2009 to 2010 and again from 2010 to what of 2011 he was able to play.

Neither Greg nor I have a particular rooting interest in Cutlers play. And Greg is absolutely one of the best all-around commentators on the game. Usually.

My take on Cutler is that he is right on the cusp of becoming the best since Sid Luckman and could prove better than the Hall of Famer. But hes not yet. Better passer? Probably. Just not better quarterback.

Greg has focused on Cutlers passing; that badly misses the most important point about a quarterback. Thats like measuring a pitcher by strikeout total or based on a speed gun.

(That said, passer rating does have its uses. The collapse of the 08 Denver team from 8-5 to out of the playoffs can be blamed on the defense. That may be. But with playoffs on the line, Cutler posted three straight games with sub-75 passer ratings. Greg cites one particular rookie pass of Cutlers as a true memory; the guess here is that the Broncos, including Cutler and Brandon Marshall, probably remember those last three games. Marshalls recent comments at OTA said as much.)

Greg basically blames Cutlers career 61.1-percent completion percentage on everyone except Cutler. If your receivers do not win against man coverage, its the quarterbacks fault that sort of thing. Guessing here that Charles Woodson, Deion Sanders and Darrelle Revis would demur but theyre exceptions, too.

And while correctly describing Cutler as a see it, throw it passer who doesnt like to throw before his receiver is breaking open, Greg curiously then blames receivers for not getting open. If they werent open, why did Cutler throw it? That was always the Cutler rub before the last two seasons.

Greg allows that Cutlers ball location can be a little imprecise at times. Yes.

It wasnt the 26 interceptions in 2009 that was the real jaw-dropper, or that so many of them happened in red zones. It was that three of them went to defensive linemen with a combined weight of nearly half a ton. These were not issues of receiver separation. Imprecise. Yes.

Cutler is one of the best pure throwers in the NFL. If there is a more meaningless observation to make about a quarterback Never mind. This is Scouting Combine talk. Tight spiral? Arm strength? Able to throw a ball, while on his knees, through a goal post from 50 yards? Howd that work out? You cannot separate a quarterbacks arm from the brain that tells it where to throw.

In the end, you are what your record says you are. Cutler could be a top-10 quarterback, or even passer, for that matter. Personally, based on the better part of his last 20 games, dating back to the 2010 off week, he was earning a place in the discussion.

He is not yet. And best guess here is that Cutler would agree.

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

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USA TODAY

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

On July 15, Brandon Morrow recorded his 22nd save of the season with a scoreless inning in San Diego. It wound up being the last time he pitched in a game for the Cubs in 2018. 

Four days later, during the All-Star break, the Cubs made a move to bolster their bullpen, acquiring Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league hurler Tyler Thomas. It wasn’t even the biggest trade they’d make with the Rangers that month – a little over a week later they dealt for Cole Hamels. 

Despite pitching nearly half the innings, Chavez was almost as valuable as Hamels.

2018 with Cubs IP fWAR
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.1
Cole Hamels 76.1 1.5

Chavez made his Cubs debut on July 21; from July 21 through the end of the season, 187 pitchers tossed at least 30 innings. 185 of them had a higher ERA than Chavez, while 184 of them allowed more baserunners per 9 innings.

Best ERA, July 21-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP ERA
Blake Treinen 32.1 0.56
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.15
Blake Snell 61.2 1.17
Trevor Bauer 35.0 1.29
Trevor Williams 71.2 1.38
Robert Stock 36.0 1.50

Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, July 32-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP BR/9 IP
Blake Treinen 32.1 5.85
Blake Snell 61.2 7.15
Jesse Chavez 39.0 7.15
Jacob deGrom 93.2 7.49
Scott Oberg 30.2 7.63
Josh Hader 33.1 7.83

But how did Chavez transform into one of Joe Maddon’s best bullpen arms down the stretch?  According to Chavez, his own transformation started on Mother’s Day.

Chavez entered a game in Houston with a 5.48 ERA in a dozen appearances, but pitched three innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts. From that point through the end of the season, he posted a 1.70 ERA and 0.892 WHIP. 

Chavez points to a change in arm slot which resulted in better consistency and a slight jump in velocity. A glance at his release point charts show that consistency, and he added roughly one mile an hour to his fastball.

"It's kept me more consistent in the zone," Chavez said. "Things have been sharper, velocity has been a lot sharper. I was huffing and puffing trying to get a 92 (mph fastball) out there and it wasn't coming.

"Next thing you know, I dropped it and it's right there, and I'm like, 'something's wrong here.' But I just took it and ran with it."

Jesse Chavez 2018 four-seam fastball velocity

  Average Max
Prior to May 13 92.6 mph 94.6 mph
May 13 on 93.6 mph 95.7 mph

Can Chavez be valuable in 2019?  The 35-year old reliever posted the best ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.059) and walk rate (4.5% - nearly two percent better than his previous best) in 2018, and he continued to get better as the season went on. 

He’s a former starter who can pitch multiple innings if needed, and that’s a valuable thing - especially for a manager like Joe Maddon, who uses his pitchers in a variety of ways. It’s unlikely he’ll have a second consecutive career year.

But he’ll likely be well worth the price tag; he only made $1 million in 2018, and even with a slight raise he should be very affordable. There’s definitely room in Maddon’s bullpen for a pitcher like Chavez.