Cubs

Leave Devin Hester alone

771370.png

Leave Devin Hester alone

Its a theme that has been put out by the Bears on too many occasions in the past several years.

Devin Hester is going to be a top wide receiver.

Devin Hester is a unique talent.

Devin Hester is having one of the best camps of any Bear.

All of that meant precisely zero in the past, means precisely that now, and it might be the worst thing for Hester.

Maybe its time he was just left alone to beDevin Hester, whatever that is going to be.

Jay Cutler started it on Wednesday:

Devin Hester I think is probably having the best camp of all the receivers.

The camp is two days old. Cutler is certainly eminently qualified to assess performances. But hyping Hester after two days?

It got worse with Brandon Marshall, who one-upped Cutler by stating that Hester will have the best season of any Bears receiver (assuming that only one receiver from a team is likely to earn All-Pro honors):

I honestly think hes going to have an All-Pro year this year at wide receiver.

(If Hester does make All-Pro, it will be with a lot of passes that Marshall probably thought would be coming his direction).

There is nothing remotely wrong with pumping or pubbing up a teammate, believing in him and saying so.

But Hester has gotten so built up at various times Mike Martz had exotic plans for him; now Mike Tice and the Bears have a Hester package planned when the guy simply has a nice season, hes a disappointment.

Maybe the best thing for Hester, a sensitive young man who knows what people say about him, good and bad, would be to just be allowed to be Hester. No best of camp honoree. No All-Pro-in-waiting.

JustHester.

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo: MLB-MLBPA negotiations were 'flat-out embarrassing'

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo: MLB-MLBPA negotiations were 'flat-out embarrassing'

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo pulled no punches Friday describing negotiations between Major League Baseball and the players union to resume play amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I think it's just flat-out embarrassing for me to be searching through Twitter and seeing the updates because that's how fast they got out there," Rizzo told reporters in Friday's Zoom session. "There's a lot of leaks on [MLB's] side, seems like there was leaks whenever we sent in a proposal, to the point where it kind of turned into a joke with the media battle."

The squabbling between MLB and the MLBPA continued into late June before commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally imposed a 60-game season. Rizzo pointed out how billionaires and millionaires fighting over money during a pandemic is a bad look, and many have speculated baseball's fan interest could take a hit in the short- and perhaps long-term.

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

Rizzo believes MLB has an opportunity to capture a new generation of fans during this unique 60-game season, however.

"But when it's all said and done and baseball's on the field and we play with our emotion like we know how to do, that's how we're gonna capture a new fan base through this tough time," he said.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

Tim Anderson leads growing White Sox toward contention: 'He's a man'

Tim Anderson leads growing White Sox toward contention: 'He's a man'

Growing up.

It's what this rebuild is all about.

When you start building from the bottom, the name of the game is acquiring young, talented players, developing them and watching as they, hopefully, start winning baseball games and, eventually, World Series titles. The White Sox, despite the hype, obviously aren't all the way there just yet, unless I somehow missed a parade.

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

But they're getting there. They might be really close. And throughout the roster, players once described as prospects with bright futures have stepped into those futures.

That includes Tim Anderson, who went from a .240 hitter in 2018 to a .335 hitter last year, that batting average high enough to win the big league batting title.

What's next for Anderson remains to be seen — the White Sox and their fans want to see defensive improvement to go along with his big jump at the plate — but the guy running the show is over the moon when it comes to his shortstop and the growing up Anderson's done over the last few years.

"I was watching him a little while ago. Man, he looks so good," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said Friday. "This young man is — he's a man. I think that he's grown so much as a person, as a player. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for him. I'm very, very confident in the maturity that's transpired over the last few years. He's worked extremely hard. I think, and I still believe, that this kid's an All-Star quality type shortstop.

"When I see him working, I see some things that he does, and every day I'm impressed. I expect a lot out of Timmy. More importantly, Timmy expects a lot out of himself. I know he wants perfection, and he's continuing to grow toward that. But this kid's pretty good, and I will continue to say that for as long as I'm here.

"Timmy's a pretty good Major League Baseball player, and I think he's going to be around for a while."

Anderson sees that growth, too, when he looks around the field, and like plenty of fans and observers, he sees this group of White Sox capable of finally making that jump out of rebuilding mode and into contending mode this year.

"I think we all have matured," he said. "As the years pass by, we have all matured and kind of grown into better players. We all had a great season last year. I think it’s just exciting to see us continue to grow and continue to come together as a team and grow as men.

"I think it’s very cool and we have a chance to basically tighten this bond up for the next couple of years to hopefully do something that’s real special."

That jump was supposed to happen this season. With the young core emerging in a big way in 2019 and Rick Hahn's front office going to work over the offseason, bringing in veterans with winning experience, the rebuild was supposed to start bearing winning fruit back in March.

Then the pandemic brought baseball to a screeching halt.

RELATED: White Sox in playoffs? Tim Anderson: 'Something dope can happen in 60 games'

The game is back, for now at least, with the league-branded "Summer Camp" starting Friday morning on the South Side. Finally, the White Sox were back together, again readying for a season of big expectations.

A lot has changed since March, though, both in baseball and in the world, in general. For the White Sox, the 162-game season they were built for and revved up for in March has been squeezed down to a 60-game schedule in a two-month sprint to the postseason.

The next stage of growth for these White Sox — whose most recent regular-season action was the end of an 89-loss season almost 10 months ago — is learning how to win. They thought they'd have six months to figure it out. Instead, they have two.

"'Learning how to win,' I guess that's a really good way of putting it," Renteria said. "Our guys, they've been growing up together. I've been very fortunate to be here to see them growing up, and they've had an opportunity over the last few years now to experience playing at the major league level, going through some ups and downs, learning what they're capable of doing.

"At the end of the day, their talent has to meet the moment and be prepared for it and allow themselves to trust what they're capable of doing."

Should the state of the pandemic allow the 2020 season to get off the ground — the initial testing results Major League Baseball announced Friday were encouraging, with a positive-test rate of only 1.2 percent — we'll find out exactly what they're capable of doing.

But as mentioned, that growth is still happening all over the roster. Anderson, entering his fifth big league season, has grown up. Even Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada have shed the nasty results from their 2018 seasons to arrive at a much better place. But Dylan Cease and Michael Kopech only have a handful of major league starts under their belts. Eloy Jimenez is entering just his second season. Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal have yet to see a major league pitch. And there's more behind them, with last month's first-round draft pick Garrett Crochet already being described as a potential quick mover to the major leagues.

That's part of the plan, of course, for the window to stay propped open for years while the waves of talent continue to reach the South Side and develop into high-end major league players. And so whether the shortened 2020 season features the White Sox finally reaching the playoffs or not, Hahn sees the value in that big-picture goal as guys keep growing.

"We've got a limited sample here. Let's make the most of it from a development standpoint," he said Friday. "Whether that is young guys getting their major league experience under their belt and dealing with whatever adjustments have to happen throughout the league, or teaching some of the guys who have been around here a little bit longer what it takes to win and playing in an intense environment, given the magnitude of each and every game and, ideally, a pennant race down the stretch that will be compelling. So there's going to be a lot of long-term benefits from getting these guys back out here and playing."

RELATED: Michael Kopech absent from White Sox camp, adding another unknown to 2020

But while the growth continues, there's good reason to finally be excited about the present. Anderson sees what's possible, even in this most unusual of seasons, as he looks to keep evolving while the White Sox start winning.

He's not thrilled with his defense, either — he made a combined 88 errors in his first four major league campaigns — and he's looking to put in the same kind of work that turned his offensive fortunes around last year.

"Nothing came natural. I worked to get to where I’m at. But I’m going to continue to work," he said. "That’s a part of my game that’s definitely lacking. It ain’t too far behind, though. I’m getting to where I need to be.

"I’ll continue to work, I’ll continue to get better. I’m going to continue to learn the game. Each and every day, come to the ballpark ready. As I mature and as I grow, it’s going to continue to get better. You’ll see. You have seen it. All aspects of my game.

"As long as I continue to get better, continue to grow and continue to learn and work hard, that will come along as well."

And he won't say no to another batting title, either. Not that it's Priority No. 1, though.

"Hopefully I can get a ring out of it," he said, "and if the batting title comes again, then cool.

"We’ll see what happens at the end of the 60. Hopefully it’s not just 60."


SUBSCRIBE TO THE WHITE SOX TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.