Notes: Cubs limp home knowing help is on the way


Notes: Cubs limp home knowing help is on the way

By Jose M. Romero Contributor

PHOENIX -- Its only a matter of time before Cubs management can wait no longer and make the call to bring up Anthony Rizzo from the minors to try and provide a boost for a team in desperate need of one.

The arrival of Rizzo could happen as soon as Monday, though no one is saying when it will actually take place.

I dont know what the date is or what reinforcements were going to get. Obviously we know were going to get one, manager Dale Sveum said after Sundays 5-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Players didnt seem to so concerned about when Rizzo joins them, but rather their need to keep on trying to win games.

I dont control that. The only thing I can control is what I can do with 60 feet, 6 inches, pitcher Matt Garza said. Im not too worried about whats going to happen, whos coming, whos not coming. Im just ready to play with 24 guys in this clubhouse and build a wall with them.

Castro, Soriano are best All-Star bets, Sveum says

The Cubs will get one NL All-Star, and the players with the best chance are shortstop Starlin Castro (.304 batting average, 28 multi-hit games, 14-for-35 in past eight games) and outfielder Alfonso Soriano (.269, 14 HR, 44 RBI), who homered Sunday as one of his two hits.

Those are probably the two guys youre targeting. Theyre having the best year, Sveum said. Theyre probably neck-and-neck right there as far as that goes.

Soriano is a seven-time All-Star; Castro represented the Cubs last season.

DeJesus digs hitting at Chase Field

David DeJesus went 4-for-5 Saturday night to tie a career-high for hits in a game. So did Starlin Castro, and it marked the second time since July 21, 2003, when Tom Goodwin and Mark Grudzielanek did it, that Chicagos No. 1 and 2 hitters put together 4-for-5 games.

DeJesus said the climate-controlled Chase Field, where wind like the one blowing in at Wrigley Field is never a factor, makes it much easier to hit the ball in Phoenix.

The big night for DeJesus could be a sign that hes coming out of a slump that saw him hit .164 throughout June until Saturday, even though he was 0-for-4 on Sunday and struck out with runners in scoring position in the top of the eighth.

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. might be in the middle of a breakout season. The 24-year-old outfielder continues to show his impressive range in center field and is having his best year at the plate.

In Sunday's 8-3 win against the Giants, Almora had three hits and showed off his wheels in center to rob Evan Longoria of extra bases. The catch is visible in the video above.

"Defensively, right now he's playing as well as he possibly can," Maddon said.

On top of the defense he has become known for, he is hitting .326. That's good for fifth in the National League in batting.

"He's playing absolutely great," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's working good at-bats. His at-bats have gotten better vs. righties.

"The thing about it, is there's power there. The home runs are gonna start showing up, too."

There's also this stat, which implies Almora is having a growing significance on the Cubs as a whole:

There may be some correlation, but not causality in that. However, with Almora's center field play and growing accolades at the plate, the argument is becoming easier and easier that he is one of the most important players on the Cubs. That also goes for Almora's regular spot in the lineup, which has been up in the air with Maddon continuing to juggle the lineup.

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”