Bears

Ozzie sees MVP potential in Castro

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Ozzie sees MVP potential in Castro

MIAMI After Starlin Castro saw the World Series rings the St. Louis Cardinals received, he thought about how good one of those would look with a Cubs logo.

Even though the Cubs shortstop plays for a franchise burdened by history, he looks at the game in terms of: Why not?

Ozzie Guillen knows as well as anyone what its like to play shortstop in Chicago, and the expectations that come with that. The Miami Marlins manager sees a 22-year-old with the potential to win some serious hardware.

Can he win the MVP? Yes, because he can do a lot of things offensively, Guillen said Wednesday. The tools are there. I hope its going to be my guy (Hanley Ramirez). But this kid definitely is going to be one of the top players in the National League. Theres no doubt.

Castro began the day hitting .372 with seven RBIs in 11 games. He was tied for the major-league lead in steals with seven, a sign of how his game has evolved.

Castro already has two .300 seasons on his resume. Ramirez, by comparison, was 22 during his rookie year in the majors.

This kid is going to have a chance to make a lot of money, Guillen said. In Chicago, people talk about the mistakes he made a couple years ago and other stuff, not being in the game (mentally).

Thats going to come from the process. But youre not going to see many kids come to the big leagues and do what this kid does on the field hit for power, average, steal bases. I mean youre 20-something years old and youre batting third with no problem, with confidence? That comes with talent.

Dont take that for granted. Some will talk about Castro eventually switching positions, because he committed 56 errors in his first two seasons combined, plus four more already this month. But thats selling him short.

The Cubs have the rare opportunity to build their team around an elite shortstop for the next decade.

This kids only 22 years old. I mean, are you going to have the full package right away as a player? Guillen said. You got to give him some time. Hes got a great arm. Hes got very good instincts. Hes going to make errors. You cut errors with experience.

There are good errors and bad errors. (You) got to cut the bad errors, mental errors. But the physical errors are going to be there because hes so talented. Hes going to get balls nobody can get.

Guillen laughed when he thought of one more reason to like Castros upside.

Hes got a great chance to be a great one not a good one, Guillen said before smiling. Plus, hes No. 13. Thats going to help.

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

The Chicago Bears have completely flipped the narrative of their 2019 season over the last three weeks, thanks in large part to Matt Nagy's offense finally resembling the 202-level that was promised last summer.

It may have taken quarterback Mitch Trubisky a little longer than expected to arrive this year, but if his last two games are an indication of his development in his second season under Nagy's tutelage, the Bears have a bonafide quarterback. And it's been a while since that could be said.

"Mitchell Trubisky is hot, there's no doubt about it," NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said Thursday. "He seems so much more comfortable. Decisive. He's accurate with the football. Running around at the proper time. I don't think it was all Mitchell Trubisky's fault with the struggles of the offense, either."

Those struggles spanned the first half of 2019 when Chicago seemed incapable of sustaining drives or scoring points. It began with Week 1's three-point output against the Packers and continued through Thanksgiving Day when Trubisky finally got his mojo back, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

With Trubisky clicking, and the running game receiving a jolt from rookie David Montgomery's productive back-to-back weeks in which he's averaged more than four yards per carry in successive games for the first time all year, the Bears appear capable of beating just about anyone. 

They'll need to. If Chicago wants to keep their weak playoff pulse going, they have to win-out. And that includes games against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings. 

The odds seem stacked against them, and it's their own fault. It took way too long to get the offense going, but it's better late than never. 

According to Simms, the Bears are that team no one wants to play.

"They're a dangerous team right now. They really are."

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

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