White Sox

Playoff Prognosis: Saints at Seahawks

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Playoff Prognosis: Saints at Seahawks

Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011
10:36 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Seattle Seahawks made dubious NFL history of a sort by becoming that largest home underdog in playoff history when the New Orleans Saints were installed as 10-12-point favorites despite their playoff game being staged in one of the most difficult venues of all for a visiting team.

But when you get in the playoffs, you get one of those hats, and your records not on there, it says Division Champion, said Herm Edwards, ESPN analyst and former NFL player and coach. No one really cares about the below .500 record. We care, but it happened, so now they have to go play.

Good thing for them is that theyre playing at home. Theyre the team that everyone has frowned onThey are a team that has to use their advantage at home. Theyve got to use that crowd.

The reasons for this game shaping up as a Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson situation are pretty simple: Seattle not only is 7-9 but its nine losses have all been by 15 points or more. Seattle did, however, upend two teams with winning records: Chicago and San Diego.

The problem there is that the Seahawks were on their way to a 4-2 start when they put up those victories. When Seattle went to New Orleans in late November, the Seahawks were crushed 34-19 by a Saints team that did not have Reggie Bush, Jeremy Shockey and Pierre Thomas yet still saw Drew Brees throw for 382 yards.

Matt Hasselbeck (hip injury) will start for Seattle, he does have Super Bowl and playoff experience, and he did ring up more than 300 passing yards when the two teams played this season.. But he threw 12 touchdown passes vs. 17 interceptions.

Hasselbeck, 35, could be playing in his final game as a Seahawk. The organization made massive changes starting right from the outset of the offseason, beginning with new head coach Pete Carroll, and the process of coming together has been difficult.

I think the guys weve brought in have really helped us, talented, pros, guys you can count on, Hasselbeck said. Its been kind of fun in a way

New Orleans has taken hits in the running game with injuries to Thomas and Chris Ivory, who combined for 7 rushing touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards. And perhaps most notably, the Saints are one of only three teams in the playoffs with a minus-turnover ratio (minus-6).

Seattle, however, is one of the other two at minus-9. (Indianapolis is the third).

The Seahawks leading rusher, Marshawn Lynch, managed all of 573 yards on the season, the obvious reason why Seattle ranks 31st in rushing yards for 2010. We need to get our running game going, Carroll said. We need to crank it up and he can be a big factor in that as well as the guys up front.

If Brees slips up and commits a turnover or two that hands the Seahawks a short field, the Saints could be in trouble. That may be enough for Seattle to threaten but the firepower even with a New Orleans team speckled with injuries is too much.
New Orleans 27 Seattle 20

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Yoan Moncada has gone from 'strikeout heaven to impactful bat heaven'

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USA TODAY

Yoan Moncada has gone from 'strikeout heaven to impactful bat heaven'

Yoan Moncada is finishing off a breakout season and he has gotten there with a different approach at the plate.

When Moncada came up through the minors and even in his first two years in the majors, he was known for drawing plenty of walks. At every stop of the minors and in each of his first two seasons with the White Sox, Moncada walked in well north of 10 percent of his plate appearances.

This season, which is inarguably his best in the majors, he has 39 walks in 510 plate appearances. After Moncada added three hits in Sunday’s 11-10 loss to the Mariners, he is now hitting .308/363/.537 with 23 home runs, 72 RBIs and 75 runs scored.

Sunday's 3-for-5 game added to his red-hot September. Moncada is hitting .436/.492/.636 in 14 games this month. He's not the only White Sox hitter on fire this month.

Before the game, White Sox manager Rick Renteria talked about Moncada’s different approach.

“He’s going to be a 30-homer type guy,” Renteria said. “I think his on-base percentage is good. I think people look at the numbers in terms of the base-on-balls, the total numbers that are down, but he’s gone from strikeout heaven to impactful bat heaven, so to speak, and I think there’s going to be a balance in between where he’s going to continue to have those walk numbers, on-base numbers and be a pretty significant impactful player as a third baseman.”

That strikeout heaven Renteria referred to is another big difference for Moncada this year. After striking out in 32 percent of his plate appearances in 54 games with the White Sox in 2017 and whiffing a whopping 217 times last year (33.4 percent), Moncada has cut down on that number. He has 139 strikeouts this year, which is down to 27.2 percent.

So the strikeouts have gone down along with the walks. Moncada’s overall numbers are clearly better so it appears the tradeoff has been worth it.

“I think he’s taking into account more situational type things,” Renteria said. “Instead of taking that borderline pitch that they would call a strike, for example, he might be more inclined to create a productive out and drive in a run and put the ball in play.

"It’s more baseball-oriented, not just numbers wise. It’s a baseball situation in which he is now understanding a little bit more, I have a chance to impact this in a positive way. (If) I don’t swing the bat, it’s a called third strike, I’m walking into the dugout and my guys are still out  there on the bases. I got a pitch I can handle, I can still manage. Put the ball in play, score that run and we score another point, it puts us in a better position. Ultimately it’s about scoring runs.”

Renteria emphasized that he didn’t want Moncada chasing pitches as he tries to be more aggressive. However, going after borderline pitches that are hittable instead of trying to work a walk as one of the most dangerous hitters on the team isn’t always the best approach.

“If you look at his at-bats, he’s not a chaser,” Renteria said. “He doesn’t put balls in play that are a foot (outside), he doesn’t do that. There are balls that are manageable, hittable, things that he can either get a base hit out of or put in play to create a particular run. It’s more situational awareness that he’s become better at, which I think has helped him improved some of his numbers offensively.”

In other Moncada news, he got hit by a throw after stealing a base in the seventh inning .The throw bounced and hit Moncada in the side as he was sliding into second. After being in obvious pain, Moncada stayed on the bases, later came around to score and finished the game.

 

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Rizzo hurt as Cubs sweep Pirates

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USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: Rizzo hurt as Cubs sweep Pirates

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss the injury to Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs offense coming alive against the Pirates and the playoff chase with 2 weeks left in the season.

01:00     How worried are you about Rizzo's injury

05:00     Wrigley's reaction to Rizzo's injury

08:00     Bryant leads the Cubs offense against the Pirates

10:00     Heyward's resurgence after moving out of leadoff spot

12:00     Nico Hoerner's looks impressive in first series at Wrigley

15:00     How do Cubs stand with 2 weeks left?

17:00     Cubs have a chance to make up ground with Cardinals playing Nationals

18:30     Brewers staying in race without Yelich

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Cubs Talk Podcast

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