Steve Stone mailbag: Time to worry about Sox?


Steve Stone mailbag: Time to worry about Sox?

Friday, Aug. 13, 2010
1:30 PM
Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer your questions about the White Sox's recent struggles, the chances the Cubs trade Carlos Zambrano, and more!
Yosef B., Rochester, N.Y. -- With the White Sox recent struggles this past week or two, is this anything that we should worry about? What do the Sox have to do to regain their contender-style play?

Steve Stone: First of all, it's unrealistic to assume in a 30-game stretch that a team will win 25 again, which is what happened. As far as the recent lull, they won four of their last 10, which is two games worse than Minnesota, who won six of their last 10, hence the one game lead Minnesota enjoys in the Central. They won't be as hot as before, but they should be good enough to contend and possibly win down the stretch. If they continue to catch the baseball, they will be in fairly good shape. If they are better than Minnesota, then they will win; if not, they will lose. And on the realistic side of things, that's the way things are in baseball.

Frank T., St. Charles -- Has any full-time player ever had more RBIs than hits for a season? I can't find anyone -- Harmon Killebrew came close and Carlos Quentin so far is in the running.

Steve Stone: I have really no idea seeing as I don't have any books that talk about hits and runs batted in over the course of the season. It's safe to say Carlos is a run producer and their batting averages are fairly irrelevant because you look to them to hit home runs. Despite his batting average coming into today of .232, he has 24 homers and 76 driven in and it becomes a fairly impressive offensive year. Again, I would rather have him hit .232 and be on a pace to drive in 100 than hitting .300 and driving in 40 runs.

Chad S., Chicago -- Steve, do you think the Cubs will be able to trade Carlos Zambrano this winter?

Steve Stone: It all depends on how much of his salary they are willing to eat and how he looks in the games the Cubs have left. The Cubs have played 115 games right now, so they have 47 left and it depends on how he looks in his starts in those games. If he looks good, they might be able to trade him, but he is not going to resemble the 19 million pitcher that the Cubs thought he would be before he started breaking Gatorade containers, having confrontations with the umpires, fighting teammates, etc. I think they will do anything in their power to get him off the team. That being said, they could very well be stuck with him another year or two.

Hugh J., Chicago -- Does Andrew Cashner have a future as a starter? If he does, will he have to dial back his fastball into the low-to-mid 90's?

Steve Stone: I think the Cubs dearly need some bullpen help and they probably want to use Cashner in that role. He has a great fastball, but he is struggling this first year with 1-5 record and a 5.68 ERA. The walk total is way too high and it depends on what the Cubs think, but I have to see more types of pitches and offspeed pitches to move into that starting position. For the moment and into next year, the best case is to grow into that premiere setup man stage, perhaps to be a closer.

Mike B, Oswego -- With the wealth of information on sites like Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, what stats do you use to evaluate players and make predictions?

Steve Stone: I use my eyes. I'm in my fifth decade, and those who solely rely on computers usually come up a little short. Those who have been around the game a long time and who have seen every type of player, we really depend on our eyes to show us what kind of player you are dealing with. A man's ability to play on a division-contending team, you can't find that into a computer because some guys have never played on a winning team. It's the same reason I wouldn't let anyone do open-heart surgery on his first day, even if he was the top med student coming out of Harvard, the best heart surgeon they had ever seen. I prefer the experienced guy that has done 5,000 of these, and no matter what happens on the table, he has seen it before. The computer is a nice tool but you can't replace the eyes of a veteran baseball evaluator because, at the end of the day, the computer doesn't have eyes.

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

The Blackhawks are spending the next week focusing on their prospects at development camp, but GM Stan Bowman took care of some housekeeping items on the big club on Tuesday when he traded forward Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Zack Smith.

"First off, Arty was a great Blackhawk," Bowman said on Tuesday. "We wish him well. I think stylistically they play different games. Both veterans, both have played in the league for a long time. I think Zack brings a different skill set to the table, something that we probably need a little bit more of. He certainly plays with a competitive side to him, plays with an edge. He's had some years in the past where he's scored a lot but I think the thing we like about his game is the versatility and you notice him. He's tough to play against out there."

Anisimov had two years left on his contract that carries a $4.55 million cap hit, but his modified no-trade clause was removed on July 1, which opened up more trade possibilities. He was also owed a $2 million signing bonus when the new calendar year opened and his actual salary over the next two years dropped to $5 million total, giving a rebuilding team like the Senators a chance to add a depth forward for a lower price.

Couple that with the fact Anisimov's role with the Blackhawks has diminished over the years and you can see why this traded was made from Chicago's point of view.

Smith compiled 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 70 games for the Senators last season, and served as the alternate captain during the 2017-18 campaign. He's known to be a power forward, can play a heavy game and has experience playing center or wing. The 31-year-old has two years left on his contract that carries a cap hit of $3.25 million. 

With the trade, the Blackhawks opened up $1.3 million in cap space, which gives them some financial breathing room to make transactions throughout the season and potentially re-sign Brendan Perlini, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent.

"I think that was part of the deal as well," Bowman said." A benefit. We do save a little bit on the cap. We still have a little bit of work to do there, but we're looking better now than we were yesterday."

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Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

USA Today

Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

Pro Football Focus doesn’t seem to expect much regression for the Bears defense, at least when it comes to run defense.

PFF analyst Mike Renner ranked every team’s ability to stop the ground game, heading into 2019, and Chicago remains on top.

The team retained its entire front seven, top-to-bottom, with the exception of Sam Acho, who spent most of last season on injured reserve anyway.

One of the biggest keys, in Renner’s analysis, is Akiem Hicks, who was among Pro Football Focus’ top performers in the running game.

“The former Saint is proving himself one of the best free agent additions in recent memory,” Renner wrote. “His 13.3 run-stop percentage was the second-highest figure of any interior defender in the NFL last season.”

The Bears allowed the fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns of any defense last season, and the 3.8 yards per attempt they gave up was fourth best.

With the whole gang back together for 2019, the team is in a great spot to run it back under Chuck Pagano.