Bears

Steve Stone's mailbag: Will Ozzie stay or go?

Steve Stone's mailbag: Will Ozzie stay or go?

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010
4:56 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag toanswer your questions about Ozzie Guillen, Darwin Barney, maple bats and more!

Adam Highland, IN: Now that the Sox are eliminated from playoff contention, what do you think is the most important thing for them to do over the offseason to make sure theyre back in the playoff hunt next year?

Steve Stone: In order of importance, the main thing is to resolve the Ozzie situation where they know who is going to manage this team and then make plans on how to go forward from there. I think one of the things they would like is a left-hand difference maker, a guy who can produce some runs for them. I think they are going to have to make a decision on who is going to close, they have to find out if Brent Morel at third is a viable situation or if he needs a little more minor league seasoning along with making decisions with Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski, who are both free agents after this season. So a lot of work for the Sox.

Trevor - Chicago, IL: What do you make of all the rumors surrounding Ozzie? Do you think he could end up in Miami?

Stone: I think Ozzie could end up anywhere and just as well end up in the dugout with the White Sox. I think it has been made clear by Kenny Williams, he can do what he wants to do. The ball is in Ozzie's court - does he want to stay or does he want to go is the question.

Cathy Peoria, IL: In light of the broken bat incident involving Tyler Colvin, what is your opinion on maple bats? Should baseball get rid of them?

Stone: I think there probably is a less radical solution than banning maple bats form the game. It might have something to do with either a rubberized or some kind of coating, so when they break they don't explode into the stands or infield. That is something that has to be worked on and it they cant find a resolution, if they cant find a way to stop them from literally exploding, they may have to look at the radical step. Hitters seem to like them, they are lively and at least for the moment, they will be part of the game and usually, there is a solution on how to work this out without taking that next step of a complete ban.

Kevin Chicago, IL: Which of the Cubs late season call-ups has impressed you the most? Do you think any of them could be on the roster next season?

Stone: I think Darwin Barney has a legitimate shot as a very good swing player in the Majors. Not sure if there is a definitive place for him but he is someone who can play None of them really jump out at you. I believe a lot of the team for next year is settled if you consider you will keep Marlon in center which I assume you want to do. For most of the year he has hit .300 though it has slipped below that. Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez are coming back, Starlin Castro very promising. First seems to have an opening. The Cubs have a lot of questions to answer in solidifying their bullpen and perhaps one starting pitcher, depending on the Carlos Zambrano situation. They do have some talent but a lot that isn't quite ready yet.

Sean - Chicago, IL: Who do you think wins the NL West?

Stone: It's a tremendous race boiling down to San Francisco and San Diego - the final games are between them in San Francisco. It appears at this point with San Diego just a half a game back but tied in the loss column, but seems the winner will win the West. I like the Giants pitching a bit better, as far as hitting, they are both pretty much challenged as scoring is concerned. San Diego has proved a good road team, 8 games over and San Francisco is 15 games over at home. I think San Francisco wins the division but if they do, it will be by an eyelash.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: