Cubs

Stone: Girardi best candidate for Cubs job

Stone: Girardi best candidate for Cubs job

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010
3:50 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag toanswer your questions about the Cubs' managerial opening, Victor Martinez, Tyler Flowers and more!

John - Chicago, IL: Now that the season is over, who do you think is the front-runner for the Cubs job?

Steve Stone: I still believe the same thing that I mentioned three months ago and that is that the best candidate for the next manager of the Chicago Cubs is Joe Girardi. This is not meant to denigrate the job Quade did but my feeling is if you sat down and listed every qualification you could want in a manager for the Cubs, I believe that the logical conclusion would be that the man who fills every qualification would be Joe Girardi.
Rebecca - Bolingbrook, IL: Do the Cubs have a shot at Victor Martinez? He would look awfully good at first base for us.

Stone: Victor Martinez would look good wherever he was, wherever the Cubs use him assuming you understand he is better for the right side than the left. That being said, he is occasionally behind the plate or at first base, Victor would be a wonderful addition to the Cubs' ball club but you have to understand probably one being well known, that being that the Red Sox having Victor and Beltre as free agents, Martinez would be the cheaper of the two options and so they are more likely to get a deal done with him. One thing that can't be underestimated, Victor Martinez is exceptional in the clubhouse. He would be a team leader on a team desperately looking for a leader.

Roger - Palatine, IL: Do you see Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski back with the White Sox next season?
Stone: I believe the White Sox are going to attempt to bring them both back and the rest comes down to business decisions, how much are you willing to allocate and how much do each of these individuals want. It always comes down to money and years. Paul will have to decide and then the rest will play itself out in due time.

Dave - Westmont, IL: Where do you think Tyler Flowers fits into the White Sox organization? Can he be the starter next season?

Stone: Everything really depends on what happens with A.J. If you bring him back, the combo of him and Ramon Castro which did so well this year is something they could live with next year which complicates things for Flowers. As far as being a starter, I really don't know, I haven't seen enough as far as catching is concerned. Buddy Bell and very good talent evaluator gave him a thumbs up in the minors for his catching.

Roberto - Chicago, IL: Do you like the idea of starting the season earlier next year, thus having an earlier World Series?

Stone: I like the idea of an earlier World Series, I don't know how delighted we will be with the season opening April 1st. Weather problems in the East and West; I don't think you can continue the World Season ending close to November, so next year they will experiment, I think there are more down the road and we will have to see how this particular early season goes. We do know it will be cold and there will be some that are snowed out - there usually are. It depends if it's a very wet early spring but that will be hard to tell not having my farmers almanac handy.

Potential Kris Bryant trade market becomes clearer after Anthony Rendon lands with Angels

Potential Kris Bryant trade market becomes clearer after Anthony Rendon lands with Angels

The first domino of this offseason’s third base market has fallen.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, free agent Anthony Rendon is set to sign a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Texas Rangers were also linked to Rendon in recent days, but they’ll now have to shift their focus elsewhere. Texas’ attention is now on the other superstar free agent third baseman — Josh Donaldson — as MLB.com’s TR Sullivan reported. The same can be said about Rendon’s former team, the Washington Nationals.

This leads us to the Cubs and Kris Bryant. With Rendon off the board and Donaldson soon to follow, a potential trade market for the Cubs third baseman is growing clearer.

Only one of the Rangers and Nationals can sign Donaldson, not to mention his most recent team — the Atlanta Braves. When Donaldson’s domino falls, two of these teams will be left empty-handed in their pursuit of a third baseman.

The Los Angeles Dodgers also were linked to Rendon, though they don’t necessarily need a third baseman with Justin Turner manning the hot corner. Their pursuit of Rendon points to how they’re willing to shift Turner off third base, however. Add them to the list of teams seeking third base help.

Add that all up, and you have four teams in the market for Donaldson. The Cubs aren’t guaranteed to trade Bryant, but they’ll soon find themselves with some leverage. For the three teams that don’t land Donaldson, the most logical move will be to inquire with the Cubs about trading for Bryant.

Bryant’s unresolved grievance case will be an issue in any potential negotiations. The difference between two years of control (if he loses) and one (if he wins) is big when it comes to his value. Even though they’ll have leverage over interested teams, the Cubs will yield stronger trade proposals for Bryant if he loses his case.

But, again, a trade is no certainty. What is certain is teams will be inquiring about Bryant in the not-so-distant future, once Donaldson chooses his free agent destination.

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

The Bulls picked up a valuable get-right win in a 136-102 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. Observations from a game the Bulls had to win, and did handily:

The bench provided a spark (again)

Bulls starters not named Zach LaVine got off to a sluggish start in this one. At the 3:14 mark of the first, the Hawks led 29-21 and were shooting a scalding 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field (3-for-6 from 3-point range). LaVine had 12 of the Bulls’ 21 points.

The hosts ended the period ahead 37-33, buoyed by a 16-4 run by a bench unit of Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Denzel Valentine, Thad Young, and Daniel Gafford. Valentine hit four floaters over that stretch, Gafford had a resounding block, White had a strong and-one take over Alex Len and Thad Young tallied five points, for good measure. 

Bench runs have become commonplace for this Bulls team, even in the midst of a three-game losing streak. This one carried over into the second quarter, which the Bulls won 29-19, holding Atlanta to 6-for-21 (28.6%) shooting, 2-for-10 (20%) from three. They didn't look back from there.

Young finished the first half with nine points, four rebounds, and two assists. White had a flashy night — tallying 19 points. Valentine and Gafford connected on a handful of alley-oops (which has quickly become a tradition).

Zach LaVine bounced back

LaVine — averaging 20 points on 33.3% shooting during the team’s three-game losing streak — was ripe for a breakout, and this Hawks team (29th in the NBA in defensive rating) presented an opportunity to bounce back. He took advantage.

As mentioned, LaVine carried the Bulls offense early: he had 18 first-half points on 7-for-9 shooting. Embedded in that line were a few highlight-reel dunks that awoke the United Center:

He tacked on a cool 17 (!) in the third quarter before coming out with the game out of reach for the Hawks. LaVine finished the night leading all scorers with 35 points and shot a staggering 7-for-7 from 3-point range. When he’s on, it’s too much fun, and he dazzled in this one. 

In a favorable matchup, the defense kept rolling

Coming into this game, we knew the Bulls defense, theoretically, matched up well with Atlanta’s offense plan of attack. For the most part, that bore out, in practice.

Kris Dunn was outstanding in containing Trae Young tonight, hounding him off of every screen (where he was usually aided by a hedge from the big in coverage) and staying attached even in instances when Young was able to penetrate.

Young didn’t score until the 11:07 mark in the second quarter and finished the night with 15 points on 4-for-14 shooting (1-for-6 from three) and seven turnovers. This is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA we’re talking about here. He did rack up 13 assists (six in the first quarter) — and some were very, very pretty — but most of those came in transition. In the halfcourt, the Bulls’ set defense effectively bottled him up.

The Hawks, as a team, committed 23 turnovers on the night, which the Bulls were able to convert into 15 points. Atlanta is an inferior opponent, yes, but it was a strong showing, nonetheless.

Blowouts are fun

This one was a little too close for comfort early on but ended in a rout. The Bulls simply outclassed the Hawks, winning statistical categories this team has often been overmatched in, from rebounds (42-40) to points in the paint (78-42), to blocks (7-4), to the 3-point battle. Lauri Markkanen even utilized garbage time to turn a fine stat line into a good one: he had 10 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting. 

So, you know what? Rest your brain with some of the best clips of the night. You’ve earned it:

 

 

 

 

The Bulls can push questions about fourth-quarter stagnation, cold shooting streaks, and crowded rotations until this weekend. This was a solid overall performance.

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