Bears

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.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.