Bulls

Swept by White Sox, Cubs look to shake things up

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Swept by White Sox, Cubs look to shake things up

Maybe the White Sox will use this as a springboard in a division that appears to be wide open. But for the Cubs, this was a lost weekend at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are going back to the drawing board. It was 91 degrees at game time on Sunday, and you got the feeling this could be a long, hot summer at Clark and Addison.

The White Sox climbed back to .500 with a 6-0 win in front of 38,374 fans. The sweep dropped the Cubs to 11 games under, a new low point, even if everyone knew this was going to be a bridge year.

A six-game losing streak had manager Dale Sveum thinking about making changes to the top of the order, moving Starlin Castro out of the No. 3 hole and lobbying for top prospect Anthony Rizzo to be called up from Triple-A Iowa.

Getting swept by the White Sox at home is about as low as youre going to get through a seven-day stretch, Sveum said. You hope that the fans understand and stay patient the rest of the year.

If the city learned anything from this three-game series, it could be that these two teams are heading in opposite directions.

Kerry Wood stole the show with a calculated two-day retirement announcement, and an unexpected, heart-warming moment with his son, hugging Justin and carrying him down the dugout steps.

Chairman Tom Ricketts kept a very low profile after the details of his fathers political activities were leaked to The New York Times. The security concerns about the NATO summit were unfounded.

The rivalry left a mark around Paul Konerkos left eye, but no bad blood between Jeff Samardzija and the White Sox captain. The beanball war never really escalated. Check back next month on the South Side.

We are very disappointed, Alfonso Soriano said, because the way that we play against them is not acceptable.

Soriano is playing through the pain in his left knee, and the Cubs had already made 10 moves on their 25-man roster in four days. They couldnt take advantage of the conditions and tee off the way the White Sox did against Paul Maholm.

We had a lot of opportunity to score a lot of runs with the wind, Soriano said. But sometimes we see the flags like that and were not concentrating and seeing the ball and hitting it. We see the wind and we forget that we have to hit the ball first.

Maholm had spent his entire career in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization until signing with the Cubs last winter and breaking the news on his Twitter account.

Maholm (4-3, 4.73 ERA) watched the White Sox take shots at Waveland Avenue Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn and Tyler Flowers each homered. Welcome to Cubs-Sox.

Well, obviously, it sucked because we lost three games, Maholm said. When I went out there, I didnt worry about a big rivalry series or whatever. I was trying to make pitches, and I did early. I missed some pitches and they hit home runs.

So hopefully whenever we re-up the crosstown cup, we can sweep em at their place. Its kind of like kissing your sister and just go for a tie.

A lot will happen between now and then. Though the schedule eases up a bit with a trip through Houston and Pittsburgh, the Cubs will play 16 of their next 19 games on the road.

Whether its moving Castro up, rearranging David DeJesus and Tony Campana, giving more at-bats to Joe Mather or throwing Rizzo into the fire, Sveum is looking to shake things up.

We need some production, Sveum said. The bottom line is two months into the season we have to start producing, or were going to have to start making some changes.

With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

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USA Today

With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- On April 28, 2017, the Celtics ended the Bulls’ lone season of what Rajon Rondo brilliantly called “The Three Alphas,” closing out the first-round playoff series in six games.

As the Bulls begin their 54th season in franchise history Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., only Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio remain from that roster.

When John Paxson first succeeded Jerry Krause in April 2003, he took two years to similarly flip the roster, keeping only Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.

This makeover was Paxson’s doing, beginning with the June 2017 trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. His last complete overhaul produced 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons, albeit with only five series victories in that span.

Wednesday night begins the quest for sustained success.

“We have revamped this roster in a big way and a way in that we can look at this team and we see real talent,” Paxson said back on the team’s media day in late September. “We see a versatile roster. We see depth on this roster. We see some leadership on this roster which we haven’t had.

“And because of that our goals this year are really simple. First and foremost, we want to compete at a high, high level. And when you compete at a high level, you have an ability to be a playoff-caliber team. And we set that as a goal. (Coach) Jim (Boylen) talks about it. He’s not afraid of it. And our guys through their work have shown us that they want to make that commitment. So we feel good about that.”

There’s plenty to feel good about during a preseason. That’s when each team’s regular-season record is unblemished. The tests start for real against the Hornets, followed by Friday’s visit to Memphis.

Four of the Bulls’ first five games are on the road but all are against teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season. Saturday’s home opener is against the defending NBA champion Raptors, who defeated the Pelicans in overtime Tuesday night in their first game since Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers.

Plenty has to go right for the Bulls to make the jump from 22 victories to the playoffs. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen need to step towards stardom. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young need to continue being the low-maintenance complementary pieces they've shown to be during their careers. Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. need to stay healthy. Coby White and Kris Dunn need to contribute off the bench.

Still, the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide open. The Bulls know this. It’s why Boylen indeed gave voice to the goal on that same September media day.

“Our goals for the season are to make the playoffs,” Boylen said then. “And every day to prepare like we’re a playoff team. Every day to work like we’re a playoff-bound team. I’m excited for that. I think that’s the only way to do it. There’s no way that we were going to stand up here and say, ‘Hey, I hope we can win 10 more games or we hope we can be better.’ We want to get to the mountain top.’’

The games count for real starting Wednesday. It’s time to start climbing.

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

According to David Kaplan, the Cubs have made their decision on a new manager. And to no surprise, they've landed on David Ross.

Ross was widely speculated as the heir apparent to Joe Maddon and that's exactly how the situation has played out. The team also interviewed current bench coach Mark Loretta, first-base coach Will Venable and former Cubs player and Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Ross retired after the 2016 season and has spent the last three seasons working in a special assistant role in Theo Epstein's front office while also serving as an MLB analyst/broadcaster for ESPN. He has not coached or managed at any level. 

During his two years as a player with the Cubs, Ross was an integral part of changing the culture inside the clubhouse and is revered as a legendary leader to all the young players that came up and helped end the 108-year championship drought. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant affectionately dubbed him "Grandpa Rossy" and he rode that popularity on the shoulders of his teammates in a Rudy-esque celebration after Game 7 and then a stint on "Dancing with the Stars." Every time he is shown on the video board at Wrigley Field, it elicits a deafening cheer from Cubs fans.

Even three years since he last donned the uniform, Ross' impact remains and the Cubs have been searching for the type of clubhouse leadership he provided. Earlier this season, Javy Baez brought up Ross unprompted, mentioning advice from his former teammate that he still thinks about on a daily basis.

The question was never really if and more about when Ross was going to get a chance to manage the Cubs in the future. Just last fall, he was brought up as a potential option to replace Brandon Hyde as Maddon's bench coach, but Ross still wanted to spend time with family in retirement and wasn't yet ready to commit to the grind of a long season. 

Still, Epstein mentioned at the GM Meetings last November that he and the front office were pushing Ross to be around the team more in 2019. GM Jed Hoyer followed that up at the Winter Meetings in December talking about how much of an impact Ross has on these players and the level of trust that's already inherent within this group.

Apparently, Ross is now willing and able to put in the 7-to-8 month time commitment to step in as the Cubs' new manager. When it was officially announced Maddon would not be returning, Ross was on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and expressed interest in the job and Epstein confirmed the next day Ross was on the team's list of managerial candidates.

Epstein mentioned he would prefer hiring a manager with big-league experience and the main theme of his end-of-season press conference was all about change, not hanging their hats on 2016 and climbing out of the "winner's trap." But they still opted for Ross as the organization's new field general.

"I always have greater comfort level hiring for roles in which the person has done the role before, especially with manager," Epstein said on the final day of September. "I think there are ways for that to be overcome. There’s a lot of different ways to get experience in this game. Beliefs, skills, personal attributes, those can outweigh a lack of experience, but experience certainly helps.

“David Ross has a lot of great things going for him, I would say. His connection to the players on this team, and especially his connection to the 2016 team, are not necessarily assets that distinguish him. Those are not necessarily things that are gonna be important to us.

“I think Rossy is a really attractive candidate, and he’s gonna be evaluated on the merits, what he can bring to the table as a major league manager given his skills, given his experiences, given his world-view, given what he knows about winning, all those things.”

We now know how that evaluation process has played out.

The question now becomes — how would the Cubs players handle Ross as a manager, moving from friend and teammate to boss? 

We'll find out in the coming months.