Valbuena giving Cubs a boost at 3B


Valbuena giving Cubs a boost at 3B

Two years ago, Tyler Colvin was seen as a potential franchise cornerstone. He may not have gotten as much hype as Anthony Rizzo, but there was a definite buzz surrounding the young outfielder.

But Colvin struggled to the tune of a .150 average in 2011 and the new front office felt he would do better with a change of scenery, so they dealt him to the Rockies for third baseman Ian Stewart.

A day after Colvin had four hits -- including a homer -- and five RBI, Cubs manager Dale Sveum had some bad news about Stewart, who has been on the disabled list since June 14.

Stewart had received cortisone shots in his ailing left wrist in hopes of nixing the problem, but it hasn't worked.

"The shots don't seem to be making a difference," Sveum said. "I don't know what we're going to end up doing with that, but there's not a whole lot of progress going on."

Even before the DL stint, Stewart was struggling to hit .200 and had just a .627 OPS through 55 games. The Cubs hoped he could tap into the power that helped him slug 43 homers from 2009-10, but the 27-year-old third baseman had just five dingers and 17 RBI in 179 at-bats.

Meanwhile, Stewart's replacement has given the Cubs a little life at the hot corner.

Luis Valbuena hit his third home run of the season Friday, a lined shot to the opposite field. He also played some solid defense at a position he had only played 10 times in his major-league career prior to this season.

Valbuena is only hitting .234, but has three homers and 10 RBI to go along with a .776 OPS.

"When he gets his hits, they all seem to be big hits," Svuem said. "To take the lead, to add on if we're up by one. He's done a great job. I wish we woulda had him here earlier."

With Stewart's immediate future in doubt, the Cubs have at least found a temporary answer at third base, though it could become something more for the Venezuelan native.

Given his age (26) and the new regime's willingness to provide opportunity to under-the-radar players, Valbuena has a chance to stick around.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit. 

Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini. 

The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.

The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.

Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.

Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Mitch Trubisky jersey sales trending in right direction

Positive press about the Chicago Bears' offseason is having a strong impact on the jersey sales for the team's highest-profile player, Mitch Trubisky.

According to Dick's Sporting Goods, Trubisky's No. 10 is the fifth-most popular jersey among offensive players over the last 30 days. He's No. 6 among all players, regardless of position.

The Bears' offseason has been full of superlatives since their aggressive approach to free agency. The signings of Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel put the spotlight on Trubisky and the potentially surging passing game. The second-round selection of Anthony Miller and word of Kevin White's offseason emergence has turned positive momentum into higher-than-anticipated expectations for Trubisky this season.

For Chicago to have any chance at meeting those expectations, Trubisky, who's entering his first full season as a starter with a new head coach and offensive system, has to thrive. Fans must be confident that he will, considering the investment they're making in his jersey.

Trubisky ended his rookie season with four wins in 12 starts, throwing for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He completed 59.4 percent of his passes. He should have a much more productive season in 2018 with his new arsenal of skill players and an innovative coaching staff, led by coach Matt Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.