White Sox

What has Bears running back 'disappointed'

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What has Bears running back 'disappointed'

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, September 8, 2011
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) -- Matt Forte hoped to have a contract extension. Instead, he's still waiting for his big payday. The Bears running back said Wednesday he's "disappointed" he wasn't able to get an extension from Chicago, and with talks shelved for now, it seems unlikely he'll get one anytime soon. Instead, there's a good chance he'll play out the fourth and final year of his rookie contract after failing to reach an agreement, something he hoped would get done before the opener this week against Atlanta. "Yeah, it's a little surprising," he said. "I'm disappointed that it wasn't. Like I said, coming into the league, you feel like this is supposed to be production-based. And when you produce in the offense, you expect the team or the organization to actually notice that compared to other guys. We just couldn't meet in the middle." He also disputed the notion that both sides had agreed to table the talks, saying he's still open to negotiating. That goes against what general manager Jerry Angelo said earlier in the week, when he told WBBM-AM in Chicago that the decision was mutual, although he wasn't completely slamming the door on the possibility of reaching an agreement by the end of the season. "He said that? I didn't say that, so I guess it wasn't mutual," Forte said. "But that was his decision. I can't really decide if we continue to talk or not. He's the one we talk to. The door's always open on my end." Forte wasn't the only high-profile Bears player seeking a new deal. Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs has said he wants to be traded if the organization won't renegotiate his six-year, 36 million contract, and with three seasons left, management clearly is not budging. Forte's situation is different, though. If they don't agree to a deal before the end of the season, he could test the market. The Bears could also slap him with the franchise-player tag. Fifth in the NFL with 4,731 yards from scrimmage since he entered the league, he had considered holding out at the start of training camp but decided against it. He was reportedly offered a deal that guaranteed about 13 million or 14 million, but he could be looking for something closer to the five-year, 43 million contract with 21 million guaranteed that Carolina gave DeAngelo Williams. "I'm not going to get into the specifics about it," he said. "It's just (that) we couldn't meet in the middle." Forte has "no regrets" about showing up for camp on time rather than holding out. "I handle it like I always do," he said. "I'm a professional. This is the National Football League, and that's what I was going to do -- come in and be professional about it, which is come into camp, work hard every day, get ready for the season. It's unfortunate that the contract situation, I did not get a contract extension, but I have no regrets about what I've done." Quarterback Jay Cutler expects nothing less from Forte than to handle the situation professionally. "He handles himself well," Cutler said. "He knows what it's all about. At the end of the day, he goes out and has a great year, he's going to get probably more money than he was going to get before." Forte is coming off a solid season in which he joined Walter Payton as the only Bears players to finish with at least 1,000 yards rushing and 500 receiving. He ran for 1,069, averaging a career-high 4.5 per carry, and tied for the team lead with 51 receptions for 547 yards, but he plays a high-risk position. There's a reason running backs generally have shorter shelf lives, and an injury this season would make any team think twice about giving Forte a big deal. So it's easy to see why he doesn't want to wait even if he said this about the risk of going down: "You can't go out there worried about that." It's also not hard to see why the Bears were at least willing to listen, given the way he has performed for them and that his price could go up if he has another good year. Angelo said early in training camp that they were "motivated," that it was their "intent" to get an extension for Forte, but he didn't set any timetables or make any guarantees. "I don't think he lied," Forte said. "We tried to get a deal done. It was just, maybe they have a different view of the type of player I am than the type of player that they think I am."

Where will White Sox turn for pitching? Are they destined to lean on internal options?

Where will White Sox turn for pitching? Are they destined to lean on internal options?

SAN DIEGO — Pitching. The White Sox need it. And their No. 1 target is now a Philadelphia Phillie.

“What's next?” doesn’t quite do the mystery justice.

Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu have all been thrown around as possibilities, mostly because they’re in the same free-agency tier that Zack Wheeler was in. You remember Wheeler, the guy who turned down a superior financial offer from the White Sox to please his family and pitch for the Phillies. Seeking help elsewhere in that same tier makes sense, but it’s possible the White Sox might not be quite as enamored with their backup plans as they were with their primary target.

That’s obviously the case, by definition, but perhaps the gap is bigger than Hahn suggests when he says the White Sox will “move on to the next one.” Not all free agents are created equal.

“That's part of the reason we moved so quickly on Yasmani (Grandal) is we felt he brought a very unique set of tools to the situation, and we wanted to make sure we locked that in. And we found a guy that aligned, not just economically with what he wanted, it was a good fit and something we were able to get done quickly,” Hahn said, pointing to an example of the White Sox acquiring their No. 1 choice. “In other segments of the market, there is some greater fall off, as well. In some, it's not so much of a fall off.

“The guys are the primary targets for a reason, but certainly, there's more than one way to skin a cat and we'll find a different way to get it done.”

The different way could involve none of those free-agent names. While reports have tied the White Sox to Bumgarner and Keuchel to various degrees, they were reported to be after Jordan Lyles, who recently signed with the Texas Rangers. Hahn said his front office was focused more on trades than free-agent signings in its conversations Monday in San Diego.

Trades, though, could be difficult, as the White Sox seem hellbent on hanging on to their top-rated prospects, a completely understandable stance considering the promise they show as impact players. Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal and Michael Kopech figure to take over as top-of-the-depth-chart guys in 2020. Andrew Vaughn, Dane Dunning and Jimmy Lambert might not be far behind.

What’s certain is those players won’t be going anywhere in exchange for a one-year fix. That’s more relevant to conversations involving Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor or Kris Bryant than ones involving a pitcher. But it’s important to remember that any trade talk probably starts midway down the list of White Sox prospects, a difficult way to land a truly impact player.

“There’s been, obviously, the pains and suffering that comes along with the early stages of a rebuild. We endured all that so we would be able to be in a position of building something that was going to be able to win on an annual basis, that was going to have some success for an extended period of time,” Hahn said. “Right now, we are in a bit of an interesting spot.

“Fundamentally, as a fan that has dealt with the hardships over the last three years, you want that benefit, that promised-land side of things to come more quickly. At the same time, we have to keep in mind why we started this and that was to build something sustainable. You don’t want to do anything short-sighted that’s just going to, trade wise, give us a quick bump next year but compromise the extended window we foresee coming when this all comes together.

“You need to be cognizant of that temptation to try to accelerate things. We want to get this to where it needs to be as quickly as possible. We don’t want to do that at the expense of shortening the window or making the window more difficult when it does open, whether that’s in the next few months or it takes a little longer.”

OK. So trading for impact fixes in the rotation appears unrealistic. The buzz surrounding the White Sox and free-agent signings diminished significantly as time went on during the first day of the Winter Meetings, and the possibility exists that the backup plans to Wheeler won't be quite as easy to pull the trigger on.

So what do the White Sox do?

It’s almost impossible to envision a parade of ineffective arms the likes of which we saw in 2019, when Ervin Santana and Manny Banuelos and Dylan Covey and Odrisamer Despaigne and Ross Detwiler manned a rotation that was exposed for its lack of big league ready depth. But should the White Sox come up empty on top-of-the-rotation free-agent fixes like they did with Wheeler, it’s not quite as difficult to envision stopgaps of some sort that set up what could still be a deeper pitching staff come 2020. Hahn raved about the potential for homegrown depth in the near future.

“There's still multiple options out there,” Hahn said when asked how the pitching market looks post-Wheeler. “We're going to continue to explore them both via trade and free agency.

“It's funny we talk about 2020, obviously, because that's the most important year we we can currently put our fingers on. We do think that, as we sit here, a year from now we have a chance to have a fair amount of depth on the pitching side. It doesn't mean we don't want to augment it, not only to get better in 2020, but to hedge that bet on the depth a little bit going forward and to create even more options for us going forward.

“But I do look forward to a year from right now and we're sitting up in that suite looking at our board. And I think the viable options in the big leagues are going to be even deeper than they are now.”

That’s true, mostly because Kopech and Dylan Cease should have full major league seasons under their belts and Dunning, Lambert and Carlos Rodon should all be back from Tommy John surgery.

So what does all that have to do with signing Bumgarner right now? If the White Sox are so gaga over the potential of their internal pitching depth a year from now, are they pleased enough to forego a potential impact addition this winter — one they’re not nearly as thrilled about making as compared to how they felt about Wheeler?

A pitching staff built primarily on internal options would not at all be a bad thing, but such an outcome relies on all those young arms hitting the way Lucas Giolito did in 2019. That's extremely difficult. The three models for turning a rebuild into a world championship, the Cubs, Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals, have had almost no luck doing that. The biggest names in those championship runs, from a pitching standpoint, were Jon Lester, Justin Verlander and Jonny Cueto. The Royals are now rebuilding. The Cubs have struggled to find any homegrown pitching since Theo Epstein's regime took over. It's really hard to do.

These are questions with few answers, really. Hahn doesn’t talk about specific free agents, meaning everything is a philosophical discussion rather than a “this is what we’re doing” one. Are the White Sox opposed to adding a top-of-the-rotation pitcher? Absolutely not, they’d love to. Are they going after Keuchel to do it? That’s not quite as open for discussion.

And that’s a fine policy for perfectly understandable reasons, it just leaves so much a mystery. Mystery is all we have regarding the potential additions that could follow Grandal this offseason. The White Sox need pitching, and they’ll get it. But are they jazzed about the remaining options to the point it will top any of the internal options on the depth chart? Stay tuned.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Why are the Blackhawks so inconsistent?

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Why are the Blackhawks so inconsistent?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis and Nick Gismondi discuss the coaches getting involved in practice (0:40), the latest roster moves (2:45), Dennis Gilbert standing up for Alex DeBrincat (7:15), Robin Lehner's shootout struggles (13:45), the Blackhawks' inconsistency woes (17:45), performance vs. results (23:50) and the importance of the next eight games (27:35).

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