Bulls

Word on the Street: Payton fifth in NFL top 100

Word on the Street: Payton fifth in NFL top 100

Friday, Nov. 5, 2010
CSNChicago.com

Payton ranked fifth on NFL top 100
Walter Payton and Dick Butkus cracked the Top 10 of the NFL's list of its100 greatest players.

They are among eight former Bears players to make the list, which was released Thursday night. See the full list here. (NFL.com)
Bulls' Johnson headed to Charlotte?
In his second NBA season, Chicago Bulls forward James Johnson has come out of the gate averaging 4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 12:41 minutes per game.

The word is that the 2009 first-round pick out of Wake Forest may be taking those numbers to the Charlotte Bobcats. Sources to the site have it that a possible trade involving Johnson "has emerged." (Yahoo! Sports)

Wrigley getting ready for NorthwesternIllinois football game

Mets clubhouse manager bet on baseball?

Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels is under investigation by the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney's office for allegedly betting on baseball and other sports as part of an organized gambling ring, providing inside information and tips for friends who also placed bets on games and for using his Mets accounts to cover gambling debts, according to law-enforcement sources close to the probe into the longtime Mets employee. (NY Daily News)
Cubs' Ramirez will return in 2011
As he confirmed in September, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez declined to exercise his opt-out clause on Thursday meaning he'll return to the team in 2011. On Wednesday, Cubs GM Jim Hendry said he expected the move. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Cleveland tells LeBron what he should have done
The city of Cleveland has responded to LeBron James' Nike ad, showing that they are still bitter about his free agency decision.

Scheelhaase named Big Ten offensive player of the week

Nathan Scheelhaase was named Big Ten offensive player of the week and picked up the fourth freshman-of-the-week award of his eight-game career Monday.

The redshirt freshman quarterback from Kansas City had five career highs, including four touchdown passes and 118 rushing yards, in Illinois' 44-10 rout of Purdue. Scheelhaase, who completed 16 of 20 for 195 yards with no interceptions, also had career highs in completion percentage (80), total yards (313) and passing efficiency (227.9), the sixth-best single-game rating by an Illinois quarterback.

"He grew up today,'' said offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, who praised the strides Scheelhaase made in recognizing defensive schemes and audibling Illinois into favorable plays.

"I definitely felt that way, Scheelhaase said, echoing Petrino's comment. "With their blitzes and the things they did, I was able to get us into the right things. We changed a lot of protections, even on running plays.''

Scheelhaase completed passes to 11 different players.

"The game is slowing down for him,'' coach Ron Zook said. "I don't think it's anywhere near where it's going to be, but he really works at learning from his mistakes. The more he sees, the more he does, the more he learns, the more it's going to become a reaction." (Chicago Sun-Times)

The wait for Otto Porter Jr. continues after another injury setback

porter-1210.jpg
USA TODAY

The wait for Otto Porter Jr. continues after another injury setback

The wait for Otto Porter Jr. continues, and continues to lengthen.

Porter, who has been out since Nov. 9, now will be reassessed in four weeks after visiting Dr. Bob Anderson, a noted foot and ankle specialist, Monday in Green Bay, Wis. In a release, the Bulls said Anderson confirmed Porter’s bone injury in his left foot. In a new development, the team said the “healing response (is) consistent with a small fracture that has become more clearly defined with repeated imaging over the last five weeks.”

Porter will remain in his walking boot for now. And the Bulls’ depth at small forward, which also currently features Chandler Hutchison out with a bruised shoulder, will continue to be tested.

Kris Dunn will remain in a starting role until Hutchison returns. Denzel Valentine also has taken advantage of his opportunity created by these injuries.

However, Porter’s absence is significant.

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Yu Darvish's 'bargain' contract and the Cubs' pursuit of starting pitching

Yu Darvish's 'bargain' contract and the Cubs' pursuit of starting pitching

SAN DIEGO — Two offseasons ago, the Cubs inked a megadeal with one of the top pitchers on the market — a 31-year-old right-hander coming off a World Series run.

They paid $126 million over six years.

This offseason, the Nationals inked a megadeal with one of the top pitchers on the market — a 31-year-old right-hander coming off a World Series run. 

They paid $245 million over seven years.

A lot has changed in the last two winters.

Now, this isn't an argument about which pitcher was better at the time of their signing — Darvish or Strasburg. Wherever you fall in that debate, there's no denying they're at least comparable in terms of talent and production. 

Strasburg's deal also makes the Darvish contract look like a relative bargain, as the Cubs locked down their righty for roughly half the amount the Nationals paid.

It's funny we're even at the point in Darvish's tenure that we're now looking at his megadeal like a "bargain" after it looked destined for "bust" territory as recently as earlier this year. 

Darvish's first year in Chicago was a disaster, as he dealt with a bone bruise in his forearm and managed to make only 8 starts with a 4.95 ERA in those 40 innings. But he came to camp last spring in great shape physically and mentally, bonding with his teammates on a level he did not in 2018 and flashing his sense of humor from Day 1 (which has continued this offseason on social media).

That didn't immediately translate into results, as Darvish had a 5.01 ERA entering the All-Star Break after battling bouts of wildness and longball-itis. 

Then he flipped a switch, asking for the ball in the first game of the second half and going on to become one of the top pitchers in all of baseball after the All-Star Game with a 2.76 ERA and 118 strikeouts against only 7 walks in 81.2 innings. 

"The way Darvish pitched the second half of this year, any number would be a bargain," Theo Epstein said. "It's hard to pitch better than he did. I think that's where our focus is; he's in such a great place mentally and physically right now. He was dominant, he wants to go do that over the course of many years as a Chicago Cub. He's an important guy for us."

Darvish is owed $81 million over the next four years and with the price of pitching around the game right now, it's very likely he would have been able to secure more for himself on the open market. He had an opt-out in his deal, but chose instead to stay with the Cubs, where he was comfortable and grateful to the organization for their patience and support during his difficult start to his Chicago career. 

"Certainly the way the starting pitching market has moved and as quickly as it's moved, you couldn't get a guy like Yu Darvish on that kind of number now, let alone what's left on his deal," Epstein said. "You want more contracts that have surplus value than the other way around. He's a real asset for us."

Even with Darvish's contract now looking like a bargain or boasting "surplus value," the Cubs are still in a tight spot financially with a projected payroll around $6 million north of the luxury tax threshold. 

Yet Epstein's front office is still in the market for another starting pitcher to take Cole Hamels' spot in the rotation. They have internal options (Tyler Chatwood, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay, Collin Rea, Jharel Cotton) and could potentially slot one of those guys in that role, but Epstein and Co. always want to run their rotation depth chart eight or nine arms deep. 

Darvish, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester are locked into rotation spots and Jose Quintana will be as well, if he's not traded. The Cubs picked up Quintana's $10.5 million option for 2020, but it's the final year of his team-friendly deal and if the Cubs want to shed salary, dealing the veteran lefty might be an avenue to do so depending on what he'd fetch in a return.

If Quintana is moved, that obviously creates another hole in the rotation. Even if he remains on the North Side of Chicago, it would only be a short-term solution. Neither he nor Lester are signed beyond 2020 (Lester does have a vesting option for 2021) and the Cubs need long-term solutions for the rotation. 

So does that mean the Cubs are placing young, controllable starting pitching as a priority in trade talks as they dangle players like Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras?

"You can't force it," Epstein said. "We have a couple starting pitchers under longer-term control and then we have a couple who are up after next year and not a lot of depth behind it. So it would be nice, but you can't necessarily force it. We have a lot of needs and if we were to move a really good player, you want to get talent back. 

"It doesn't necessarily matter what position or what shape. But yeah, it'd certainly be nice over the course of this offseason and maybe the next trade deadline and maybe next offseason, we make sure we acquire impactful starting pitching at some point."

That could mean in the free agent pool, though the current budget issues would make that tough unless it's buying low on pitchers like they have the last two winters with Rea and Cotton.

It's yet another area where the Cubs' inability to draft and develop impact pitchers has come back to haunt Epstein's front office. But they can at least be grateful Darvish will return and has recouped enough value to change the conversation surrounding his signing as that of a "bargain."