Bears

World champions bring back an old friend

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World champions bring back an old friend

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Andres Torres is returning to the San Francisco Giants, who gave the outfielder his first chance as a regular two years ago.Torres signed a 2 million, one-year contract Thursday with the reigning World Series champions. He passed a physical to finalize the deal, the Giants said."Great to have him back!" manager Bruce Bochy wrote in a text message. "He gives us that much more versatility and character in the clubhouse. Everybody loves Andres as a teammate."Also on Thursday, the Giants reached a minor league deal with right-hander Chad Gaudin, familiar with the Bay Area after pitching for Oakland from 2006 through part of the 2008 season and again for a short stint in 2010. If Gaudin is placed on the 40-man roster, he would earn 750,000 while in the majors and 150,000 while in the minors. He also could make an additional 50,000 each for 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 games pitched in the big leagues.The 34-year-old Torres spent last season with the New York Mets following three years with the Giants. He hit .230 this year with three home runs, 35 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 132 games.Now, Torres gets to play alongside the man the Giants traded him to New York for: center fielder Angel Pagan.A fan favorite and strong clubhouse presence, Torres will play left field. The Giants still have Gregor Blanco there as well, giving Bochy plenty of options. Pagan last week received a 40 million, four-year contract.Bochy said Torres also will back up Pagan and right fielder Hunter Pence. Blanco, an impact player during the postseason who took over in left following Melky Cabrera's 50-game suspension in August, also is likely to get ample opportunities.As part of the deal negotiated by agents Sam and Seth Levinson, Torres can earn an additional 250,000 in performance bonuses: 50,000 each for 400, 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate appearances.The switch-hitting Torres was a key member of the Giants' 2010 World Series championship run. He was in the stands at AT&T Park this fall for a couple of postseason games to cheer on his old teammates as they won their second title in three years.Torres, who had toiled in the minors for more than a decade, became a regular in May 2010 as the center fielder and leadoff hitter. He batted .268 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs in his first full big league season, then played through pain throughout the playoffs. He surprised the Giants and even himself with a rapid recovery to return from an emergency appendectomy late in the year to help San Francisco during the stretch run.Torres had the procedure Sept. 12, 2010, in San Diego and played again Sept. 24 -- missing all of 11 games. His fitness level and determination helped him return so quickly. Bochy had all but ruled out Torres for the remainder of the regular season.He then hit .276 with a home run and three RBIs in 15 postseason games. He hit four doubles and stole two bases.Torres also has been open about his struggles with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In 2007, he began taking medication for the condition and it has made a huge difference.He was recognized as the team's 2010 "Willie Mac" Award winner. The honor is named for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and is voted on by the players, coaches and training staff to recognize the team's most inspirational player both on the field and in the clubhouse.Torres' plight to reach the majors after a modest upbringing in Puerto Rico and his struggles with ADHD were the subject of a documentary. He spent parts of 12 years in the minors -- eight of those at the Triple-A level -- before getting his shot.The 29-year-old Gaudin went 4-2 with a 4.54 ERA in 46 appearances last season with the Marlins.

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

The Chicago Bears have completely flipped the narrative of their 2019 season over the last three weeks, thanks in large part to Matt Nagy's offense finally resembling the 202-level that was promised last summer.

It may have taken quarterback Mitch Trubisky a little longer than expected to arrive this year, but if his last two games are an indication of his development in his second season under Nagy's tutelage, the Bears have a bonafide quarterback. And it's been a while since that could be said.

"Mitchell Trubisky is hot, there's no doubt about it," NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said Thursday. "He seems so much more comfortable. Decisive. He's accurate with the football. Running around at the proper time. I don't think it was all Mitchell Trubisky's fault with the struggles of the offense, either."

Those struggles spanned the first half of 2019 when Chicago seemed incapable of sustaining drives or scoring points. It began with Week 1's three-point output against the Packers and continued through Thanksgiving Day when Trubisky finally got his mojo back, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns.

With Trubisky clicking, and the running game receiving a jolt from rookie David Montgomery's productive back-to-back weeks in which he's averaged more than four yards per carry in successive games for the first time all year, the Bears appear capable of beating just about anyone. 

They'll need to. If Chicago wants to keep their weak playoff pulse going, they have to win-out. And that includes games against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings. 

The odds seem stacked against them, and it's their own fault. It took way too long to get the offense going, but it's better late than never. 

According to Simms, the Bears are that team no one wants to play.

"They're a dangerous team right now. They really are."

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

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