With the Aug. 1 trade deadline right around the corner, a new name has been added to the mix.
James Shields, who was acquired by the White Sox in early June, is reportedly available for trade, according to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, after the 34-year-old right-hander has pitched his way into the trade market with his latest hot streak.
The White Sox traded for Shields in an effort to strengthen their rotation and alleviate some pressure off a taxed bullpen, but with the team six games back for the division lead and the final wild card spot, it would be wise of the White Sox to take advantage of this pitcher's market and flip Shields for assets that can help them in the future.
After a rough start in Chicago, Shields has turned in five quality starts in his last five outings, which included a stellar performance in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Cubs. He also owns a 1.71 ERA across his last six starts.
The biggest question will be, which team wants to take on Shields' contract?
He still has two years remaining on a four-year, $75 million deal he inked with the San Diego Padres in 2014. It's worth noting Shields has an opt-out clause after this season, and a club option to return in 2019.
Every time a European team comes over to the United States, the players are asked about the growth of Major League Soccer and the sport in this country.
Occasionally a player will say something interesting, which is why these types of stories continue.
On Tuesday, a day before the Bayern Munich-AC Milan preseason game at Soldier Field, Xabi Alonso and Holger Badstuber of Bayern and Riccardo Montolivo and Gianluigi Donnarumma of Milan took part in a panel to discuss American soccer and the development of technology in the sport.
All four players talked about how the sport is growing in the U.S. and that they hear MLS is improving, but Alonso had a slightly more in-depth perspective thanks for a former teammate.
“I recently spoke with Stevie Gerrard (of the LA Galaxy),” Alonso began. “Maybe people tend to think the level is not as high, but he really thinks that it’s very demanding. The players are really strong.”
As much as having players like Gerrard, who is 36 years old, in the league feeds into the “retirement league” stigma that MLS continues to wear around its neck, other players around the world will listen to his opinion of the league. Alonso played with Gerrard at Liverpool from 2004-2009 and hearing Gerrard say the league is quality will increase the chances of more well-known players joining MLS. As much as the retirement league stigma can be a negative, Gerrard speaking praise about the league to other players can possibly offset that stigma.
The second part of Alonso’s quote is not as positive about MLS.
“Of course what is different is the system of the competition,” Alonso continued. “Sometimes they lose a game and it doesn’t really have that impact, but for sure it’s becoming more popular for European players, for worldwide players to come to the States to play. That’s great news I think.”
The fact that MLS has playoffs to determine its most prestigious trophy is foreign to, well, foreigners. Leagues all around the world give the league title to the equivalent of the regular season winner and have cup competitions, both domestic and continental, to create playoff-type drama. On top of that 60 percent of MLS teams make the playoffs, which devalues the regular season. Apparently, this hasn’t gone unnoticed in other parts of the world.
While players like Alonso and Montolivo have become more familiar to American soccer fans because of the increased access to games in recent years, that goes both ways. Not only are the Premier League, Bundesliga and Serie A being shown in the U.S., but MLS is being shown in Europe.
“They are on German television, some games you can watch there,” Badstuber said. “I think it’s good. I think that old players from Germany are going to go to the States, too, after their career in Germany because it’s a different culture, it’s a new life and they can learn a lot. This is a fact that players want to go to the States.”
The players are also aware it’s not just older players that have come over. Montolivo brought up Sebastian Giovinco, the 2015 MLS MVP who Montolivo has played with on the Italian National Team.
“Major League Soccer is definitely improving in trying to bring players not at the end of their careers, when at full strength,” Montolivo said through a translator. “For example, Giovinco came at 27 and he came to win.”
These players were at a promotional event so they weren’t about to trash MLS and make enemies of American soccer fans. Still, there was more substance to these quotes than you probably would have seen maybe five or seven years ago. Perception is reality and the perception of MLS does seem to be improving abroad.
CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. You can view Edgy Tim's other football previews here.
School: St. Viator
Head coach: Dave Archibald
Assistant Coaches: OL Jackson King, RB Al Panzeca, WR Casey Lynde, DC/DB Dan Fitzpatrick, LB Jason Churak, DL Kyle Jenkins, Def. Assistant Bob Lamick, K-Fr. Dan Hall, DFO Mr. Mike Tubridy
How they fared in 2015: 1-8 (0-7) East Suburban Catholic Conference. St. Viator failed to qualify for the 2015 IHSA state playoff field.
Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Lions get back to their winning ways this season?
Names to watch this season: TE Cole Kmet, LB Austin Ruetschke
Biggest holes to fill: The Lions have just four starters back on defense this fall including just one starter on the defensive line in senior Anthony Barcal.
EDGY's Early Take: New head coach Dave Archibald comes to St. Viator from Wisconsin Lutheran and can hopefully bring some new life into the Lions after struggling last season. St. Viator has experience in the offensive skills and that group be asked to produce early and often this season.