Cubs Pitchers Get Off To Shaky AFL Start; Vitters Plays First Base

Cubs Pitchers Get Off To Shaky AFL Start; Vitters Plays First Base

Thursday Oct. 14, 2010
Posted: 7:45 A.M.
By Kevin Czerwinski

It was Chicagos turn to supply the pitching for Mesa Wednesday night and only one of the four Cubs prospects that appeared came away unscathed in a 6-3 loss to visiting Phoenix.

Kyle Smit, whom Chicago acquired in a July deadline deal with the Dodgers, picked up where he left off in the regular season. He fanned three over two hitless innings while also issuing a walk. Smit was 5-1 with a save, posting a 1.96 ERA over 12 games after joining Tennessee following the trade. He had a combined 1.23 ERA over his final 36 13 innings this year with the Smokies, Chattanooga and Inland Empire.

Jake Muyco, who had a solid season out of the bullpen for Tennessee, made the start and allowed two runs on six hits over three innings. He had allowed that many hits only once in 40 appearances during the regular season, an expected number because most of his outings were limited to two innings or less.

Chris Carpenter, who spent the season with Tennessee, took the loss after allowing a run on three hits over two innings. David Cales, meanwhile, allowed two runs one earned on three hits in an inning.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty, who was the DH, was 1-for-3 with a walk. In an interesting move, Josh Vitters, the Cubs first-round pick in 2007, played first base. It was the first time he had done so in his professional career. Prior to Wednesdays action, Vitters had always been at third base or DH. Vitters, who missed the final month and a half of the regular season plus the post-season with a broken hand at Double-A Tennessee, was 0-for-4.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado


Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Jamal Mayers discuss the bottom six carrying the Blackhawks to a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Later, Mayers weighs in on possible targets with the NHL trade deadline just six weeks away.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below:

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.

Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9). 

Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:

One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.

Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.

[SHOP BEARS: Get your Bears gear right here]

In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss. 

Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:

If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.

"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."