Steve Stone's Mailbag: Sergio Santos, Ted Lilly

Steve Stone's Mailbag: Sergio Santos, Ted Lilly

Friday, April 23, 2010
10:35 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer some of your questions about Sergio Santos, Ted Lilly and more!

Question from Bryan, Alsip, IL: Can history repeat itself & Sergio Santos move into the closer role by late July?

Steve Stone: I am not sure what the significance of late July is but Sergio Santos has closer stuff. What he doesnt have is experience. Santos has only pitched for a year. All who follow the Chicago White Sox know that Santos was a number one draft choice for the Diamondbacks as a power hitting shortstop. He finally decided that it wasnt going the way he wanted it to go and so he decided to start pitching. He has been very good so far in five appearances covering a total of 5 innings. He has only walked one, struck out 8 and given up one hit in those 5 innings but before we anoint him as a closer, we have to see a whole lot more of him in some pressure situations and allow him to get comfortable in a major league situation.

Question from &8232;&8232;Sacramento, Chicago, IL: Hey Steve, what are your thoughts on Konerko and Pierzynskis contracts? Do you think both sides will work something out before the end of this year? Or is this the last year for both in a Sox uniform?

Stone: Thirteen games into the season, its not really the right time to even think about contracts for next year unless you are talking about guys like Joe Mauer or really talented young guys that will be the foundation of your organization for years to come. I think that Kenny Williams will take a wait-and-see approach to both of these players, both Paul and AJ have done a good job. A lot depends on the economics and what each will want to give up their free agency and what some of the young guys might be able to do. If Dayan Viciedo shows that he can hit and Tyler Flowers is what the White Sox thought he was when the acquired him from Atlanta, then you have some candidates for first base as well as behind the plate or a combination of those 2 positions plus designated hitters. A lot has to do with what kind of attendance the Sox have this year which certainly have to do with how well they do in the standings. Right now with a payroll touching 105106 million dollars, Im not too sure how much higher if at all the Sox will go next year. It is safe to say that those decisions are best left for considerably down the road in both cases.

Question from &8232;&8232;Anthony, Frankfort, IL: What do you expect out of Ted Lilly when he rejoins the Cubs this weekend? What does he bring to the starting rotation?

Stone: He brings one of the most dependable left-hand pitchers in the National League in the last couple years. Lily has been a very reliable starting pitcher since putting on that Cub uniform in the 2007 season. In 2007 he was 15-8, in 2008, he was 17-9 and last year he was 12-9 for a mediocre Cubs team. In the 3 seasons with the Cubs, he has won more games than Carlos Zambrano.
Question from Eric, Northbrook, IL: Do you think Andrew Cashner could be on his way to provide bullpen help for the Cubs?

Stone: Since the Cubs drafted Andrew Cashner in the first round of 2008 with the 19th overall pick, I believed that the 66 210 pound right-hander is better suited for a role in the bullpen. The Cubs however have used Cashner almost exclusively as a starting pitcher. The cubs also feel that Jeff Samardzija is a candidate to be a starting pitcher. I dont agree with them on that assessment either. So it all depends on what the Cubs feel on the future of Cashner but the one thing we do know for sure, is at this point of the year with 5 blown saves, a 1-5 record, a 5.59 ERA and already one of the relievers on the disabled list, the Cubs bullpen is a mess. And if Jim Hendry does not get it straightened out, its going to be a very long year for the Northsiders.
&8232;&8232;Question from Larry, Schaumburg, IL: Who would you say is the MLBs top three MVPs these first couple weeks of the baseball season and why?

Stone: First of all, we do realize that MLB persay doesnt give out 2 week MVPs. If they did, it might surprise people around baseball that Scott Podsednik is leading the American League in hitting at .457 so I doubt that one of the newest members of the KC Royals is going to spend the majority of the season there and I dont believe he will win the MVP as well as Pudge Rodriguez leading the National at .444 for the Nationals and I dont think that he is going to stay there. If you like runs batted in, you could choose Nelson Cruz from Texas, hes got 15 to lead the American League. Or you can go to Jorge Cantu of Florida leading the National league at 16. If home runs is your choice, well you can stay with Cruz who has 7 and the National League you can go to Chase Utley who has 6. But its probably safe to say that somewhere along the line, you have to figure the usual suspects will start to creep up as the pretenders start to fall down.

An interesting note for Chicago fans is the Milwaukee 3rd baseman given to them for 20,000 courtesy of the Cubs is a fella by the name of Casey McGhee . McGhee is hitting .400 which places him 3rd in the National League and he has 4 homeruns which ties him for 4th in the National League. After hitting over .300 last year, he seems to be off to another great start. If you prefer pitchers, well then you can look at Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jiminez or Tim Linecum as they are all 3-0. Thats in the National League. In the American League, youd have to say John Rausch was pressed into the closing role for the Minnesota Twins when Joe Nathan was lost for the season who is 6-6 in saves for the season. All this however goes to show you one thing, that is, the reason why they dont hand out 3 week MVPs.

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Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

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AP

Morning Update: Dwyane Wade comes up clutch in close win vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

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Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. 

"I took off too far as I look at the instant replay," Wade said. "I should've took maybe one more dribble. Can't say I felt 35, I just took off too far (laughs). But hey, sometimes you get calls, sometimes you don't. I'm a person who hasn't gotten a lot all year so I'm not gonna apologize for nothing."

Stripping Cousins on his spin move was the finale, but he swatted an Arron Afflalo corner triple in the fourth, smothered Ty Lawson at the rim twice for blocked shots to end the third and tortured Lawson again in the fourth for another steal that led to him following up a Jimmy Butler missed layup with a follow and foul.

"Just a read," said Wade on stripping Cousins. "We knew he was gonna go to DeMarcus at that point. Once we forced him left, I knew he had to come back to the right hand. And being in the right place at the right time, the ball was right there for me."

Wade played like a desperate and motivated man, putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He took to twitter to apologize for the poor effort against the Hawks, producing his best all-around performance as a Bull.

"We've been good in desperate moments," Wade said. "We haven't been good in non-desperate moments, when we win three in a row or playing a team that we should beat. But (in) the desperate moments I like us."

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

"I thought he was terrific," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He was aggressive all game long, taking the ball to the basket, getting to the line 15 times. He came up with two big plays."

Hoiberg threw out different lineups and rotations, playing Paul Zipser as a sixth man and having the second-round draft pick close the game. Zipser took advantage, hitting three triples and scoring 13 points.

"I thought it was night and day from last night," Hoiberg said. "Our energy was really good all night long. We got just enough stops to find a way to win."

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

"He was pretty much unguardable for the majority of the game, Taj did a solid job on him," Hoiberg said. "When Robin was on him, they put him on the perimeter and let him shoot threes. He's a monster."

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

But the Bulls stayed close, with Hoiberg choosing to sit Rajon Rondo for the second half after playing him six minutes in the second quarter, using Wade as a point guard and going with Carter-Williams for defense, along with Zipser, who didn't look scared of the moment.

"I like the wrinkle coach put in there, putting him in early," Wade said. "He gave him an opportunity and he helped us big time."

Butler scored 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes, didn't have to play the hero for once and made fun of Wade's apology tweet.

"He was due for a big night," Butler said. "He can tweet again if he can come out again and give us 30 and some big steals and big dunks."

"I think that's what called of him, to score baskets and guard. It's kinda sneaky. You never really expect it until it happens."

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting with Zipser instead of going with Denzel Valentine, switching things up altogether.

But the tone was set by the leaders, who can only manufacture but so much urgency on a nightly basis.

"I like this team when we're desperate," Wade said. "A desperate team, we're not bad."