Vitters Hoping For Big Fall

Vitters Hoping For Big Fall

Sunday Oct. 17, 2010
Posted: 8:20 a.m.
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE
The Arizona Fall League can be used as a springboard or a showcase for some players, letting them finish the calendar year on a positive note. Very often a good a good AFL showing will also create some buzz around a player heading into spring training the following year.

Josh Vitters falls under the former category while Kyle Smit can, at least for the moment, be classified as part of the latter. Both are playing for Mesa this fall and each played a big part in Saturday nights 10-1 victory over the Peoria Saguaros.

The Cubs made Vitters the third pick in the 2007 draft yet he hasnt lived up to such a lofty selection. Hes made a steady climb through Chicagos system and played well enough but has yet to dominate the way a high draft pick is expected to dominate. He split this season between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, struggling when he reached the Southern League before a broken hand ended his year in July.

To say that Vitters has something to prove this fall would be an understatement. A big showing in the AFL would go a long way toward putting some polish back on his young career despite the fact he only turned 21 in August. More efforts like Saturdays would accomplish that task.

Vitters had a homer and four RBIs and has four hits and five RBIs in his last two games. He had only 39 RBIs in 91 games at two levels during the regular season so this marks a fine start for the third baseman. Ryan Flaherty went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

As for Smit, well, it certainly appears as if the Cubs found a gem when they acquired him from the Dodgers in a deadline deal this July. He pitched two scoreless innings and earned his first AFL victory. He hasnt allowed a run in four AFL innings after pitching to a 1.96 ERA and winning five of the 12 games in which he appeared for Tennessee following the trade.

Based on what he did after the deal and how he has performed thus far in the AFL, Smit should have a wonderful opportunity to open some more organizational eyes in spring training.

Chris Carpenter also pitched two innings, allowing a run on two hits and a pair of walks. Hes walked three and allowed five hits through four AFL innings.

The Saguaros, who have a healthy contingent of White Sox prospects, managed only seven hits. Jared Mitchell, who drew two walks, had one of them. Jason Bour, who split the season between Birmingham and Winston-Salem, went 0-for-1 in his AFL debut while Eduardo Escobar went 0-for-3.

Anthony Carter made his debut and struck out three batters in his inning of work. He appeared in 46 games for Birmingham during the regular season. Charlie Leesman allowed a run in one inning for the second time in as many outings.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at ktczerwinski@gmail.com.

Banged-up Bears reportedly add running back Joique Bell

Banged-up Bears reportedly add running back Joique Bell

With Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem on the shelf with injury, the Bears have reportedly signed running back Joique Bell.

Bell spent four seasons with the Lions, tallying 2,235 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns from 2012 to 2015. He also added 161 receptions for 1,640 yards and another score.

Bell was released in February as the Lions opted to get younger at the position.

The 220-pound Bell will provide depth for the Bears at yet another position where they've been ravaged by injury. Ka'Deem Carey missed Week 3 with a hamstring injury suffered the previous week, and Langford will reportedly miss four-to-six weeks with an ankle injury suffered Monday night.

That leaves rookie Jordan Howard, who has shown promise in his first three games, and Raheem Mostert on the depth chart.

The Bears host the Lions on Sunday.

Stan Bowman mum on Artemi Panarin contract talks

Stan Bowman mum on Artemi Panarin contract talks

In July, when asked how contract talks were going with star forward Artemi Panarin, general manager Stan Bowman said he wouldn’t negotiate through the media.

He reiterated that on Tuesday.

“Obviously Artemi's a big part of our team. We're excited for the season he had. We're looking forward to him building on that as well. Then the negotiations will be what they are between his agent and myself,” I respect Tom [Lynn, Panarin’s agent]. He's a very knowledgeable guy, and Artemi put a lot of faith in him. And Tom and I will work to get something done.”

Panarin is entering the final year of his current contract and is coming off a monster rookie season in which he recorded 77 points and took home the Calder Trophy. Panarin took home plenty of bonus money thanks to that season, too.

The 24-year-old could certainly command a hefty price, which would once again be a major concern to the cash-strapped Blackhawks. The salary cap is at $73 million for this season, a small increase from 2015-16 ($71.4 million). Factor in another likely small increase next season and the large contracts the Blackhawks are already doling out – Brent Seabrook’s eight-year deal with a cap hit of $6.875 kicks in this season – and could Panarin be another one that gets away?

But Bowman remains optimistic.

“We're always confident,” he said. “You go into a negotiation expecting to get a deal done. That's the way I've been in the past and that's the way I am now.”