Word on the Street: Cubs to consider Cliff Lee?

Word on the Street: Cubs to consider Cliff Lee?

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010

Cliff Lee to the Cubs?

It may be unlikely, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote Friday that the Cubs could be among the three or four potential suitors for the lefty this offseason. Over the last two seasons, Lee has led two different clubs through the difficult final months of the regular season and deep into the playoffs. Sherman speculates that his success in leading the Phillies and Rangers deep into the postseason could spur more teams into the hunt for Lee this winter - including the Cubs. (NYPost)

Blackhawks recall Brophey

The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled forward Evan Brophey from the American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs.

Brophey, 23, has appeared in all six of Rockford's regular-season contests this season, scoring two goals and pacing the IceHogs with a 4 rating. Chicago's fourth selection (68th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Kitchener, Ontario, native has registered 36 goals and 56 assists over the course of 238 career regular-season AHL tilts with Rockford from 2007-10. (sbnation.com)
NBA looks to cut salary by 800 million

Sports fans may find themselves in a strange predicament in 2011 as both the NBA and NFL seem to be heading towards lockouts. The NBA, which currently spends 2.1 billion per year on player salaries and benefits, wants to cut player salaries by around 800 million to help make the league profitable once again. The league claims it lost 400 million last year and expects to lose about 350 million this year.

"We would like to get profitable, have a return on investment," NBA commissioner David Stern said Thursday. "There's a swing of somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 to 800 million that we would like to change." (NY Daily News)

NFL: Favre investigation ongoing

The NFL says it is still investigating allegations that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre sent inappropriate photos and text messages to former New York Jets game hostess Jenn Sterger in 2008 when Favre played for the team. Sterger's manager told the Associated Press that she is "strongly considering" talking to the NFL officials conducting the investigation. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Sox's Hahn not going to New York

The New York Mets said Friday that they have narrowed their search for a new general manager to two names; Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes. White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn had previously been rumored to be a candidate for the job but is now apparently out of the running. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Briggs likely to play vs. Redskins

Though he was limited in practice on Thursday, it looks like Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs will be healthy enough to play in Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. Briggs was held out of last week's game against Seattle with a sprained ankle.

Ex-Rams WR: Martz can be too stubborn

Ex-Rams wide receiver Ricky Proehl played under Mike Martz for five years in St. Louis, including the 1999 "Greatest Show on Turf" Super Bowl championship season. Proehl, no doubt, benefited from Martz's pass-heavy offensive mindset, but as he told "The Danny Mac Show" on WSCR-AM 670, he believes Martz is sometimes too stubborn for his own good.

Proehl pointed to something Martz told the Rams during their 20-17 Super Bowl XXXVI loss to the New England Patriots.

"New England did a great job game-planning our offense and they showed blitz and dropped into zone," Proehl said. "They basically rushed three and dropped eight. His comment was, "We're going to throw the football anyway," and that kind of upset us as players." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

More ex-Hawks get their rings

Blackhawks vice president Alan Maclsacc flew to Atlanta on Friday to personally deliver Dusting Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd, John Torchetti and Ben Eager their 2009 championship rings. (Chicago.SBNation.com)

Cubs to sign Adam Dunn?

Baseball agent Matt Sosnick said in an interview that he believes the Cubs are the most likely destination for free agent outfielderfirst baseman Adam Dunn. Dunn played for the Nationals in 2010 and put up a .260 batting average with 38 homers and 103 runs batted in.

"If I was going to guess, I would say Adam Dunn is probably going to the Cubs, and he'll probably get, you know, 3 years and 40 million bucks," said Sosnick. (ChicagoNow)

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

Jon Lester says Cubs haven’t done anything yet: ‘Nobody likes second place’

As Cubs players and generations of fans celebrated Christmas in October, Jon Lester had to be The Grinch for a moment. Sure, the Cubs would party from Saturday night into Sunday morning, probably get “a little bit” drunk and enjoy the franchise’s first National League pennant in 71 years. But the reality of the Cleveland Indians would set in once the Cubs got rid of this hangover.

“We ain’t done anything yet,” Lester said during the Wrigley Field celebration after the Cubs eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Nobody likes second place.”

There are enough Boston Red Sox connections in this World Series that Lester already knows what to expect, starting with Indians manager Terry Francona, who became a father figure as he dealt with a cancer scare as a rookie.

There are ex-teammates from those championship teams in 2007 (Coco Crisp) and 2013 (Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller) at Fenway Park. There is the accumulated experience from throwing 119 postseason innings (2.50 ERA) and becoming one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation.

“I don’t want to sound like a smart-ass, but we got a long ways to go,” Lester said. “I know that manager on their side’s going to be prepared. I know their coaching staff’s going to be ready. I know their players are going to be ready, just based on one player alone, and that’s Mike Napoli. I know what he brings to the table. He helped transform our 2013 team.

“Come Tuesday, we got to put the gloves back on. We got to get ready to fight and grind and do what we’ve done well all year. We got four more games to win.”

After limiting the Dodgers to two runs in 13 innings, and being named the NL Championship Series’ co-MVP along with Javier Baez, Lester should be a worthy Game 1 starter opposite Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

This is why Lester took a leap of faith with Cubs bosses/ex-Red Sox executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and chairman Tom Ricketts’ family and what had been a last-place team in 2014.

Two seasons into the $155 million contract that signaled the Cubs would be serious about contending – and not just in the Baseball America/Baseball Prospectus prospect rankings – the franchise has won 200 games and four playoff rounds and remained in position to dominate for years to come.

“Theo and Jed and the front office and Tom and all these guys had a belief,” Lester said. “I believed in that belief. The talent here speaks for itself. I didn’t do anything – I came here because I wanted to win in Chicago. I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this and get to this point.

“(But) we’re four hard wins away from doing what we set out to do in spring training.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

As bright as the future looks on the North Side, Lester will be 33 next season and his left arm has already accounted for more than 2,000 innings during his decorated career. John Lackey turned 38 on Sunday. Jake Arrieta only has one more season before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs built their franchise around young hitters, with the idea that they can figure out the pitching later with free agents, change-of-scenery trades and bounce-back guys. Easier said than done. They have a true No. 1 starter now in Lester, who as a free agent watched a recruiting video that imagined what it would be like when the Cubs win the World Series.

“This isn’t it,” Lester said. “It’s been a tough playoffs for us to this point and it’s only going to get tougher. We’re going to enjoy it. We’re going to show up Tuesday in Cleveland ready to play. We’ll see what happens.”

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Three quick fixes for some Bears woes while searching for a turnaround

Positives were difficult to find in last Thursday’s 26-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers. So maybe the place to look for improvement lies in just getting rid of a few negatives.

As far as positives, Leonard Floyd would be the obvious one, with two sacks, one a strip and fumble recovery for a TD. Ka’Deem Carey would be another, with 10 carries for 48 yards, his second straight game with high-impact running; Jordan Howard has been shackled for two weeks, so the Bears have needed another backfield-committee member contributing. Jeremy Langford may have trouble finding work when he comes back from his ankle injury.

But negatives have far outweighed positives, which is how you get to 1-6. Fixing three of those will go a long way toward improving their chances against a Minnesota Vikings team that appeared eminently beatable in losing at Philadelphia on Sunday:

Stop the penalty hemorrhaging

For the third straight game the Bears had 10 penalties walked off against them. This "streak" started after eight infractions in the win over Detroit. The 10 in Green Bay cost the Bears 108 yards in a game where their offense netted just 189. Seven of the penalties were charged to the defense, six of which gave the Packers first downs.

The three offensive penalties were mental. A wide receiver (Alshon Jeffery) lined up offsides. The quarterback (Matt Barkley) drew a delay flag. An offensive lineman (Ted Larsen) was illegally downfield.

All of which point to a discipline problem getting worse, not better. Whether the fault lies with players losing focus or coaches not instilling a mindset is a debate, but meaningless if the problem is not addressed. “There were a lot of penalties out there,” said cornerback De’Vante Bausby, who committed three of those penalties. “We had a good scheme and plan but we just didn’t finish in the second half as a group.”

Stop the dinking

While Brian Hoyer replacing Jay Cutler scaled back the downfield element of the offense, the loss of an emerging Kevin White should not be understated. The de facto rookie may not have gotten in the end zone but he was leading the team in receptions before he suffered a broken leg in the win over Detroit.

Since the loss of White, however, the offense has shrunk. The Bears averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt through four games with White. Without White the average is 7.0, and that is including the blip in Indianapolis, which stands as a complete anomaly. The average was 5.9 in the Jacksonville loss and 5.0 in Green Bay.

Hoyer’s ball-security orientation has been a positive, but also a limiting factor. Cutler last year had one of the best ball-security seasons of his career, yet the offense was able to average 7.5 yards per attempt.

The Bears scored two of their three rushing touchdowns in games with White, who may not yet be the field-stretcher his 4.35 speed but the prospect of White arguably made for a more threatening offense than even with the contributions of Cam Meredith.

Stop the Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings have suffered injuries at a rate like the Bears’ but have overcome them. Until Sunday in Philadelphia, when the Eagles sacked Sam Bradford six times and hit him more than a dozen other times. The Vikings never sacked Carson Wentz, who wasn’t special but was good enough while Minnesota was self-destructing.

The Vikings have beaten the Bears the last three times they’ve met, the first time that’s happened since 1999 and 2000, which is also the last time the Bears started 1-6. And the Bears have lost three straight.

The Bears were able to end the first three-game skid by focusing on one game: the Lions. The result was shutting down a very good offense, the lowest yardage-allowed (263) of the season and the firmest commitment to the run game (29) attempts.

Morale inside the locker room can only be revived by a win. One game. This game.