Word on the Street: OJ Mayo to the Bulls?

Word on the Street: OJ Mayo to the Bulls?

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011

OJ Mayo to the Bulls?

The Bulls completed a deal Tuesday evening, sending James Johnson to the Toronto Raptors for a first round draft pick; could it have been a precursor to a move for Grizzlies guard OJ Mayo? According to Mark Stein, the Bulls have not yet abandoned all hope of acquiring Mayo, who has seen his minutes cut in Memphis. (Chicago NowHoops In View)

Noah to start vs. Raptors

It's been 30 games since the Bulls last had their full starting lineup on the floor, but that streak will end on Wednesday against Toronto. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Tuesday that Noah will be in the starting lineup against the Raptors, making his first start since Dec. 15. The Bulls went an impressive 22-8 in Noah's absence thanks to the contributions of Kurt Thomas and Omer Asik.

"My thumb feels a lot better," Noah said Tuesday after practice. "I'm very excited. Its been a while. I think it will take a little while to get into game shape. But I promise to give it all I've got." (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Baker still holds bad memories of Chicago

Dusty Baker still has some less-than-fond memories of his time on the north side of Chicago, starting with a rather-disgusting story of what was left where he sat in the dugout. Baker also commented on how quick the turnover rate is for Cubs managers.

They turn over their managers pretty quick, Baker observed. They dont stick with anybody for a period of time, because everybodys counting Year 100, Year 101, Year 102. Theres no such thing as a four- or five-year plan. Its a one-year plan.

I was one of the top managers around, supposedly, and then all of a sudden I dont know (expletive), know what I mean? They (the critics) were always looking for something critical, ever since I went there (to Chicago). (FoxSports)

Williams uncomfortable with Sox payroll

Kenny Williams is not a fan of high salaries, a fact he has made perfectly clear over the past few days. He went further on Tuesday, saying that he is not comfortable with the Sox' 125 million 2011 payroll.

"Hell, no," Williams said. "I'm not comfortable with the payroll right now. We're out on a limb. But that's our choice. We made the choice in an effort to give our fans hope and give ourselves a chance to compete for a championship." (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Ex-Cub Grudzielanek retires

Journeyman second baseman, and former-Cub, Mark Grudzielanek has announced his retirement. Grudzielanek, 40, first broke into the major leagues in 1995 with the Montreal Expos, but Chicagoans will remember him best for helping the Cubs reach the NLCS in 2003. He retires with 2,040 career hits and a lifetime .289 batting average. (FoxSports)

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Call it variations on a theme. The Bears on Monday night will face not only the Minnesota Vikings, but also Sam Bradford, the latest quarterback opponent that hints at possibilities in the Bears’ own future far beyond what was once the norm.

That norm is what can reasonably be expected from a new quarterback, one coming into a new system, new environment, even a new league, and having near-immediate success. Quarterback changes can involve upheaval of staff, personnel and even franchise identity, as the Bears can confirm based on their last eight years with Jay Cutler.

The experiences in Dallas, Minnesota and Philadelphia point to the kinds of quarterback transitions the Bears may be in search of after the 2016 season.

Bradford arrived in Minnesota via trade just eight days before the season opener, yet has proceeded to post the best results of his career: for completion percentage (67.5), interception percentage (0.6 percent; 7 TD’s vs. 1 INT), yards per attempt (7.4) and rating (100.3, vs. a previous best of 90.9).

More important, without the Vikings’ starting left tackle (Matt Kalil) and running back (Adrian Peterson), Bradford has the Vikings leading the NFC North and tied for the NFC lead at 5-1.

“[The Vikings] had the misfortune of losing their quarterback, they go out and make a bold move to get him and they haven’t missed a beat offensively,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “He’s been getting better and better.”

This all holds particular relevance for the Bears, who saw Brian Hoyer step in and deliver four straight 300-yard passing games, something he’d never done in his career and no quarterback in Bears franchise history had done. Cutler’s personal best was two straight, for purposes of comparison.

The Bears are expected to have a new quarterback in some form or other next year. In the meantime they have been victimized by two rookie quarterbacks already this season (Carson Wentz, Philadelphia, and Dak Prescott, Dallas). The experience of Bradford, Prescott and Wentz, all new in 2017 to their situations, suggests chances of dramatic improvement over the Bears’ recent history with Cutler, for example.

“A good quarterback can influence the guys and make guys around him better,” Wentz said. “So it’s one of those things where the quarterback usually gets too much credit and too much of the blame as well. It’s just kind of the nature of the position.”

Prescott and Wentz were 2016 draft choices and had offseasons and training camps with their respective teams. Bradford had none of that, yet began his year throwing 130 passes without an interception.

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How that happens may be illustrative for the 2017 Bears. The Vikings traded for Bradford, a one-time starter for the Rams and Eagles. But because of the late-offseason timing of the deal, necessitated by the season-ending leg injury for Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford had to be eased into the new offense.

“I think that’s honestly one of the bonuses of coming during the regular season,” Bradford said on Thursday. “Obviously it would’ve been nice to have some practices in training camp. But once you get into the regular season, it’s not like you have the whole playbook in each game plan. Each game plan is very specific for that week’s opponent, so it’s considerably less than would be in your training-camp installs.

“So I think that helped a little bit. But as far as it being cut down, the volume wasn’t so much cut down as how the plays were called, naming some concepts with some things I was familiar with. That really helped me.”

Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell among four Cubs finalists for Gold Glove Award

Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell among four Cubs finalists for Gold Glove Award

Four Cubs have been recognized for their defense in 2016 on Thursday.

Jake Arrieta, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell were all named finalists for the Gold Glove Award at their respective positions. Winners will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Arrieta was tied for second among National League pitchers with five Defensive Runs Saved. Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon led with eight.

Heyward, who's a three-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, had the most DRS for right fielders with 14 and also led Defensive Wins Above Replacement with 1.3. 

Rizzo's .996 field percentage ranked fifth among first basemen in the NL.

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Russell was tied for most DRS among NL shortstops with 19 (the second-best had nine).

The two most notable Cubs left off the list were Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist due to their versatility throughout the regular season.