Word on the Street: Cubs looking at Berkman?

Word on the Street: Cubs looking at Berkman?

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
CSNChicago.com

Cubs interested in signing Lance Berkman?

Looking to add some left-handed pop to their lineup without paying too much, Fox Sports writer Ken Rosenthal claims the Cubs are looking into former Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman. Berkman was primarily used at first base after being traded to the New York Yankees late in 2010, but says he wants to play the field again. (foxsports.com)
No arbitration offer for Pierzynski an interesting choice

The White Sox chose to offer salary arbitration to free agents Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz, but declined the option on A.J. Pierzynski and Manny Ramirez. While the Ramirez choice isn't shocking, the Pierzynski decision is a bit of a head-scratcher. How could declining to offer Pierzynski actually be beneficial for the White Sox and aid in the veteran's return to the South Side? (examiner.com)

Chicago home to "Hole of the Year"

Golf Digest's Ron Whitten handed out his 2010 awards in the December issue of the magazine and Chicago Highlands won big. Located in west suburban Westchester, the courses par-3 13th hole won the "Hole of the Year" award.

"It's shaped like a volcano ... blow it left, right, short or over the green, and the ball could roll 60 yards down. It's a giant chocolate drop of a hole, a pyramid of grass, the Iwo Jima of golf," wrote Whitten. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Scott Boras potentially in trouble with Players Union

Baseball super-agent Scott Boras, agent to some of the greatest players in the game over the last two decades including Alex Rodriguez, Greg Maddux, and Barry Bonds, may have violated the rules of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Boras is accused of providing tens of thousands of dollars of loans and payments to Dominican teenage prospects. According to the union's regulations, loans of more than 500 to players andor their families are prohibited unless the reason for the loan is disclosed to the players union.

The money obligates them to the agent, gives the agent leverage, and coerces the athlete to do what the agent wants because of fear of foreclosure or other adverse consequences for the athlete or the athletes family, said Mark S. Levinstein, a prominent sports lawyer who is a partner at the Washington law firm Williams & Connolly.

If found to be in violation of the union's rules, Boras could be subject to fines or even have his rights to represent players revoked. (The New York Times)
Vick featured on SI cover

Michael Vick has quickly become the most talked about player in the entire NFL, and this week Sports Illustrated is jumping on the bandwagon, featuring Vick on the cover of the this week's issue of the magazine. The cover, and the infamous jinx to those featured on it, add even more hype to this Sunday's Bears-Eagles game at Soldier Field. For their part, the Bears are convinced they can stop Vick.

"We believe in our defense and it's set up to play guys like him. We give him all the respect in the world, but our guys are excited about playing against not just Mike Vick, it's more than Michael Vick, the Philly offense. They have good skill guys all the way around," said coach Lovie Smith. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Heat flounder against Pacers, fall to 8-6

The star-studded Miami Heat, once the subject of talks as to whether or not they could best the 1995-96 Bulls NBA-record 72-10 regular season record, have lost their second consecutive game, bringing their season record to 8-6. Their most recent loss, a 93-77 dismantling at the hands of the Indiana Pacers, was the teams worst offensive performance of the year and came just hours after learning that they would lose their top reserve Udonis Haslem indefinitely due to a foot injury.

After their most recent loss, the Heat would have to go 64-4 for the remainder of the season to tie the Bulls' record. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

NFLPA writes to Quinn, Daley about potential lockout

The NFL Players Association's president Kevin Mawae wrote a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard Daley on Monday, warning the two of the massive amount of money that the state and city could lose if the NFL is locked out in 2011.

Mawae claimed in the letter that if the NFL does not play in 2011, the city and state stand to lose as much as 160 million. (SB Nation Chicago)

Morandini to manage Phillies Class-A squad

Former Cubs second baseman Mickey Morandini was named Manager of the Phillies Class-A Williamsport Croscutters on Monday. Prior to taking the job with the Phillies, Morandini was a baseball coach at Valparaiso High School in northwest Indiana. Morandini played two years with the Cubs, including their 1998 season in which they won the National League wild card. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Morning Update: Theo Epstein gets big extension, White Sox win fifth straight

Morning Update: Theo Epstein gets big extension, White Sox win fifth straight

Preview: Jose Quintana, White Sox look to win sixth straight game on CSN

Clubhouse frustration bubbling up for Cubs and Jake Arrieta

White Sox manager Robin Ventura declines to discuss future amid speculation about return

Five more years: Theo Epstein signs massive contract extension with Cubs

Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling taking advantage of No. 1 reps

Making adjustments nothing new for new Bulls star Dwyane Wade

Fire shut out in loss at streaking Seattle

Bears defensive problems vs. Cowboys not complicated (unfortunately)

Notre Dame players react to the firing of Brian VanGorder

New tone set in Bulls training camp marked by role adjustments

Clubhouse frustration bubbling up for Cubs and Jake Arrieta

Clubhouse frustration bubbling up for Cubs and Jake Arrieta

PITTSBURGH — We interrupt your regularly scheduled coverage of The Plan and that wacky, fun-loving Cubs team to bring you a snapshot of clubhouse frustration.

Jake Arrieta sounded defensive while talking to reporters after Wednesday night’s 8-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, standing in front of his locker and second-guessing manager Joe Maddon. On the other side of the room, veteran catcher Miguel Montero questioned the way the Cubs are preparing for the playoffs with Cactus League scripts.

The postgame questions started with Arrieta’s first-inning issues with umpire Chris Guccione’s strike zone. When reporters mentioned Maddon’s positive spin on a seven-run outing, Arrieta dismissed those happy-talk answers about his stuff — “it just wasn’t crisp” — and then wondered why he went from throwing to Montero to rookie Willson Contreras.

“The feeling of the game, from the first pitch, just wasn’t there,” Arrieta said. “Switching catchers just felt like we were trying to do a little too much instead of win a ballgame. But I didn’t throw well, no way around it.”

Montero went with a similar passive-aggressive tone, riffing on how the Cubs will maintain their edge almost two weeks after clinching the National League Central title and nine days before their first playoff game at Wrigley Field.

“Did it feel like spring training?” Montero said. “I do believe that. And that’s not a good feeling for a pitcher, for a player, to go into a game knowing that you’re going to play just four innings or five innings or whatever it is.

“This game is still important for all the players. It’s still important for every single guy. I don’t want to go out there not caring about winning or losing. That’s not my mentality. My mentality is going out there because I want to win, regardless.

“We have to trick our mind. Because if that’s how we’re going to go the rest of the way, I guess we need to trick ourselves.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get your NL Central champions gear right here]

Unprompted, Montero brought up the Pirates scoring three runs in the ninth inning on Tuesday night before the Cubs hung on for a 6-4 victory — without using Aroldis Chapman — as Maddon tries to keep the bullpen fresh for the playoffs.

“We didn’t have our closer warming up,” Montero said. “That’s something I take personally because I’m catching and I want to win.

“It’s hard. I understand (Joe’s) point. And I understand the organization’s point. I respect it. I can only control what I can control. It is what it is.”

OK then, the Cubs are still a 101-win team and the NL’s No. 1 seed. But this became a sharp contrast to all the backslapping after the pregame announcement of Theo Epstein’s monster contract extension. And Arrieta didn’t look like a reigning Cy Young Award winner, giving up 10 hits while John Jaso — who does look like a Pirate — lined a curveball into the right-field seats for a three-run homer in the fourth inning and hit for the cycle.

“We’re moving on,” Arrieta said. “We’ll prepare for the next one. I don’t like giving up seven runs. I’m pissed about that. But moving forward, everything’s fine.”

With Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks lined up at the front of the playoff rotation, Arrieta’s next start is almost two weeks away.

“It doesn’t matter,” Arrieta said. “I’ll throw sides. I’ll prepare. And whoever I face first round — they’re going to be in trouble.”

After burning through 103 pitches in five innings, Arrieta’s regular-season odometer is now at 197 1/3 innings, but he has zero interest in a gimmick that would get him to 200 this weekend against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

“Listen, I want to pitch on a schedule,” Arrieta said. “I don’t want to throw an inning in a game. I’m not trying to do anything different. Let’s just prepare like we normally do and go out and try to win games. I’m not trying to throw a bullpen in a game.”

Look, if this isn’t trouble in paradise, then it’s obvious that the Cubs are a hyper-competitive group that knows what’s at stake in October and has some independent thinkers and strong personalities. And that Arrieta’s unreal 2015 season created impossible standards for this year that couldn’t be met with an 18-8 record and a 3.10 ERA, the type of numbers that still get pitchers $200 million contracts.

“I don’t think you know how hard this game is unless you play it,” Arrieta said. “I feel I can have another season like that. People have done it before. Why can’t I do it? I can do it again. So, yeah, I appreciate it. But at the same time, that’s what you strive for. That’s why you work hard. You go out and you try to perform that way.”