Word on the Street: Kerry Wood returning to Cubs?

Word on the Street: Kerry Wood returning to Cubs?

Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010
CSNChicago.com

Sullivan's death weighs on Notre Dame players, University to investigate

Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old student filming practice, died after his video lift toppled in windy conditions. Several Irish players then took to Twitter to post their thoughts on the tragedy.

A post from linebacker Brian Smith read: "In the midst of a season where you are disappointed with the outcomes ... you can lose sight of what's most important. Sad day at practice."

From defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore: "Never take life for granted I hate that some times it takes something like this to realize this"

In addition, the University will open an investigation into Sullivan's passing.

"There is a lot to learn here, we will learn it all, we will learn it in an expeditious manner," athletic director Jack Swarbrick promised during a Thursday news conference. (chicagobreakingsports.com)

Race a factor in Bears nightclub incident?

Bears veterans took the rookies out on Monday night for their traditional sinner but things didn't go as planned when Angels & Kings in Chicago turned away the group. While it's purely speculation at this point, some members of the team, including Lance Briggs and Israel Idonije believe the act was racially motivated.

Kerry Wood returning to Cubs?

Kerry Wood began his career as a dominant flame-thrower at the friendly confines of Wrigey Field, could he make a return? According to multiple sources, the Cubs would welcome Wood back to bolster their bullpen if payroll permits that they can.

Wood, 33, could serve as a quality set-up man to Carlos Marmol and figures to look for a multi-year deal in the 6-8 million range. After a mid-season trade send Wood from the Cleveland Indians to the New York Yankees, Wood posted a 0.69 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 24 games. (cubbiescrib.com)

Bears DT Anthony Adams wins Ed Block Courage Award

Chicago Bears DT Anthony Adams was named the team's recipient of the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award today. The prestigious award is presented to one player on all 32 NFL teams who best exemplifies a commitment to sportsmanship and courage and serves as an inspiration in the locker room. The recipients of the award, who are voted on by their teammates, symbolize professionalism, great strength and dedication, and they are considered community role models.

Know as a leader throughout the locker room, Adams is in his fourth year with the Bears after spending his first four NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. A hard worker with a humorous attitude, Adams has started 61 of 101 career games played in his NFL career, recording 289 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 22.5 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. (chicago.sbnation.com)

Illini lose one recruit, gain another

Rock Island point guard Chasson Randle announced Wednesday he will not attend the University of Illinois, choosing instead to play his college basketball at Stanford. Randle is ranked 68th in his class by Rivals.com.

However, there was good news on the recruiting front for the Illini, as De La Salle forward Mike Shaw announced he will take his talents to Champaign. Shaw is the No. 58 senior on Rivals.com. (dailyillini.com)

Bulls name Green Team Ambassador

Former Bull Sidney Green was named a Team Ambassador, the Bulls announced on Thursday. Green joins Scottie Pippen in that position. Green averaged 9.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game while playing for the Bulls from 1983-86.

"I would like to thank the Bulls organization for promoting me to this position," Green said. "I will work to my utmost ability to earn and justify the confidence the Bulls have shown in me. It is great to work for such a first-class organization, which is not only successful on the court but also is so committed to the betterment of our community. (chicagobulls.com)

Spartans police escort out of Evanston raises questions

Michigan State created a traffic gridlock as the team cut and weaved out of Illinois after defeating Northwestern on Saturday. In a maneuver usually reserved for U.S. presidents and other VIPs, Illinois State Police troopers for the first time escorted the Michigan State football caravan from Ryan Field on the Northwestern campus and along the Edens and Kennedy expressways toward Michigan. Previously, Evanston police would escort teams only to the entrance of the Edens Expressway in Skokie.

State police officials downplayed any negative impact, saying the traffic-stopping escort was no different from accompanying a funeral procession or a truck hauling an oversize load. (chicagotribune.com)

Agent: Martin Havlat underused by Wild

Allan Walsh, the agent of former Blackhawks winger Martin Havlat, spoke out about the Minnesota Wild's use of his client. Walsh claims that the Wild are limiting Havlat's playing time and, by doing so, his productivity.

"When Chuck reached out to Marty Havlat two summers ago after he led Chicago to the conference finals while leading the team in points in the regular season and playoffs, he shared a vision of building an up-tempo offensive team with Marty as a pillar to this strategy," Walsh said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. "That's why he signed with the Wild."Since that time, Marty has been used in a purely secondary role. Look at this season, he's played four straight games at about 14 minutes of ice time, he's used on the second power-play unit, he sits for long stretches, he's not used in the shootouts. At a certain point in time, one has to ask, 'Why is he here?' One has to ask, 'Why pay this guy 30 million to not play?' (startribune.com)

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Theo Epstein's front office is heading into Year 6 with the Cubs and they're finally talking about a pitcher as one of the organization's most exciting prospects.

That's how senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod framed his Dylan Cease report to fans at the Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand Chicago last weekend.

It was a tongue-in-cheek summation from McLeod after he spent the previous few minutes fawning over Cease, the Cubs' sixth round pick in 2014.

Of course, McLeod and the Cubs can poke fun at the lack of impact pitching the farm system has developed when the homegrown position players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber just helped lead the franchise to its first World Series championship in over a century.

Cease, however, has been one of the more intriguing Cubs prospects for years — a right-handed pitcher capable of touching 101 mph on the radar gun.

"This guy is throwing lightning bolts out of his arm," McLeod said. "It's really exciting. But we also understaned he's only in Low-A this year, so he's far away."

The Cubs expect Cease to pitch for Class-A South Bend in 2017 after spending last season pitching for short-season Eugene and the 2015 campaign working in the rookie league in Arizona.

Cease — who just turned 21 in late December — put up some impressive numbers at both stops in the Cubs system, posting a 2.36 ERA and 1.165 WHIP to go along with a whopping 91 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. He also only surrendered one homer and walked more batters (41) than reached via a basehit (39).

Control is obviously an issue for Cease, but the upside is evident.

"He's so far away," McLeod said. "He's gonna go into 2017 as a starter. As with a lot of young guys, it's gonna come down to command and depend on that third pitch and the ability to land them for strikes.

"It's a special arm. He can pitch 95-100 mph with a big power curveball. He's unlike anyone else we have in our system since we've been here in terms of pure stuff."

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One fan compared Cease to Carl Edwards Jr. in terms of their lanky build and high velocity, setting McLeod up for a layup joke.

"Well, Dylan is much stronger physically than CJ is...as is everybody in this room," McLeod said as the ballroom filled with laugher. "Don't tell [CJ] I said that. 

"They have different body types, obviously. Carl is long and lanky and Dylan has probably put on 20 pounds since we drafted him, so he's more like 6-foot-2, 190."

By comparison, Edwards — who goes by "The String Bean Slinger" for his slight build — is listed at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds.

Edwards was drafted in the 48th round in 2011 and spent his whole minor-league career as a starting pitcher until the Cubs converted him to a reliever in 2015.

Cease may eventually go down the same path, but the Cubs are going to give him every opportunity to make it as a starter first.

Cease was one of the top pitchers available in the 2014 draft, but his stock took a hit when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow while at Milton High School in Georgia.

That scared off a lot of teams — as did the potential signability issues with college offers looming — but the Cubs took a chance and have now watched Cease soar to a top prospect in the system (No. 4 by Baseball America; No. 7 by FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus) despite the cautious approach and lack of innings in professional ball.

"We have to thank Kyle Schwarber, actually, as one of the main reasons we got to sign Dylan Cease," McLeod said. "Because we took Kyle fourth overall, we were able to save money on the selection with him, which gave us the resources to go get Dylan Cease.

"He was a Top 10 pick in the draft — a high school arm that got hurt, fell down to the fifth round and he had a commitment to Vanderbilt, I think it was, and we were able to use the money we saved from Kyle.

"Just another reason to love Kyle Schwarber."

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon's Washington itinerary didn't include an hour-long sit-down with Chuck Todd for NBC's "Meet the Press." There would be no rehashing the manager's Game 7 decisions as he stood outside the West Wing, though the second question during the media stakeout involved "last year's team" and how the 2017 Cubs are prepared to defend a World Series title.

"You're already there, huh?" Maddon said to a CNN reporter, minutes after President Barack Obama's final official White House event ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

But last year's team is gone — preserved now in highlight films and the hearts and minds of generations of Cub fans — even if so many familiar faces will be in Mesa when pitchers and catchers officially report to Arizona on Valentine's Day.

It would be impossible to replicate everything that made the 2016 Cubs so special. Baseball has its own relentless pace and the dynamics are constantly shifting. (Remember when players were passive-aggressively complaining about Maddon's spring-training approach during the final week of a 103-win regular season?) The clubhouse chemistry will inevitably feel different after climbing a Mount Everest of professional sports.

"A mind once stretched has a very difficult time going back to its original form," Maddon said. "We're motivated by it. We want to do it again, of course. There's no question we're trying to do that.

"I'm really leaning on the phrase or the thought of being uncomfortable. I want us to be uncomfortable. I think the moment you get into your comfort zone after having such a significant moment in your life like that, the threat is that you're going to stop growing.

"So I really want us to be uncomfortable. I really want to continue (to see) a pattern of growth and really try to get at them very quickly again."

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Can Jason Heyward recover from one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors last year? Is Willson Contreras ready to be a frontline catcher? Will Javier Baez have to adjust back to being a role player after becoming a playoff superstar? Does Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in a center-field timeshare represent an upgrade over Dexter Fowler?

If healthy, Wade Davis should be a trusted, lower-maintenance closer than Aroldis Chapman, with an advanced approach to pitching and more clubhouse presence. As a staff, the Cubs will have to bounce back from pitching into early November (or not, in the case of the relievers Maddon didn't trust during the playoffs).

As it stands, Jon Lester (33) and John Lackey (38) have already combined to throw almost 5,000 innings in The Show (including the postseason). Jake Arrieta will have to deal with the pressure of playing for his megadeal in his final season before becoming a free agent.

The drop-off after Mike Montgomery — and it's still mostly projected potential with the No. 5 starter — appears to be very steep in an organization that doesn't have any high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

After painting the bull's-eye on the chest and turning "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" into viral T-shirts, a guy who hates meetings is still working on his themes for this campaign.

"I'm really rotating around the thought of authenticity," Maddon said. "I talked about it a lot last year, the fact that I think authenticity has a chance to repeat itself without even trying. It's part of who you are. It's not fabricated. It's real.

"I've talked about our guys a lot the last couple years. I think one of our strongest qualities is the authentic component of our players. So I'm really focusing on that word right now. Again, that's a great word to bring an entire message from (when) you get in front of the group that first day in spring training.

"I kind of just think like authenticity happens. And let's work it from there."

The costumes should be in midseason form with Maddon planning a house party around Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival before driving his RV from Florida to Arizona.

Maddon will turn 63 on Feb. 8 and have to keep evolving, just like his players, who might outgrow some of those gimmicks. But the Cubs are still a reflection of their future Hall of Fame manager.

Amid all the uncertainty in Washington, Maddon wouldn't touch a question about what advice he would give Donald Trump before Friday's inauguration.

"I'm not even going to go anywhere close to that," Maddon said. "I will say this: I have a lot of respect of the office.

"At the end of the day, just have a lot of respect for the office, regardless of your political persuasion. My point would be to encourage people to really respect the office and let's see what we get done here over the next four years."