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)

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

Cubs: The next steps for Kyle Schwarber

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Kyle Schwarber might have been the most dangerous hitter in a World Series lineup that featured the National League MVP plus four more All-Stars. After spending more than six months recovering from major knee surgery. Against Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and a dominant Cleveland Indians bullpen.

“He’s not going to play winter ball,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said with a perfect deadpan delivery. “We felt like he proved he can hit major-league pitching.”

The Cubs spent Monday at the winter meetings inside the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, continuing their search for pitching on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. The Cubs are so stacked with hitters that manager Joe Maddon could write out a 2017 Opening Day lineup tomorrow and Theo Epstein’s front office would still have Jorge Soler left over as trade bait.

Schwarber could hit second for the defending World Series champs, and his presence would mean more than any player the Cubs could sign as a free agent. The Cubs expect him to be at full strength by spring training, though it’s unclear how much work, if any, he’ll get as a catcher.

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“That’s the hurdle we haven’t really gone over yet,” Hoyer said. “Can he do it? There’s no question he’s going to want to do it. I think he can do it. I think that we have to have discussions about how heavy a workload we put on him in that regard.

“One of the things we talked about even last year before he got hurt was (how) he’s doing full catching drills, running around the outfield, doing stuff hitting. That’s a lot to put on a guy, sort of like playing two ways in football.”

Schwarber, an all-Ohio linebacker in high school, has a run-through-a-brick-wall mentality and doesn’t like to hear about what he can’t do. He wrecked his left knee in an outfield collision in early April and needed a procedure that reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL.

It took only two warm-up games in the Arizona Fall League before Schwarber made his dramatic return as the designated hitter at Progressive Field, batting .412 (7-for-17) with a .971 OPS during the World Series. 

The Cubs appear to be set with Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero behind the plate, but Schwarber is the type of baseball gym rat who enjoys breaking down video, giving input for scouting reports and being involved in every pitch.  

“We have to talk through all that stuff,” Hoyer said. “We know what his position’s going to be, so we have to figure out what our position’s going to be. I know he’s going to want to catch.

“But he knows he’s coming in as a left fielder next year. And we have to decide how much of the catching drills (he does).”

Kenley Jansen? Wade Davis? Cubs keeping an open mind for the ninth inning

Kenley Jansen? Wade Davis? Cubs keeping an open mind for the ninth inning

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The San Francisco Giants had been three outs away from forcing an elimination game that Johnny Cueto would have started at Wrigley Field – and five different relievers couldn’t protect a three-run lead against a Cubs team that made a stunning comeback.

That October crash reverberated throughout the winter meetings as a $10 billion industry gathered outside Washington, D.C. The Giants bought peace of mind for the ninth inning on Monday and finalized a four-year, $62 million deal with Mark Melancon. For the moment, that will be the biggest contract ever for a closer, at least until Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman shatter that record.

The Cubs have been in contact with Jansen’s camp, sources said, monitoring his market to see if there might be a match as the World Series champs try to upgrade the bullpen this week at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.

Theo Epstein’s front office doesn’t necessarily have a singular focus – believe the reports linking the Cubs to Kansas City Royals closer Wade Davis – or the appetite to win a Jansen bidding war that will include the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins and perhaps the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals.

But after telling everyone that they did two offseasons in one last winter – and spending almost $290 million on free agents – this is where the Cubs could make a splash.

“It’s safe to say we’re kicking the tires on any pitching that’s available,” general manager Jed Hoyer said during his briefing with the Chicago media. “We’re not spending a lot of time on bats. We’re spending a lot of times on arms. Anyone that’s available, we’re going to sort of be in on and talking about.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon watched Jansen’s cutter up close and gave this endorsement during the National League Championship Series: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera.”

Jansen, a homegrown Dodger, converted from catcher and developed into an elite closer, saving 189 games while putting up a 2.20 career ERA and 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Jansen just turned 29 and already showed a willingness to pitch outside the ninth inning and go for more than three outs, something that didn’t come easily for Chapman in an October where former Yankee teammate Andrew Miller became an American League Championship Series MVP for the Cleveland Indians.

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“The postseason was reliever-centric,” Hoyer said. “Bullpens have always been really valuable, but I think the way they were used and talked about – really, not even this postseason, but the last two or three postseasons – people are definitely putting a lot of financial importance on having a good bullpen.”

Kansas City’s blueprint for winning back-to-back pennants and the 2015 World Series featured Davis, who posted a 0.94 ERA during that championship season. But Davis dealt with a strained right forearm this year and will make $10 million in his final season before free agency, at a time when the Royals can begin to see their window to contend closing.

The Cubs haven’t made Chapman a priority – and Epstein’s group has been philosophically opposed to the idea of investing big money in a closer – but they also know they probably don’t get that parade down Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue without that blockbuster deal with the Yankees.

“We see the value of it,” Hoyer said. “Look, we traded a great young prospect in Gleyber Torres to get Chapman, because we felt like that was an area that we were a little bit short. We felt like in order to win the World Series, we had to have that kind of guy at the end of the game. It proved to be right.

“In order to get those really difficult final outs in the postseason, having an elite guy is certainly a huge advantage.”

So if the White Sox become the Chicago team that makes most of the headlines here – and in-house options like Hector Rondon, Carl Edwards Jr. and Pedro Strop disappoint – the Cubs can always reassess at the trade deadline.

“We’ll bolster our bullpen,” Hoyer said. “Whether you do that by adding just a number of good relievers – or whether we do it by adding a guy that’s sort of a known closer – I’m not sure. But we’ll definitely add to our bullpen.”