Chicago Cubs

Word on the Street: Soccer at Wrigley?

Word on the Street: Soccer at Wrigley?

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Soccer at Wrigley?

In the last two years Wrigley Field has played host to professional hockey and college football; could soccer be next? Apparently, it's not that far-fetched of an idea. Hot Time in Old Town reports that Manchester United has had talks about hosting one of their annual pre-season "friendlies" at Wrigley Field. (SB Nation Hot Time in Old Town)

Packers to beat Bears for NFC Title?

Peter King of Sports Illustrated thinks so. In this week's magazine the SI collumnist predicts that the Packers and Bears, who met in week 17, will see each other again in the NFC Championship game. And King believes that the Packers will again top the Bears, landing themselves in the Super Bowl, where he predicts they will lose to the New England Patriots. (Sports Illustrated)

Notre Dame TE Rudolph going pro

According to sources, Fighting Irish tight end Kyle Rudolph - projected as the first tight end off the board int he NFL Draft - will turn pro and skip his senior season in South Bend.

Rudolph missed the last seven games of the 2010 season after hamstring surgery and missed time as a sophomore with a severely separated shoulder that required offseason surger. Rudolph finishes his collegiate career with 90 receptions for 1,032 yards and eight touchdowns. (irishillustrated.com)

Dennis Rodman has a new job

Former Bulls forward Dennis Rodman will appear in Kalamazoo and perform as a DJ as part of a reality show. Rodman will be a DJhost at a party in the Entertainment District on Jan. 28. Details about the event are still being finalized. (mlive.com)

ND grad named President of Chicagoland Speedway

Scott Paddock, a former Notre Dame Basketball player, has been named the new president of the Chicagoland Speedway. Paddock, 42, previously worked as the director of sports marketing for Gatorade.

"Scott is a proven professional sports marketing executive having managed Gatorade's involvement in NASCAR as well as the other major sports leagues like the NFL," said John Saunders, president of International Speedway Corporation. (Chicago Breaking Sports)

Skater Lysacek wins award

Olympic gold medalist and Naperville product Evan Lysacek has won the Thurman Munson Award given by the AHRC-New York City Foundation for supporting programs helping children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities live full and productive lives.

Past winners include Mike Piazza, Nick Swisher and Devin Harris. Lysacek will receive the award at a dinner on Feb. 1 in New York. (chicagobreakingsports.com)

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Breaking down how Cubs look at the Justin Verlander situation

Theo Epstein’s embrace-debate management style means the Cubs are constantly running through different scenarios, trying to balance their win-now urges against what should be a very bright future in Wrigleyville.

The financials, the human intelligence and the analytics are all factored into the equation, which leads to this question for Epstein’s cabinet: Is there a point where the Detroit Tigers kick in enough money and the prospect cost becomes so low that Justin Verlander makes sense for the Cubs?

The Cubs haven’t definitively answered that question yet or completely ruled out the idea, a team source said Tuesday, cautioning that the defending World Series champs are still more likely to add a reliever before the July 31 trade deadline than acquire a frontline starting pitcher.

“Always looking to make the team better,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 7-2 win over the White Sox kept the Cubs in a virtual first-place tie with the Milwaukee Brewers. “Always. That’s what a GM and a president does. But I like our guys.”  

Verlander would obviously benefit from a move to the National League and feel energized in a pennant race. The Cubs could rationalize this as an immediate boost and a long-range solution while preparing for a 2018 rotation without Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

Imagine the buzz from Kate Upton’s fiancée walking into the clubhouse and making his first start at Wrigley Field in a Cubs uniform. Verlander and Upton have been spotted enough times at Chicago Cut Steakhouse that his no-trade power might be the easiest hurdle to clear in a deal of this magnitude.

Verlander’s overall numbers are ordinary this season (5-7, 4.50 ERA, 1.444 WHIP), but trending in the right direction. The Cubs would go into it knowing that they wouldn’t get the same guy who won 24 games and American League MVP and Cy Young awards in 2011.

The Tigers also can’t just give away a franchise icon who finished second in last year’s AL Cy Young voting and has a 3.39 ERA in 16 career playoff starts

The Cubs are trying to see around corners and anticipate what the team will look like in 2018 and 2019 – when Verlander will make $28 million guaranteed each season – and what might be available in trades and on the free-agent market during those transaction cycles. Verlander is also owed the balance of his $28 million salary this season and has a $22 million vesting option for 2020.

Even if the Tigers pay down some of that commitment, that’s still a ton of exposure with a guy who has roughly 2,500 innings on his odometer and will be 35 years old around the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training next season. That’s also when the Cubs will begin the second half of Jon Lester’s $155 million megadeal – for his age-34, -35 and -36 seasons.

After stunning the baseball world with that blockbuster White Sox trade during the All-Star break, Epstein talked about how Jose Quintana’s reasonable contract – $8.85 million next season plus team options for 2019 and 2020 worth $22 million combined – creates room for another star player.

As great as Verlander has been throughout his career, are the Cubs really ready to pour that money back into a player who was born in 1983? And meet Detroit’s asking price in terms of prospects?

And go against the buy-low philosophy that attracted the Cubs to Arrieta, as well as the ageism that makes them reluctant to reinvest in their own Cy Young Award winner? And potentially close off opportunities to sign free agents from the monster class coming after the 2018 season?

Probably not, but the Cubs haven’t shut down the Verlander discussion yet.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs even up Crosstown Series with White Sox

Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Jordan Bernfield (ESPN) and Mark Potash (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap to talk Game 2 of the Crosstown Series.

Later, the group previews Bears camp and what's going on with the Cavaliers.

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: