Word on the Street: Cubs to consider Cliff Lee?

Word on the Street: Cubs to consider Cliff Lee?

Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010
CSNChicago.com

Cliff Lee to the Cubs?

It may be unlikely, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote Friday that the Cubs could be among the three or four potential suitors for the lefty this offseason. Over the last two seasons, Lee has led two different clubs through the difficult final months of the regular season and deep into the playoffs. Sherman speculates that his success in leading the Phillies and Rangers deep into the postseason could spur more teams into the hunt for Lee this winter - including the Cubs. (NYPost)

Blackhawks recall Brophey

The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled forward Evan Brophey from the American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs.

Brophey, 23, has appeared in all six of Rockford's regular-season contests this season, scoring two goals and pacing the IceHogs with a 4 rating. Chicago's fourth selection (68th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Kitchener, Ontario, native has registered 36 goals and 56 assists over the course of 238 career regular-season AHL tilts with Rockford from 2007-10. (sbnation.com)
NBA looks to cut salary by 800 million

Sports fans may find themselves in a strange predicament in 2011 as both the NBA and NFL seem to be heading towards lockouts. The NBA, which currently spends 2.1 billion per year on player salaries and benefits, wants to cut player salaries by around 800 million to help make the league profitable once again. The league claims it lost 400 million last year and expects to lose about 350 million this year.

"We would like to get profitable, have a return on investment," NBA commissioner David Stern said Thursday. "There's a swing of somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 to 800 million that we would like to change." (NY Daily News)

NFL: Favre investigation ongoing

The NFL says it is still investigating allegations that Vikings quarterback Brett Favre sent inappropriate photos and text messages to former New York Jets game hostess Jenn Sterger in 2008 when Favre played for the team. Sterger's manager told the Associated Press that she is "strongly considering" talking to the NFL officials conducting the investigation. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Sox's Hahn not going to New York

The New York Mets said Friday that they have narrowed their search for a new general manager to two names; Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes. White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn had previously been rumored to be a candidate for the job but is now apparently out of the running. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Briggs likely to play vs. Redskins

Though he was limited in practice on Thursday, it looks like Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs will be healthy enough to play in Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. Briggs was held out of last week's game against Seattle with a sprained ankle.
(NationalFootballPost.com)

Ex-Rams WR: Martz can be too stubborn

Ex-Rams wide receiver Ricky Proehl played under Mike Martz for five years in St. Louis, including the 1999 "Greatest Show on Turf" Super Bowl championship season. Proehl, no doubt, benefited from Martz's pass-heavy offensive mindset, but as he told "The Danny Mac Show" on WSCR-AM 670, he believes Martz is sometimes too stubborn for his own good.

Proehl pointed to something Martz told the Rams during their 20-17 Super Bowl XXXVI loss to the New England Patriots.

"New England did a great job game-planning our offense and they showed blitz and dropped into zone," Proehl said. "They basically rushed three and dropped eight. His comment was, "We're going to throw the football anyway," and that kind of upset us as players." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

More ex-Hawks get their rings

Blackhawks vice president Alan Maclsacc flew to Atlanta on Friday to personally deliver Dusting Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd, John Torchetti and Ben Eager their 2009 championship rings. (Chicago.SBNation.com)

Cubs to sign Adam Dunn?

Baseball agent Matt Sosnick said in an interview that he believes the Cubs are the most likely destination for free agent outfielderfirst baseman Adam Dunn. Dunn played for the Nationals in 2010 and put up a .260 batting average with 38 homers and 103 runs batted in.

"If I was going to guess, I would say Adam Dunn is probably going to the Cubs, and he'll probably get, you know, 3 years and 40 million bucks," said Sosnick. (ChicagoNow)

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to pull their names out of the NBA Draft passed on Wednesday at midnight.

There were a few surprises, and a handful of decisions had an effect on how the Bulls will go about next month's draft.

Staying in the draft

Caleb Swangian, PF, Purdue: The sophomore All-American surprised many by keeping his name in the draft. Swanigan actually tested the waters after his freshman season but returned to the Boilermakers in 2016. He averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors and was a National Player of the Year candidate. It's no secret the 6-foot-9 Swangian can score  - he had 15 games of 20 or more points - and showed some ability to shoot from deep, making nearly 45 percent of his 85 3-point attempts. Quickness and conditioning will be the real test for the 245-pound Swanigan, who has already lost significant weight since high school. Questions about his defense (he had just 27 steals and 36 blocks in two seasons) also stand out. With Nikola Mirotic's future in Chicago unknown, the Bulls could be in the market for depth at power forward. He wouldn't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14, but if he slides out of the first round he could be an option at No. 38.

D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan: After averaging just 6.1 minutes as a sophomore, Wilson burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes for the Wolverines. He did his best work during the postseason; during Michigan's Big Ten Championship run and Sweet 16 appearance, Wilson averaged 15.6 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Standing 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Wilson leaves some to be desired on the defensive end but has the ability to play as a combo forward - he had a 3-inch growth spurt after high school. Like Swanigan, Wilson won't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14 but could be a second-round option. He'd give the Bulls a similar look to what Bobby Portis does with a little more versatility on the wing.

Going back to college

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: The NBA Draft's biggest mystery could have been a home-run selection for the Bulls in the first round. Alas, Diallo has decided to play a year under John Calipari at Kentucky and likely boost his draft stock. Having not played since December, where he played at a prep academy in Connecticut, so there wasn't much film of the 6-foot-5 leaper. Still, after Thon Maker went No. 10 to the Bucks last year there was thought that a team would take a gamble on a high-upside mystery.

Andrew Jones, PG, Texas: There was little surprise that Jones, a five-star recruit who put together a solid freshman season, returned. He's still a bit raw as a prospect despite having elite size (6-foot-4) and solid athleticism, and another year running the point with incoming five-star recruit Mo Bomba could really improve his draft stock. The Bulls clearly have a need at the point (less if Rajon Rondo returns) and if Jones had made the leap he likely would have been around at No. 38. Even still, Jones is a player to keep an eye on during next year's draft, assuming Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant don't make significant improvements.

Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan: There's a need on every NBA team for a stretch forward with 3-point potential. But those teams will have to wait at least another year after Wagner decided to return to Michigan for his junior season. Like Wilson, who kept his name in the draft, Wagner had an excellent postseason run for the Wolverines. That stretch included a 17-point effort against Minnesota and a career-high 26-point outing in a win over Louisville. He weighed in at just 231 pounds and only averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, so adding some strength to his game will help his draft prospect for next year. He could have been an option for the Bulls at No. 38.

White Sox: Jose Abreu's five-week tear filled with hard contact, fewer strikeouts

White Sox: Jose Abreu's five-week tear filled with hard contact, fewer strikeouts

Jose Abreu has made quite a turnaround from being a guy who was admittedly lost to bashing the ball like Abreu of old.

From April 19th on, Abreu has hit at another level, reminiscent of the performances he put on throughout an eye-opening 2014 campaign in which he was the unanimous American League rookie of the year winner. Over that stretch, Abreu has slashed at an absurd .347/.404/.677 clip with nine doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 136 plate appearances.

Earlier this week, Abreu said the run is the product of trusting his tireless preparation.

"I struggled in the first few weeks of the season but I kept working," Abreu said through an interpreter. "Now I'm at this point where I feel very good and confident with my offense and things are going well for me. That's part of what you work for and if you work hard, you know the results will be there at the end of the day."

Two numbers that have improved significantly during Abreu's five-week tear are his average exit velocity and strikeout rate.

Abreu entered Wednesday 39th in the the majors with an average exit velocity of 90.5 mph this season, according to Baseball Savant.

But Abreu wasn't hitting the ball nearly as hard early this season, which was littered with weak contact. Abreu stumbled out of the gate with a .157 average, one extra-base hit and only five RBIs in his first 54 plate appearances. Through the first two weeks, Abreu's average exit velocity was 89.0 mph on 31 batted-ball events, which was slightly down from last season's 89.6 mph average and significantly down from 2015, when he averaged 90.9 mph.

Since then, however, Abreu has seen a significant increase in hard contact. Over his last 92 batted-ball events, Abreu is averaging 92.6 mph, a total that would qualify for 15th in the majors this season. Included in that span is 35 balls hit 100 mph or more.

But Abreu's success isn't just related to how hard he has hit the ball. He's also made much better contact this season and is striking out less than ever. Abreu struck out 14 times in his first 54 plate appearances (25.9 percent). But since then, he has whiffed only 17 times in 136 plate appearances, good for a 12.5 percent strikeout rate.

His season K-rate of 16.3 percent, according to Fangraphs.com, is down from a career mark of 19.6 percent.

"You have started to see him heat up a little," manager Rick Renteria said earlier this week. "He's given us solid at-bats. He's in a good place right now."

Actually, it's a great place and one Abreu hasn't done with consistency since 2015. He once again looks like the hitting machine he was for most of his first two seasons and the final two months of 2016.

Abreu is on pace to hit 36 home runs this season, which would match his 2014 total. His current wRC+ of 138 is his highest since he finished 2014 at 167.

Last season, Abreu didn't hit his 10th home run until June 18. He hit his 11th homer on June 23 and then didn't hit another until August 4. That stretch raised myriad questions both inside the organization and externally about whether or not Abreu would return to prominence as a hitter. Perhaps inspired by the August arrival of his son, Dariel, Abreu finished 2016 with a flurry, hitting .340/.402/.572 with 14 home runs in his final 241 plate appearances.

General manager Rick Hahn said last September that the stretch was important for White Sox evaluators to see.

"It certainly makes you more confident as you see him over the last six weeks, projecting out that he's going to be that same player that he was for the first two years of his career," Hahn said. "Earlier, when he was scuffling, you looked at some of the things he was doing from his approach or some of the mechanical issues he might have been having and you felt confident he was going to be able to get back. But in all candor, you like seeing the performance match what you're projecting and we've certainly seen that over the last six weeks."

The White Sox offense has benefitted from Abreu's leap back into prominence. The team has averaged 4.53 runs per game this season and is 9th in the American League with 204 runs scored and 17th overall in the majors. But the increase in offense still hasn't helped the White Sox improve in the standings. While Abreu is glad to be on the roll he is, he'd prefer if his team is along for the ride.

"We're are passing through a tough moment, a rough stretch," Abreu said. "For me as I've always said the team is first. I want to thank God for how I've performed through this rough stretch. But it's not something makes me feel happy because we didn't win as many games as we wanted to win. It's tough."