Changes expected on Bears offensive line

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Changes expected on Bears offensive line

The assault on the Bears' offensive line didnt end when the group left San Francisco last Monday night. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice said Wednesday that the performances that allowed six sacks of Jason Campbell were being evaluated with an eye toward changing what and who didnt work.

And the quarterback who is expected to be behind that line Sunday against Jared Allen and the Minnesota Vikings was virtually conceding that the front five as it is currently constituted wasnt going to be enough.

Were going to have to help them, said quarterback Jay Cutler. Going to have to do some stuff protection-wise, chip, slant some guys, get the backs involved, some of the tight ends, be smart with our play-calling, try to limit the second-and-longs, third-and-long.

Theres a lot of things to do but ultimately theres going to be some times where weve got to let those five block and theyre going to have to do their jobs well.

That did not happen against San Francisco, where the only blockers to receive tolerable grades were center Roberto Garza and right guard Lance Louis. Not enough.

We have a couple of guys who are solid, who we can win with, Tice said. If three guys fail, you dont have much of a chance.

Right tackle Gabe Carimi was repeatedly embarrassed by bull rushes from undersized edge rusher Aldon Smith. Tice pointedly said of all his lineman that sometimes you have to buck up and win a fight, speaking about the inability of the tackles to handle straight-ahead power rushes.

Its pretty hard to chip and help out on bull rushes, Tice said.

Carimi went down in Week 2 last year with a season-ending knee injury. He has not indicated any problems this preseason and through the first 10 games of his de facto rookie season and Tice acknowledged that Carimi has handled himself as a professional.

But at the end of the day we all need better results," Tice said. Gabe is intense and if something happens early, he gets all worked up and doesnt settle down. It compounds and its happened more than once.

The alternative in a straight-up switch is veteran Jonathan Scott, signed after the first game but whose use has been largely as a third tight end.

Louis shifted from guard to tackle in 2010 and performed well enough in the Bears run to the NFC Championship game. But he has become arguably the Bears best lineman inside, a key if the Bears have any hope of establishing a viable run game.

In any case, Cutler left no doubt that what the front five did against the 49ers would not allow the Bears to be a winning football team.

The way we played against the 49ers, no, Cutler said. Were not going to be successful against anybody playing like that. But I dont think thats who they are. I think theyre better than that. Were going to have to do some things to help them out as well.

Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz and the rest of the return for Chris Sale

Michael Kopech, Luis Basabe, Victor Diaz and the rest of the return for Chris Sale

The White Sox return for Chris Sale has been generally praised in the aftermath of Tuesday’s megadeal with the Boston Red Sox, with the headliner being 21-year-old infielder Yoan Moncada

But the White Sox also acquired three other prospects with varying ranges of hype: 20-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech, 20-year-old outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and 22-year-old right-hander Victor Diaz. Baseball America ranked all three among the top 20 prospects in the Red Sox farm system, while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranked Kopech No. 5, Basabe No. 8 and Diaz No. 28 in Boston’s farm system. 

Kopech is a hard-throwing former No. 33 overall pick out of Mount Pleasant, Texas who was rated as a top 100 prospect in baseball by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus prior to the 2016 season. Over three minor league seasons from rookie ball to high Single-A, Kopech has 172 strikeouts, 69 walks and only three home runs allowed in 134 2/3 innings with a 2.61 ERA.

Whether or not Kopech sticks as a starting pitcher (35 of his 36 professional games have been starts) remains a point of contention among prospect evaluators, though he features a power slider and a low-90’s changeup that Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser wrote has drawn comparisons to New York Mets ace Noah Syndergaard. He also reportedly threw a 105 mph pitch last summer with Double-A Salem — and even if that radar gun reading was inaccurate, he’s able to fairly regularly throw his fastball at or above 100 mph. 

[Complete coverage of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale blockbuster trade]

There have been two off-the-field issues with Kopech, though, that are why he’s been dinged in some prospect rankings. In 2015, he was suspended for the final 50 games of the season after testing positive for amphetamine use, and in March of 2016 he fractured his hand following an altercation with a teammate

Basabe — not to be confused with his twin brother, infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe, who the Red Sox traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks last summer — is a toolsy outfielder who hit .264/.328/.452 with 25 stolen bases in 30 attempts between Single-A Greenville and high Single-A Salem last year. FutureSox’s Rob Young wrote that Basabe has “immense upside” as a potential five-tool player, while Baseball America’s best-case is Basabe’s raw talent develops into a "top of the order center fielder" 

Over four minor league seasons, Basabe has a .253/.353/.408 slash line with 21 home runs, 25 triples and 73 stolen bases in 93 attempts (78 percent). 

Diaz has had some control issues, issuing an average of 3.97 walks per nine innings, over his first two professional seasons. The hard-throwing right-hander posted a 3.88 ERA with 63 strikeouts out of Single-A Greenville’s bullpen last year, and with a fastball touching 100 mph, he could develop into a legitimate relief option down the road if he can find the strike zone more consistently. 

What’s worth noting here is the depth of the trade for the White Sox. This is a farm system that lacked both top-end and raw talent when Rick Hahn & Co. woke up on Tuesday, but adding Moncada, Kopech, Basabe and Diaz to a group headlined by recent draft picks like right-hander Carson Fulmer, catcher Zack Collins and right-hander Zack Burdi should have a significant impact on the quality of the White Sox minor league ranks. 

MLB releases postseason shares for Cubs

MLB releases postseason shares for Cubs

The Cubs' postseason shares were released Tuesday afternoon amid the craziness of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale deal.

Fresh off a World Series win, the Cubs handed out 66 full playoff shares, worth $368,871.59 each. The organization also dealt 8.7 partial shares and four cash awards.

As champs, the Cubs received a share of $27,586,017.75 of the players' pool, which is formed from 50 percent of the gate receipts from the American League and National League wild card games and then 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series, the first four contests of the League Championship Series and first four games of the World Series.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

The 2016 players' pool set a new record at $76,627,827.09, up from the 2015 total of just under $70 million.

2015 champion Kansas City Royals received share amounts of just over $370,000 last season, split into 58 shares.

The Cleveland Indians received more than $18 million from the 2016 players pool.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays — runners up in the LCS — tallied more than $9 million from the players' pool.