Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Baseball Season - Busts and Breakouts

This is hoping to spark a conversation about who is due for a slump season or injury, and who will finally break into stardom. I have a few ideas.

Breakouts - Adam Jones, Yunel Escobar, Matt Kemp, Uptons, Kotchman, Willits.

Busts - Wang, Renteria, Todd Jones, Borowski, Tigers (I just think they will have some injuries, likely Ordonez, and not blow everyone away as many are writing off.

Those are just a few I could think of.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Cubs - Upcoming Baseball Season

A few comments to the upcoming season. The 100 year celebration. Not many teams have the luxury of making that statement.

Why would the Cubs want to win the World Series this year? Isn't the whole aura about the team the history of never winning? Would their value go down in the market if they suddenly won and the lovable losers title was gone? How about the Cubs win the World Series AND the park is renamed Boeing Field. This took me a few minutes to write as I continued to vomit but some scary thoughts, nonetheless. As a Cubs fan, I have given up the hope of year to year and now only wish to see a Series title before I die. Not much to ask but how many have failed that same request?

Now for some positive reflection on this team. I think FUDummy is going to be a great addition. Stone recently said this guy will hit 85% of the pitches he swings at. If he brings that from the left side and the great arm shown so far, he will be just what the team needs. I think Rich Hill is prime for a great year. As much as I respect Buehrle, I feel he will have the best season for a lefty starter in Chicago this season. Soto has a good shot at ROY given the performance he carried into the bigs last year and the postseason.

Soriano, Lee, and Ramirez continue to make me nervous. I thought we were past Wood and Prior. Now we have three to worry about. CF and closer also are big reasons for concern. If we add Roberts, the offense is less of a concern and Pie developing is perfectly fine, especially with his defensive capabilities. As for closer, Wood, Howry, and Marmol are all very good setup men. None have proven to be solid closers. That is a way to ruin confidence and a career. Has everyone forgotten Latroy (BOO!) Hawkins. Closers can be fragile (Ask Billy Koch or Brad Lidge), and I do not want to see that happen to Marmol after enjoying his development so much last year. My call would be Wood because he has been through a lot already and bounced back.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Blackhawks

Is anyone else excited about the resurgence of the Hawks? We finally have a serviceable team that can be viewed from the luxury of your own home. TV was slow the other night and I was quite pleased watching Crawford get his first career victory. A shutout against the hottest team in the NHL, nonetheless.

There is a feel in the city that the Hawks have swung the shift of popularity from the Bulls. Of course, as a Bulls season ticket holder, this leaves me with a bitter taste. However, I used to be a huge Hawks fan as a kid and am glad to have them back. There has not been a product worth enjoying for quite some time. Savard has turned this team around. Now there is talk of Chicago in the running for an outdoor game next year. I hope that happens. It was one of my favorite sports events earlier this year. I can only imagine the success it would have for the franchise in a major market.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bears Sign Booker -NFL Free Agency

Today, the Bears brought Marty Booker back. While this is clearly not a major splash move,(It has not even made the list on ESPN Free Agency moves at the end of the day) it is a solid upgrade for the team. Booker is a player very similar to Moose. The difference is that he comes at a fraction of the cost AND he has good hands. Moose catches roughly 51% of the passes targeted his way. Booker ups that to 61%. That is a nice difference, and I am sure the QB that gets the nod will be pleased. The Bears had way too many drops last year. This gives them the same knowledgeable presence of a veteran to help Bradley, Hester, and a likely rookie. However, I think Booker has better separation and again the hands. I am pleased with the move and hope Olivea is next.

With Favre retired, a few more moves in free agency for the Bears might allow the city to get excited about next season.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bears Off-Season

It has been awhile but I feel like posting some recent thoughts. It is no secret that successful teams treat their lines as the core of the team and build out from there. These foundations must be strong for all other aspects to fully function. No quarterback can standout without a good line. However, a good line can make a decent quarterback better.

The Bears have regarded this theory in the past, but it was ignored last season. They thought they could get by with dinosaurs too slow to block anything coming in. I am glad to see them cut Brown and Miller and move on. Anything will be better. Re-signing Clark was actually a solid move because Olsen is not a blocking tight end. Clark leaving would have left this team with an aging Kreutz and not much else. Sidenote: does anyone know anything about this probable future Hall of Famer? I now do only because I asked myself that question last season when there was little to enjoy.

So we have Kreutz and Clark. Tait is likely to mirror Miller and Brown of last year. Garza stinks. He could be serviceable if surrounded with more talent, leaving him left exposed. I think Beekman might be decent. I haven't seen enough to know. He could be the next Columbo for the Bears. Metcalf may get it but not likely. This is a pretty bleak picture but no surprise to anyone.

Kwame Harris was one of my solutions, but I notice he signed (fairly reasonable for a former 1st rounder-3 yrs $14M) today with the Raiders. Shane Olivea would be a good fit. He has been a very solid right tackle the last few years for the Chargers. He fell out of favor last year and ended up getting benched before being released. He is only 26 and would certainly be a huge upgrade over Miller last year. Ryan Lilja would have been a really good option. Of course, the Colts realized that and re-signed him. Some other options are former Super Bowl starter, Tom Ashworth, or former Steelers starter, Chris Kemoeatu. Neither excite me all the much but would fill in as decent subs.

Olivea and another one of these options would give Rex or Orton a bit more time than last year and open up a few holes for a back. This would allow the Bears to go into the draft with a small amount of flexibility to take a lineman, back, or receiver. I think Mendenhall would actually be the best pick at their slot, unless they can trade down for the Cowboys two picks. If they don't take him, I hope they sign Julius Jones to a one or two year deal. He could rehash his career much like his brother did. That would be some ultimate turnaround if he sent Benson packing next year.