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Windy City Sports Report – 8/6/12

06 Aug

 

Hello sports lovers, Carlos here for another report on Chicago sports. The White Sox are battling for 1st place. Are they still there? The Cubs have some high-priced veterans who are attractive to playoff contenders. Did they make deals? And how are the Bears and Bulls faring with revamped rosters?

Let’s start out with the White Sox. They started out the week 1 ½ games ahead of the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central lead. The Sox faced the Minnesota Twins and won 2 out of 3 games. It is what could be expected playing a team in Minnesota that is really struggling. Former Twin Francisco Liriano, who was traded to the Sox and made his debut against his former team, looked pretty good in his game. Over 6 innings he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 4 and struck out 8.

After leaving Minnesota, the Sox came back home to face Los Angeles Angels, lead by the red-hot Albert Pujols. They cooled them off, though, taking 2 out of 3 games. In the opener, the Sox came from behind to win in walk-off fashion on Alex Rios’ 2nd home run of the game.

In the 2nd game, Kevin Youkilis hit 2 homers but it was not enough as the Angels answered the previous night’s 10th inning loss with a 10th inning win of their own, 6-5.

In the rubber game, Liriano went to the mound again. He was locked in a pitchers’ duel with Dan Haren, but he got hit by a batted ball in the 5th and had to leave the game with a contusion to his quad. AJ Pierzynski hit a homer for the 5th consecutive game (21 overall) to give the Sox a 4-2 win. AJ has been on fire all season with his homers and his hitting overall. This has been his finest offensive season in his 15-season career.

Even though the Sox had another great week, the Tigers were able to keep up. The Sox lead in the AL Central remains at 1 ½ games. This week the Sox have 3 games against the Kansas City Royals and 3 games against the Oakland Athletics, all at home. Let’s see if they can try to extend that lead and get some breathing space between them and Detroit before they face each other at the end of the month.

The Cubs were busy last week. At the trading deadline, they made several moves. They traded away C Geovany Soto, P Paul Maholm, OF Reed Johnson, and P Ryan Dempster to various contending teams. They received a slew of prospects in return.


These moves were not made to improve today. These moves were made for the future. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking for financial flexibility to go for free agents in the upcoming years. They are also improving the minor league system to perhaps use them as chips for bigger talent around the league. I like the moves. Epstein and Hoyer are rebuilding the team to be contenders for years, not just every 5 years or so.

The Cubs may still not be done dealing. There is still OF Alfonso Soriano and P Matt Garza. They would have to clear waivers in order to be traded, however.

With the loss of those key players, you need a roster card with players’ numbers so you could know the names of the players. As a result, the Cubs have lost their last 5 games to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers. They had a good run after a poor start, but now it is time for them to take their lumps and see how the kids do.

Two of those kids who figure to be in the Cubs’ plans are 3B Josh Vitters and OF Brett Jackson. In fact, they did not spend much time getting to know their new surroundings before being put in the lineup. Jackson started, going 2-4 with a walk, while Vitters went hitless with only 1 at-bat.  The future is now for those players.

This week the Cubs face the San Diego Padres in a 3-game series, and then come home for a 4-game series against the NL Central Division-leading Cincinnati Reds. The kids will be thrown to the fire early!

The early report from the Chicago Bears’ training camp is that the receivers, especially Brandon Marshall, are looking good. Marshall has been taking charge and making some great catches from his buddy Jay Cutler. Rookie Alshon Jeffery has also opened some eyes.

Cutler has had some great words for the rookie. “In the coming years I can see him being just a dominant force out there,” said Cutler. He added that this season the Bears might not need him to be as productive as AJ Green was with Cincinnati last season. Green had over 1,000 yards receiving for the Bengals. With Marshall and Earl Bennett showing veteran leadership, Jeffery could be eased in. Giving Cutler another big, fast target can have Jeffery on the field more than some may think.

On the offensive line, it looks as if J’Marcus Webb will win the starting LT job. He has been locked in a battle with Chris Williams. In the Bears’ first depth chart of the season released just today, Webb is listed as the starter. There are reports of at least one team inquiring on Williams, but his ability to play every position on the line except center makes him a valuable backup if he indeed does not win a starting job.

With his new receivers, Cutler is feeling good about this offense. “This is the most comfortable I think I’ve been going into a camp with the offense and what we are doing scheme-wise and the talent around me,” Cutler said. “You can say this is the most comfortable I’ve been.”

We will see if Cutler will still be comfortable once the season begins. Their preseason starts this Thursday against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

The Bulls obliterated their famed “Benchmob” and now their team looks drastically different from the one that had the best regular season record 2 years in a row. They signed PG Nate Robinson to back up Rose once he returns from his ACL surgery. They could be done making signings, but there are reports they may be interested in Tracy McGrady. This is the 3rd year in a row they have looked at McGrady. I say either sign him already or just forget about him.

There about 2 months left before training camp opens for the Bulls. This season will test Tom Thibodeau’s coaching abilities. Could he get the same results with this crop of Bulls that he did with the last group? It will be tough, especially without Derrick Rose for much of the season, but that is why they play the games. We will see.

Until next week, sports fans. Have a couple of Vienna Beef dogs!

 

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