Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Chicago Post

By request, here's an update from around the city of Chicago:

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Derrick Rose, hampered by turf toe, was unavailable for last night's game against the 1-win Wizards, but it didn't matter as Chicago cruised to a 78-64 win. Chicago's defense held Washington to just 31% shooting and the Bulls won the battle on the boards 62-46 led by 15 rebounds from Luol Deng and 14 more from Omer Asik off the bench. John Lucas III started in place of the injured Rose and did his best Rose impression going for a career high 25 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Rose is currently day-to-day, but the Bulls were concerned enough that they signed 36 year old Mike James from the D League to give them added depth at the point guard position (backup C.J. Watson is injured as well). James hasn't played in the NBA since the 2009-10 season, but averaged over 10 points a game in his 9 year career. James has played for the Heat, Celtics, Pistons, Rockets, Bucks, Raptors, Bulls, Hornets and Wizards. He averaged a career best 20.3 points a game for the Raptors during the '05-'06 season.

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Anthony Rizzo is on the move again. It appears wherever GM Jed Hoyer goes, Rizzo is soon to follow. Hoyer was in Boston when the Red Sox drafted him in 2007, then Hoyer traded for Rizzo as GM of the San Diego Padres last year, and now he's trading for him again as GM of the Cubs. Hoyer sent Andrew Cashner and minor league outfielder Kyung-Min Na to the Padres in exchange for the coveted Rizzo and right-handed pitcher Zach Cates. Let's take a closer look at the pieces in this deal:

First, Rizzo. The 22 year old left handed hitting first baseman had an up and down 2011 season for San Diego. He started the year in AAA and absolutely mashed. Rizzo hit .331 with 26 homers and 101 runs batted in in just 93 games. However, he struggled after being called up to the majors. And I mean, REALLY struggled. Rizzo got just 18 hits in 128 at bats in 49 games and struck out 46 times while homering only once. Still, the guy's a big time prospect, and Hoyer would know that better than anyone.

Na is only 20, but is a plus defender in centerfield. He hit .268 in 83 games in the minors last year and stole 20 bases, but he doesn't hit for any power (just 11 extra base hits, 0 homers).

Cashner, 25, has a great arm and was the Cubs 5th starter to open the 2011 season. However, he injured his shoulder in that start and was limited to just 6 relief appearances the rest of the year. Cashner allowed just 3 hits in 10 2/3 innings last season, but it remains to be seen if the Padres see him as a starter or as a reliever.

Finally Cates, 22. Cates started 25 games in A ball last year and was 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA. He's got a fastball in the mid-90s, struck out 111 hitters and 118 innings while surrendering just 107 hits. He has more of an upside than Na does, but he's far from a can't miss prospect.

Really, this trade comes down to Rizzo for Cashner, and given Rizzo's tremendous upside and ability to be an every day player for the Cubs versus Cashner more than likely being a bullpen piece in San Diego, you have to give Chicago the edge in this deal.

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With the Mike Martz era now over in Chicago, the Bears have moved on to Mike Tice, the Bears offensive line coach the past two seasons. Tice, who has extensive coaching experience has never been an Offensive Coordinator before, however he had a 3+ year stint as head coach of the Vikings in addition to being an assistant head coach of the Jaguars and a tight ends coach.

Tice, a college quarterback who played tight end during his NFL career, will certainly be a change of pace from Martz, but it's hard to say what to expect from the Bears offense in 2012. One thing's for sure, if Tice is to be successful, the Bears will need to bring back Matt Forte and have a healthy Jay Cutler if they hope to contend in a division that has the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers and the upstart Lions who will only get better.

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