Friday, August 3, 2012

Taking an August Breath During Chicago's Sports Season

The Chicago baseball teams had a day off yesterday, so all sports addicts had a chance to reflect on the baseball season and what's going on with the other off-season team.

Let's take a look!

White Sox righthander Jake Peavy
Chicago White Sox:  The first place Sox have been lucky and good.  And you need that during a pennant race--look what happened in 2005!  Kevin Youkilis was a real steal from the Red Sox (Is Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine really that bad?), and Brett Myers has pitched well so far in a set-up role.  I just love starting pitcher Jake Peavy, who was maligned by the Chicago media establishment as a "waste of money" all last season when he was coming off surgery.  Just goes to show you what those idiots in the sports media know.  Peavy will top 200 innings pitched, and he'll make it hard for the Sox to let him go next year.  Here's hoping that the Sox re-sign Jake, and look to get a 2nd baseman.  Robin Ventura FINALLY benched Gordon Beckham on Wednesday against the Twins.  The problem is that back-up Orlando Hudson's batting average is worse than Beckham's.  The Sox also need a back-up catcher who can hit over a buck eighty.  Some think starting catcher A.J. Pierzynski is the best catcher in modern Sox history, and I'm not arguing with that premise--at all! (Sorry, Pudge!)

Cubs pitcher Casey Coleman.
Chicago Cubs:  Get ready for 100 losses, Cubs fans.  Any chance of a .500 season went out the door when the Cubs dumped Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster, Geo Soto, and Reed Johnson at the trade deadline on Tuesday.  Man, that was a house cleaning!  What's left?  Well, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, that's what!  I don't think Darwin Barney will make the down-the-line cut, and Steve Clevenger will NEVER be an everyday catcher.  Who else is there?  Vitters?  Jackson?  More minor leaguers?  Cubs GM Theo Epstein wanted to trade Matt Garza and Alphonso Soriano last Tuesday but couldn't.  Garza has a bad elbow, and Soriano supposedly  nixed a trade to the Giants.  I went to a game last year that Casey Coleman started, and I swore, never again.  Let's see if the lemmings that are Cub fans continue to fill that ballpark.  I know I won't be there.

Chicago Bears:  The Bears hype machine is in full throttle.  In fact it's worse than ever.  Even some of the national mopes point to the Bears as a playoff team and a threat to unseat Green Bay as Central Division champs.

Don't believe it!

Bears right tackle Gabe Carimi.  Will he make the whole season?
Here's why the Bears won't win and won't make the playoffs.  First, the offensive line can't protect quarterback Jay Cutler.  First round draft choice Chris Williams is a a bust, and the rest of the line (except for center Roberto Garza) is a piecemeal bunch.  Right tackle Gabe Carimi's knee is a big question mark, and there is absolutely no depth behind the starters.  How can a team that was so lousy up front last year not draft an offensive lineman?  Easy, every offensive lineman they draft is a bust.  We'll know about Carimi soon.  The Bears sure botched his surgery--wait, his two surgeries!

Second, Cutler will get hurt because the offensive line is so bad.  Back-up QB Jason Campbell will be better than Caleb Haney, but anyone's better than that guy (It makes you wonder how these coaches evaluate talent, doesn't it?).  The Bears will become more of a running team under Campbell, which will result in running back Matt Forte going down.  Michael Bush will be better than Marion Barber, but anyone is better than Barber (No, Jim, don't think of the Denver game again!  You'll have nightmares!)

Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett.  How's the lacerated liver?
Third, the receivers are definitely better in 2012, but the number two guy is still a rookie, Alshon Jeffery.  And look at the questions about Jeffery's conditioning and his heart.  I love Earl Bennett, but the Bears just admitted this week that Bennett sustained a lacerated liver in that New Orleans game last year.  Can Bennett be a no. 2 or 3 receiver?  And I'm so sick of the talk about Devin Hester being the new Johnny Morris.  Hester will be 30 this fall.  Watch for a fall off in his production.  I know, I know, Brandon Marshall, Brandon Marshall!  All I have to say is look at his track record.  Miami gave him away.  That's telling!

Defensive end or linebacker?  Bears No. 1 draft choice Shea McClellin
Fourth, the defense has no depth--none, nada.  When Green Bay won its last Super Bowl, the Packers were decimated by injuries, but they  overcame those injuries with depth.  There is no depth on the Bears.  No. 1 draft choice Shea McClellin is undersized for a defensive end, and Bears Coach Lovie Smith is determined to play McClellin at end, not linebacker where he seems to fit better.  Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is age 34, outside linebacker Lance Briggs will be 32 in November, and cornerback Charles Tillman is 32.  Heck, Julius Peppers will turn 33 in January.  These ages are not a bad sign alone, but when you look at the players behind these starters, there's no one home.  Safety Major Wright has been a major disappointment.  Safety Chris Conte is bordering on being a bust and hurt all the time, and defensive tackle Stephen Paea must become a factor this season.  I'm scared that this defense, if left on the field too long, won't be able to stop anybody. 

Bears assistant coach Jeremy Bates
Fifth, coaching.  The Bears players love Lovie Smith, but he continues to be the worst game coach in the NFL, and his talent evaluation is horrible.  Remember Earl Bennett being inactive for a whole year when he was healthy?  Jeremy Bates is a breath of fresh air on the coaching staff, but he's kind of a free spirit who doesn't fit into Smith's rigid tell nothing to the media mantra.  Lovie better produce because this team can't miss the playoffs again.

Unfortunately, I think the Bears will just sneak into the playoffs at 9-7 or will duplicate last year and finish 8-8. 

Hopefully, the White Sox will be entertaining us in October!

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