Monthly Archives: May 2012

Which NBA Team Would Fit Best With Anthony Davis?

All 32 NBA Teams would love to have the Number 1 overall pick (most likely select Anthony Davis) in next months NBA Draft. However, with this article I’ve decided to look at a few teams that would benefit the most from Anthony Davis being added to their roster:

4. Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats had two of the top 10 picks in last years NBA Draft as they decided to take  Power Forward Bismack Biyombo (7th overall pick) and Kemba Walker (9th overall pick). Kemba  had a mixed rookie season as there were times that he looked like he was going to be a solid point guard (averaged 12.1 points and 4.4 assists per game) and other times that he looked confused on the court (averaged 2 turnovers while only averaging 27.2 minutes per-game). Biyombo on the other hand had a slow start to his career (didn’t play 25+ minutes in a game until February 4th) but as his minutes started to increase, so did his stats (averaged at-least 1.9 blocks per game the last 3 months of the season). I feel Anthony Davis would be a good addition to any NBA team, however, I’m not sure how he would fit in with this Bobcats roster. Charlotte would feature the smallest front court (Biyombo 6’9″ and 6’10”) in the NBA but I’m sure the Bobcats would find a way to make it work. The Bobcats need a for someone to become the face of their franchise and Davis would instantly become the face of the Bobcats.

3. Washington Wizards: The Wizards are one of the two teams on this list that has a former number 1 overall pick as the teams point guard (John Wall, 2010 NBA Draft). Washington already features 2 All-Star caliber players on their roster (Wall and Nene) and if they were able to get Anthony Davis, they would feature an even better core. In addition to Nene and Wall, the Wizards  have 2011 1st Round Pick (Jan Vesely), to go along with Kevin Seraphin, and Chris Singleton on their roster. With these players, the Wizards would be known as one of the best “up and coming teams” as they’d feature two of the best young players in the NBA to go along with a lot of other young players on their roster.

2. New Orleans Hornets: After the Chris Paul trade, New Orleans realized that they were a  team that had to start over and enter the rebuilding stage. With the pieces they acquired from the Clippers (Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and Minnesota’s 1st Round Pick), in addition to having an early 1st round pick and a lot of cap space this offseason, the Hornets are starting to look like a team that features a nice foundation. If New Orleans was able to win the NBA Lottery and acquire the number 1 overall pick, then they would feature a solid core of  players (Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Davis, and Emeka Okafor) while still having an additional first round pick and veterans Trevor Ariza and Jarrett Jack on their roster. The Hornets have a lot of different directions they can go in the next few years

1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Of all the teams in the NBA Draft Lottery, I feel the Cleveland Cavaliers would be the best fit for Anthony Davis. Within a 2 year span, the Cavs went from a Title Contender, to the worst team in the NBA, and then a team on the rise with 2011-2012 Rookie of the Year Winner, Kyrie Irving (who averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 assists per-game). From the start of the season, Irving showed that he was going to become a dominant player and leader for a Cavs team that wasn’t sure what direction they were going in. Along with Irving, the Cavs also feature Power Forward/Center (and fellow rookie) Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao, along with an additional first round pick from the Lakers. If the Cavs win the NBA Draft Lottery tonight and are awarded the Number 1 Overall Pick, then I feel they might look to trade fan favorite Anderson Varejao for more depth in their backcourt or try to acquire additional picks (as many teams would like to have a player like Varejao on their roster). If the Cavs were able to acquire the Number 1 pick in this years NBA Draft, then the Cavs would be closing in on a Playoff Spot.

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Players to watch this summer

The MLB Season is almost 1/3 of the way complete and there have been a few surprising teams so far (Indians, Orioles, Nationals). As good as those stories have been, I feel there’s a few current minor league players that should be in the majors within the next few weeks. Below is a list of players that should be on your watch list for Fantasy Baseball as these players have the capability of having a similar impact that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have had on their teams.

Trevor Bauer (Arizona Diamondbacks): Bauer was the 3rd overall pick for the Diamondbacks in the 2011 MLB Draft and it seems that he’s almost ready for the Major’s. His 2011 season got off to a slow start (had a 5.96 combined ERA at A and AA), but in 2012 has bounced back (has a combined 1.60 ERA between AA and AAA) and looks as if he’s almost ready for the majors. With the Diamondbacks already featuring a great deal of depth in their rotation, it seems like Bauer could be a key arm in their bullpen as they make a run at the playoffs.
Predicted call up: Early September
Jacob Turner (Detroit Tigers): Turner had a brief stint with the Tigers last year (started 3 games), and showed that he just wasn’t quite ready for the major at that time. Detroit currently feature’s the best pitcher in baseball (Justin Verlander) to go along with a few pitchers that have the capability of either being great or frustrating to watch. As for Turner, he’s currently ranked as the 12 best prospect in baseball, (according to and has the capability of being a very good number 2 pitcher for a team in the future. With that said, I feel Turner might make the majors this year, just on a different team as I feel the Tigers need a present day number 2 pitcher if they want to make a run at the World Series. Turner currently features a 2.73 ERA between both AA and AAA and has the stuff to become a legitimate Ace in the future.
Predicted call up: Early August
Danny Hultzen (Seattle Mariners): Hultzen was the second overall pick by the Mariners in the 2011 MLB Draft and has the capability of being a top of the rotation starter in the near future. Hultzen didn’t pitch in the minors all of last year but has so far dominated at AA (4-3 with a 1.81 ERA) and seems as if he’ll be the future number 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. If Seattle decides to bring Hultzen up, I don’t think you’ll see him in a Mariners jersey until the end of the 2012 season.
Predicted call up: September

Tyler Skaggs (Arizona Diamondbacks): The Diamondbacks have a number of very good young arms (Bauer, Skaggs, and Archie Bradley) to go along with a number of young quality arms already on their roster (Cahill, Kennedy, and Hudson). Since entering professional baseball, Skaggs hasn’t had an ERA above 3.29 and it looks like he’ll be a very good left-handed pitcher in the near future. Unfortunately for Skaggs, because the Diamondbacks feature such good depth in their rotation, I don’t believe he’ll make their roster unless they put him in their bullpen. So why did I put him on this list? Because I believe there’s a good chance Arizona will look to acquire a hitter at the deadline (they need offense) and will look to trade one of their good young arms (maybe Skaggs) to acquire this.

Predicted call up: August
Zack Wheeler (New York Mets): At the trade deadline last year, the New York Mets decided to trade Center Fielder Carlos Beltran to the Giants for their number 1 prospect, Zack Wheeler. Now in his 4th season playing professional baseball (after being the 6th overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft), it finally looks as if Wheeler’s close to reaching the Majors and becoming a quality starter for the Mets in the future. New York has so far had some success from their rotation so far at the early part’s of this season; however, it seems like the Mets need an additional starting pitching help if they want to stay in the race in the NL East. If the Mets fall out of the race, I believe they’ll look to trade one of their current starters and give Wheeler a chance by the end of the season.
Predicted call up: August

Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs): The Cubs have had a number of problems with their offense this year (have scored the third fewest runs in the National League) and need a major addition to their offense. With their struggles, this could be Anthony Rizzo’s chance to make the Cubs roster as he’s been tearing-up AAA pitching (.352 Average, 15 Home Runs, and 42 RBI).  If the Cubs decide to call-up Rizzo, then they’ll have to make sure  they find a space for Brian LaHair on their roster. With LaHair, Rizzo, Castro, and Dejesus in their lineup, I feel the Cubs will have the capability of featuring a much improved offense along with being a vastly improved second half team.

Predicted call up: July
Mike Montgomery: The Royals have a lot of great young talent on their roster, however, the majority of their young pitching prospects are still in the minor leagues (Mike Montgomery and Jake Odorizzi). With that said, I feel left-handed starter Mike Montgomery has great stuff and the capability of eventually becoming one of the best left-handed pitchers in the majors. Once Mike Montgomery shows that he can succeed at AAA, then we’ll start to see him pitching in the majors at Kauffman Stadium.
Predicted call up: Late July/Early August

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All-Chicago Baseball Roster 2012

Part one of the Cubs-White Sox series is about to get underway, and after examining each player’s statistics, I put together a list of who I feel should be apart of the 2012 All-Chicago Baseball Roster. Below is a list of players that I feel should be apart of the All-Chicago Baseball Roster.

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski: A.J. got off to a fast start this season, hitting .309 and 4 Home Runs in April from the Catcher position. In addition to putting together a good offensive season, he’s once again done a good job handling the White Sox pitching staff as he’s put together an All-Star caliber season.

First Baseman: Brian LaHair: This was the toughest position to choose from as both Brian LaHair and Paul Konerko (I consider Dunn a DH) have put together fantastic starts to their seasons. Konerko (.344 Average, 7 Home Runs, and 20 RBI) has been the most consistent hitter all season long for the White Sox and most other seasons would be listed as the All-Chicago 1st Baseman, but not this season. The Cubs best hitter this year has been Brian LaHair (.352 Average, 10 Home Run, 21 RBI) as he’s carried the Cubs throughout the first month of the half of the season. LaHair’s hit a few enormous Home Run’s for this Cubs and has been the team’s most consistent player all season long.

Second Baseman: Darwin Barney: Both of Chicago’s second basemen had difficult starts to their season’s, and looked lost at the plate. However, one has started to look more comfortable as the season’s progressed on (Darwin Barney) and looks like he’s ready to become the player the that the Cubs thought they had. Since his difficult start to his season, Barney’s hit .262 on the season while playing good defense (only 1 error) and looks much more comfortable at the plate. As the season goes on, I feel his batting average will only progress upward.

Shortstop: Starlin Castro: Like Bran LaHair, Starlin Castro has had a great start to his season and once again looks like he’ll be apart of MLB’s All-Star weekend once July rolls around. Just like last year, Castro has put together another strong season (.331 Average and 22 RBI) while still only being 22 years old. As the season goes on (and the weather warms up), I believe his power numbers will start to go up (he currently has one Home Run on the season) and will finish with at-least 15 Home Runs.

Third base: Ian Stewart: Both of Chicago’s 3rd Basemen (Ian Stewart and Brent Moral) have gotten off to slow starts in 2012, as the two players are below the .210 marker (Stewart at .205 and Morel at .178) but have played excellent defense. The one positive offensive aspect between the two has come from Stewart as his power numbers have started to show up (already has 4 home runs), and I feel he has the capability of hitting at-least 20 Homer Run’s on the season.

Outfield: Alejandro De Aza, David DeJesus, and Alex Rios: De Aza, Rios, and DeJesus have all put together good starts to their season and the three players have made this list in different ways. For De Aza, he was a player that had one major league opportunity (played in 45 games for the 2007 Marlins) and outside of that has never received a true opportunity to be a Starting Outfielder for an MLB team. In the middle of the 2011 season, the White Sox decided to give De Aza a chance to start and rewarded them by  posting a .329 Average in 54 games. As for the 2012 season, De Aza has been a productive hitter once again as he currently has a .289 average, along with 7 stolen bases. As for DeJesus, he decided to signed with the Cubs during the offseason and got off to a difficult start to the season (hitting .250). However, since his difficult start to th 2012 season, he’s been a much better offensive player (hitting .308 in May) and has been the Cubs best Outfielder throughout the 2012 season. Like the other two players, Rios went through a lot to be apart of the Chicago’s 2012 Baseball Roster. Rios had a difficult 2011 season (.227 Average, 13 Home Runs, ad 44 RBI) but has since bounced back and put together a solid start to the 2012 season (.275 Average).


Adam Dunn: During the offseason, Adam Dunn predicted that he would win the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award and it looks like he might deliver in the end. Since the start of the 2012 regular season, Dunn has been a completely different player this year already hitting more Home Runs this year (12) than he did all of last year (11) in addition to his average being up from last year (.159 in 2011 to 248 in 2012). If Dunn keeps this pace up, he should the return to his previous statistics (40-100) before the end of the baseball season.

Paul Konerko: Just because Paul Konerko wasn’t elected to be the Chicago’s 1st Baseman doesn’t mean that you should leave him off the entire roster. Konerko has once again put together another strong season (.344 Average, 7 Home Runs, and 20 RBI), as it seems like he only getting better with age. If both Dunn and Konerko can keep their seasons up, then the White Sox will feature one of the best 3-4 left/right combinations in all of baseball.

Tony Campana: Ever since the Cubs decided to trade Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox a few weeks ago, the team has received a great lift from outfielder Tony Campana. Campana is hitting .333 on the season to go along with 9 stolen bases and has brought a new dimension to this Cubs offense.

Starting Pitchers:

Ryan Dempster: Last year, Ryan Dempster had one of his worst months of his career as he posted a 9.58 ERA throughout the month of April. As for 2012, its been a completely different story as he posted a 1.33 ERA throughout the month of April and currently has a 1.74 ERA (2nd best in baseball) even though he hasn’t recorded a win on the season (not his fault). If the All-Star Game was today, Dempster would be at the top of the list to start the Mid-Summer classic.

Jake Peavy: Since being acquired by the White Sox in 2009, Jake Peavy has had a few positive moments, but unfortunately the majority have been negative, while playing in Chicago. Before the start of the 2012 season, (1.5 years since he had surgery to repair his torn right latissimus dorsi tendon) the White Sox were unsure of what to expect from the former NL CY-Young Award winner. Fortunately for Peavy and the White Sox, he got off to his best start since he was a San Diego Padre and he hasn’t looked back (4-1 record, a 2.65 ERA and 48 strikeouts on the season). 

Matt Garza: Ever since the Cubs acquired Matt Garza from the Rays during the 2010 offseason, he’s been nothing short of great and has become one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Garza’s once again off to another great start (2-1 to go along with a 2.56 ERA) and has a chance to make his first ever All-Star Game.

Gavin Floyd: In years past, Gavin Floyd was a pitcher that would have difficult starts to his season’s (between 2009 and 2011 season’s he had ERA’s of 5.06 in April and 5.33 in May), but was able to bounce back and have successful June’s (2.86 ERA) and July’s (2.67 ERA). As for this season, Floyd’s off to his best start since he was acquired by the White Sox 5 years ago (3-4 with a 3.44 ERA) and June and July haven’t arrived yet.

Jeff Samardzija: The Cubs weren’t sure of what to expect from Jeff Samardzija this year, but so far he’s been a fantastic surprise. Between the 2008 and 2011 season’s he was taken back-and-forth between starting and relieving for the Cubs. During this time-frame, Samardzija recorded a few highs as on two different occasions recorded ERA’s under 3 (2008 had a 2.28 ERA and 2011 had a 2.97 ERA), but also had a few downs seasons. During the Cubs 2012 Spring Training, they decided to make Samardzija a full-time Starting Pitching and he’s rewarded them by going 4-1 to go along with a 2.89 ERA.

Relief Pitchers:

James Russell: The Cubs have had their shares of up’s and down’s from the bullpen this year, but one of the brightest spots has come from lefty James Russell as in 16 appearance’s he’s recorded a 1.17 ERA. With Russell still young (26 years old), it seems like the Cubs might have just found their future lefty specialist.

Rafael Dolis: The other reliever that’s been  consistent for the Cubs all season has been Rafael Dolis as he’s recorded a 3.52 ERA on the season and when the Cubs needed to fill the closer spot he was there to fill the position. Since taking over a few weeks ago, Dolis has recorded 4 saves and it looks like the Cubs might have found another quality reliever.

Nate Jones: The White Sox have a lot of veterans relievers (Crain and Thornton) to go along with a few young relievers who were expected to come in and have a significant effect on their bullpen (Stewart, Reed, and Santiago. The one player they weren’t counting on was Nate Jones whose been the team’s best reliever (recording a 1.59 ERA) all season long. Jones has been a very pleasant surprise out of the White Sox bullpen and has the capability of becoming a reliable reliever in the future.

Addison Reed: When you look at his ERA, it seems like Addison Reed’s had a pretty bad season (4.76 ERA), but if you look closer, he’s actually been the Sox best pitcher all season long. He hasn’t allowed a run in 14 of his 15 appearances and it seems like he’ll be the Sox future closer.

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All Time Chicago Bulls Roster

The 2011-2012 Bulls season has unfortunately com to an end, and as a way to put a cap on the 46 season of Chicago Bulls Basketball, I decided to look at the Bulls All-Time 12 man roster, and see who I felt should be apart of this roster.

Point Guard: Derrick Rose: There’ve been a lot of talented Bulls point guards through the years (Norm Van Lier, John Paxson, and Ron Harper to name a few) but none of those players compare to what Derrick Rose has done in his first four NBA Seasons. Norm Van Lier was one of the best defensive point guards of All-Time (3 time 1st Team and 5 Times All Second Team NBA Defense) while still being a solid offensive point guard, John Paxson was apart of three championship teams (1991-1993) and hitting one of the biggest shots in Bulls history, and Ron Harper was one of the most underrated defenders of his ERA as on three different occasions he ranked in the top 10 in Steels in a season. As good as those players were for the Bulls, I decided to choose Rose because he’s the youngest player in NBA history to win an MVP Award (22), has already made 3 All-Star Teams, was the 2008-2009 Rookie of the Year Award Winner, and tied with Kareem Abdul Jabbar with scoring the most points in their first ever playoff game (36) in the TD Garden. The other four players were great for the Bulls, but in my mind (even though he’s only played in four NBA Seasons), Derrick Rose is still the best point guard in Bulls history.

Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan: No offense to the other former Bulls shooting guards, but when your the greatest player of all time, then that person earns a spot on this list. Jordan has won a number of awards throughout his incredible NBA Career which include: Rookie of the Year (1985), Defensive Player of the Year (1988), 5 NBA MVP’s (1988, 1991-1992, 1996, and 1998), to go along with 6 NBA Championships (1991-1993 and 1996-1998) as he won MVP of the NBA Finals each time.

Small Forward: Scottie Pippen: The other member of the greatest duo in the history of the NBA (Scottie Pippen), was one of the best defenders of all time, voted  one of the Top 50 players of All-Time, along with eventually being elected into the NBA Hall-of-Fame. In addition to those awards, during the time when Michael Jordan decided to play baseball, it was Pippen that stepped up and almost helped the Bulls Reach the Eastern Conference Finals (1994). In addition to all of these accomplishments, Scottie was the 1994 All-Star Game MVP and named to the 1st team All-NBA Defensive squad 8 times in his career.

Power Forward: Horace Grant: This was a tough decision as there could have been a number of people named at this spot, but in my mind its Horace Grant that should be named the best power forward in Bulls history. While playing for the Bulls organization, Grant was a dominant rebounder and good outside shooter while helping the Bulls win the franchises first three NBA Titles. Grant played for the Bulls for 7 season and ranked in the top 10 in offensive rebounds on three different occasions (1992, 1993, and 1994), along with averaging at-least 12 point per game (except for his rookie season) and once with the Bulls ranked in the top 10 in field goal percentage. Grant only made one All-Star Appearance while playing in Chicago (1994), but was a vital member to the Bulls winning 3 NBA Championships.

Center: Artis Gilmore: Nicknamed “The A-Train,” Hall-of-Famer Artis Gilmore was one of the most productive Bulls of All-Time as he never averaged less than 17.8 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game while playing for the Bulls. In addition to those stats, on two different occasions with Bulls he finished with the best field goal percentage in the NBA (1981,1982) while also being named a  three times top 5 rebounder (1977, 1978, and 1979). In my mind, Artis Gilmore was the best center in Bulls history and is one of the most underrated Players in the history of the NBA.


Jerry Sloan: One of the best defensive players of All-Time, Sloan (a 4-time 1st team all defensive player and 2-time 2nd team all defender) along with backcourt teammate Norn Van Lier made up one of the toughest backcourts in the history of the NBA. Sloan’s number 4 was the first of four players to have their jersey retired by the Bulls and he was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 2009.

Norm Van Lier: As stated above, Van Lier along with Sloan created one of the best and toughest backcourts in the history. While playing with the Bulls (from 1972-1978) Van Lier was elected to 3 All-Star games (1974, 1976, and 1977), finished in the top 10 in steals (1974), and on 7 occasions finished in the top 10 in total assists while playing with the Bulls. 

Chet Walker: Chet “The Jet” Walker played his first 6 season’s in Syracuse/Philadelphia; however, just before the start of the 1969 he was traded to the Chicago Bulls and become one of the best players in the history of this franchise. While playing with the Bulls for 6 season, Walker averaged 20.56 points per game to go along with making 4 All-Star Teams with the Bulls and having one of the best shooting percentages in the NBA at that time. Lastly, later this year, Chet Walker will be inducted into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame.

Bob Love: The other three players that had their numbers retired have already been mentioned above (Jordan, Pippen, and Sloan) and the final player, Bob Love, has his number 10 in the rafters of the United Center. Love was a member of the Bulls from 1969-1977 as during this time he was named to 3 All-Star Teams (1971, 1972, and 1973) and twice (while playing with the Bulls) finished in the top 10 in points per game (1971 and 1972). In addition to being a very good offensive player, Love on three occasions was named to the 2nd Team All NBA Defensive Team (1972, 1974, and 1975) and proved to be one of the best all-around players in Bulls history. 

Reggie Theus: Before the Bulls had MJ, Reggie Theus was a very good shooting guard for this franchise. Theus was drafted by the Bulls with the 9th overall pick in the 1978 NBA Draft and averaged 19.52 points per game in 5 seasons with the Bulls. Theus’s only All-Star Game appearances came with the Bulls (1981 and 1983) and during the 1982-1983 season he finished 9th in points per game (23.8) on the season. 

Dennis Rodman: When the Bulls were contemplating trading for former Detroit Piston Dennis Rodman, they had to look at the pro’s and con’s with him and see if he could fit in with the Bulls philosophy. It turned out that he fit in perfectly and with Rodman, the Bulls went on to win 3 more NBA Champions between 1996-1998. While Rodman was a Bull, he was named to a 1st Team All-NBA Defense to go along with leading the league in offensive rebounds 2 of his 3 years he played with the Bulls (1996 and 1997) and the other year (1998) led the league in total rebounds. Rodman was one of the best defenders and rebounders of All-Time it’s why he’s in the NBA Hall-Of-Fame.

Kirk Hinrich: During the 2003 NBA Draft, the Bulls decided to draft point guard (Kirk Hinrich) with the 7th overall pick and he helped the get back to the Playoffs for the 1st Time since the 1998 NBA Finals. As a Bull, Hinrich was named to the 1st Team All-Rookie Team, a 2nd team All-Defensive player, and holds the record for the most 3-pointers made in the history of the Bulls franchise. During his 7 season playing in a Bulls jersey, Hinrich was a very consistent player (averaging 10-15 points per game along with 5-7 assists per game) and helped bring the Bulls back to the Playoffs.

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May at Clark Street Sports

Throughout the month of May, Clark Street Sports will feature a lot of great products that will showcase Chicago’s professional sports teams as they prepare to enter the summer months in Chicago.

Baseball in Chicago is just over a month in and the Cubs and White Sox are preparing for good summers on both sides of town. For the Cubs, it seems like things are  starting to click (playing well against both St.Louis and Philadelphia on the road along with Atlanta at home) and are close to starting a long winning streak. So far, the Cubs have shown that they feature a nice mixture of youngsters and veterans on their roster that have the potential of keeping Chicago in the race as the season goes on. With veterans like Garza, Dempster, Samardzija, Marmol, Soriano, Soto, and DeJesus to along with youngsters Castro, LaHair, and Barney, on their roster, the Cubs feature a nice core of talent for the future. At Clark Street Sports, we carry jersey’s and Tee-Shirts of everyone’s favorite Cubs so the fans of Chicago can support their Cubs throughout the 2012 season.  This team might have gotten off to a slow start, but with the players on their roster, it seems like its only a matter of time until they go on a long winning streak and gets back into the National League Central Division race. Make sure to check out one of our Wrigleyville locations to pickup your Cubs merchandise to support your favorite Cubs all season long. We feature Cubs hats (toddler, youth, kids, men’s and women’s) in different styles (Adjustable, Bucket, Fitted, Flexible, and Visors) so Cubs fans can have a great selection to choose from.

To some, the White Sox have had a surprising start as they got off to a strong start (sweeping the Mariners along with taking 2 of 3 from the Tigers at home) and look like a team that will be here for the longevity of the season. With the White Sox receiving great pitching from Jake Peavy and Philip Humber to go along with offense from Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, the White Sox seem like there a team that should be around for the entire season. Sox fans, make sure to pick up merchandise of your favorite players throughout the season as the contend in the American League Central Division.

Lastly, the NFL Draft has come and gone and now the countdown to Bears Training Camp is underway. The Bears had a terrific offseason addressing a lot of their needs in acquiring a number of positions which include: Defensive End (Shea Mcclellin), Running Back (Michael Bush), and Wide Receiver (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey) while still containing the core of the their 2011 roster. With the additions the Bears made this offseason, it should be a fun 2012 football season as the fans of Chicago should to make sure they show their support for the Bears as they make another run at the Super Bowl. At Clark Street Sports, we have all the Bears merchandise that fans are looking for: tee-shirts (of your favorite Bears), hats and sweatshirts and everything in-between.

In addition to all of these great products, we are preparing to opening a new store in Oak Brook, Illinois (525 Oakbrook Center) that will feature merchandise of Chicago’s Sports Teams.

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Chicago’s Baseball Teams

Both Chicago baseball team’s are just over one month into this season and I feel it’s a good time to analyze both the White Sox and Cubs roster’s and see how they’ve  been doing so far. I wanted to analyze each teams infield, outfield, starting pitching, and relief pitching, along with an overall grade so far at the end.

Chicago Cubs:

Infield: The Cubs have had a mixture of both ups and downs from the different infield positions so far. The good so far has been from both 1st Baseman Bryan LaHair (.390 Average,  7 Home Runs, and 16 RBI) and Shortstop Starlin Castro (.345 Average, 1 Home Run, and 18 RBI) as they’ve helped carry the Cubs offense during the early parts of the season. As for who needs to improve: Geovany Soto (.147 Average, 2 Home Runs, and 3 RBI), Darwin Barney (.245 Average, 1 Home Runs, and 7 RBI), and Ian Stewart (.204 Average, 2 Home Runs, and 10 RBI) haven’t had the starts that they were looking for. Fortunately for the Cubs, the season is young, and the Cubs have only seen a limited number of warm weather games in 2012 so yes, I do feel Barney, Soto, and Stewart have time along with a number of opportunities to improve their stats throughout the season.

Grade: B-

Why this grade: This was a tough grade for me because half of their infield has been tremendous throughout the early parts of the 2012 season however, the other half has gotten off to a slow start to the season. As the season goes on, I believe the B- grade will improve when Wrigley becomes a better stadium to hit at all summer long.

Outfield: It seemed that the Cubs would feature an outfield of David DeJesus, Marlon Byrd, and Alfonso Soriano in 2012, however, this changed as the Cubs decided to trade Center Fielder Marlon Byrd to the Boston Red Sox and now feature a number of different Center Fielder’s. Included in the group of Center Fielders are Tony Campana, Joe Mather, and Reed Johnson as each brings a different dimension to the roster. Campana’s, in his second big league season, has brought a spark to this Cubs offense since Byrd was traded a few weeks ago, hitting .341 to go along with 7 stolen bases during this time. In addition to Campana, newly signed Joe Mather has also put together a solid start to his 2012 season having a .286 Average, 2 Home Runs, and 6 RBI on the season. As for the other two outfield spots, David DeJesus (.242 Average, 0 Home Runs, and 4 RBI) and Alfonso Soriano (.250 Average, 0 Home Runs, and 13 RBI) have both had slow starts but with the weather warming up and the wind blowing out, I feel both players will start to bounce back and be more productive during the Summer months.

Grade: C-

Why this grade: The Cubs Center Fielders have been great so far, however, the others in the outfield have struggled in 2012 but with that said, I know this grade will go up as the season continues on.

Starting Pitching: One of the brightest points on the Cubs roster has come from the teams rotation they’ve been great during the early parts of the 2012 season. Opening Day Starting Pitcher Ryan Dempster (0-1 with a .95 ERA) has only made four starts on the season but has been tremendous in throughout each of the 4 starts (two of the starts he didn’t even allow an earned run), yet he doesn’t have a win to show for it. As for the teams other pitchers, like Dempster, Matt Garza has put together a terrific start to the season having a 2-1 record along with a 2.67 ERA and has been consistent for the Cubs all season long. The biggest question surrounding the 2012 Cubs rotation was with pitcher Jeff Samardzija who went back and forth between Triple A and the Majors (while  being both a starter and reliever) throughout the past few season. During the Cubs 2012 Spring Training, Samardzija showed that he was ready to become a trusted starting pitcher and so far has more than delivered with a 4-1 record to go along with a 3.03 ERA. As for the Cubs forth starter, (Paul Maholm), he’s got off to a bad start (12 Earned Runs in his first 2 starts) but since then has been as good as anyone in baseball (3 Earned Runs given up in his last 3 starts).

Grade: A-

Why this grade: Because four of the Cubs 5 starting pitchers have been outstanding, and Dempster and Garza have looked like Ace’s since Opening Day. As for why it’s not a A, because 5th starter (Chris Volstad) has gotten off to a slow start, however, I feel as he starts to adjust to pitching at Wrigley, he’ll turn into a much better pitcher.

Relief Pitching: Like the Cubs infield, the Cubs bullpen has had its ups and downs throughout the early parts of this season. The good so far has come from a lot of the Cubs younger relievers in James Russell (.79 ERA), Michael Bowden (2.45 ERA), and Rafael Dolis (2.95 ERA to go along with 3 Holds, 2 Saves, and 2 wins on the season. That is a great positive for the Cubs as they’ve found out  they have a lot of younger, reliable relievers to turn to in the future. The down part of the bullpen has come from the veterans as both Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood have both gotten off to slow starts however, the season is young and I do believe both pitchers will be much better as the season goes on.

Grade: C+

Why this grade: There’ve been a lot of nice stories out of the Cubs Bullpen, but when your top two relievers have ERA’s of over 5 along with 3 combined Blown Saves, then its tough to give them a grade above a C+. With that said, I do believe by the start of June, Wood and Marmol will both have much better ERA’s, and the grade will be above a C+.

Final Grade: B-

Why this grade: The Cubs started the season with a 1-5 record (all of the games coming at home) and could have gotten discouraged by the teams start, however to the Cubs credit, they decided to play harder since then and have won 8 of 13 games. The Cubs seem like they’re prepared to start a long winning streak and will be a tough team to beat in the near future.

Chicago White Sox:

Infield/DH: Just like the Cubs, the White Sox infield has been hit or miss all season long with some players putting up great stats while others have gotten off to slow starts. First the positives, as once again First Baseman Paul Konerko is off to another great start to this season (.345 Average, 6 Home Runs, and 18 RBI) and even with the great First Basemen in the American League, I’d be surprised to not see him in Kansas City for the All-Star Game. In addition to Konerko, Catcher AJ Pierzynski has gotten off to a fast 2012 season, especially in the Home Run and RBI categories with 5 Homer’s and 20 RBI along in addition to handling the White Sox rotation. As everyone already knows, in 2011, DH Adam Dunn had a difficult season (.159 Average, 11 Home Runs, and 42 RBI) but a few months later said he would win the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year Award. As for this season, Dunn has gotten off to a good start hitting a Home Run on Opening Day into the Upper Deck of Rangers Stadium, and on May 8th already has as many home runs (9) as he did all of last year (11). Those three players have been great all season long, however, three other White Sox infielders have gotten off to slow starts and have struggled in 2012. Second Baseman Gordon Beckham has become one of the best defenders in all of baseball, but has still had his struggles at the plate (.220 Average, 2 Home Runs, and 7 RBI). As for the left side of the infield, both Shortstop Alexi Ramirez (.192 Average, 1 Home Run, and 13 RBI) and 3rd Baseman Brent Morel (.172 and 4 RBI) have also gotten off to slow starts at the plate this season. I do believe the three infielders will play better in the near future, as Alexi Ramirez has gotten off to slow starts in the past and has still found a way to hit .269 or higher in everyone of his seasons.

Grade: C-

Why this grade: I gave the White Sox a C- because two of the teams infielders are hitting below .200 and another is hitting .220 on the season. This grade would have been even lower if not for the great starts form Konerko, Pierzynski, and Dunn. I feel the White Sox will have a much better grade in June when the weather warms up which also usually means Alexi Ramirez will start playing better.

Outfield: The 2011 Opening Day outfield (Pierre, Rios, and Quentin from left to right) looks completely different from the 2012 Opening Day outfield (Viciedo, De Aza, and Rios). Towards the end of last season, the White Sox decided to bring up Alejandro De Aza and see how he would respond to being in the Majors. Fortunately for the organization, De Aza had a great end to the 2011 season (.329, 4 Home Runs, and 23 RBI) and showed that he could be counted on as the teams starting outfielder, as he’s has had a nice start to the 2012 season (.277 Average, 3 Home Runs, and 9 RBI). As for Rios, he had a difficult 2011 season (.227 Average, 13 Home Runs, and 44 RBI) and never seemed to be comfortable at the plate, however in 2012, it seems like Rios has bounced back (batting .294 on the season) and looks much more comfortable at the plate. As for Left Field, the Chicago felt it was time to give 23-year-old Dayan Viciedo a chance to be a full-time starter in 2012 and its been an up and down year for the first year starter. The up was when Viciedo hit 2 Home Runs in his first 7 games, however, since then, Viciedo’s stats have gone down (.213 Average, 3 Home Runs, 5 RBI) and he’s started to struggle at the plate.

Grade: B-

Why This Grade: Two of the three Chicago outfielders have had solid starts to the season and the third only had 206 At-bats before the start of the 2012 season. The White Sox were hoping to get a solid bounce back year from Rios and so far he has delivered.

Starting Pitching: In Spring Training, the question surrounding the White Sox roatation was who would step up and fill in for former team ace Mark Buehrle. The White Sox thought it would be newly signed John Danks that would step up and become the Ace of the rotation, but in-fact so far its been a former CY Young Award Winner (Jake Peavy), whose stepped up and become the Ace of the Sox staff as he’s 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA on the season. The Sox were unsure how Gavin Floyd would start the season as he usually gets off to slow starts and then starts pitching better as the season progresses on. However, this season has been different as Floyd has a 3.03 ERA and looks like he’s ready to become a true number 2 or 3 MLB starter. The main problem with the Sox rotation has come from the teams 3-5 starters as they’ve either been injured or inconsistent all season long. First the injured, as starter Chris Sale got off to a tremendous start (3-1 with a 2.73 ERA) and looked like he would be able to make the transition from reliever to starter. Unfortunately, Sale has had a few Arm problems and was moved back to the bullpen, leaving a key hole in their rotation that the White Sox need to fill if they want to be a contender in the American League Central. As for the other two starters (Philip Humber and John Danks), they’ve had a few ups (Humber’s perfect game), but have also had a number of down moments (Danks 5.28 ERA and Humber 6.83 ERA) this season.

Grade: B

Why This Grade: This is tough because Peavy, Floyd, (and before he moved to the bullpen) Sale have all had great starts to the season and deserve a tremendous amount of credit for what they’ve done so far, however, with two pitchers having an ERA above 5, the highest grade I could give the pitching staff was a B. With that said, I feel even without Sale, the rotation will only improve in the future months.

Relief Pitching: The White Sox decided to build a bullpen that includes both older and younger players out of the bullpen and so far its been a pretty good success. The Sox young relievers have been great all season long  with Addison Reed (0.00 ERA), Nate Jones (1.64 ERA), Zach Stewart (2.25 ERA), and now Chris Sale. As for the veterans, most have gotten off to a solid start: Crain (2.57 ERA), Thornton (4.15 ERA) and look like they will create an effective bullpen.

Grade: B+

Why this Grade: Because most of the pitchers in the Bullpen have been very productive, I believe this should be the White Sox highest grade and the bullpen (for the most part) has been great all season long.

Final Grade: B

No one knew what to expect from the White Sox this season with a new manager (Robin Ventura) along with almost an entirely new coaching staff and to their credit seem like they’ll be a team that will be in the American League Central Division race all season.

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MLB Top 5 Teams

I know that the season is young and just one month in, but I felt it was a good time to look at who I feel are the 5 best teams in the early parts of the shortened baseball season.

5. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals have the fourth best record in baseball (and have a better record then two of the teams listed below (Nationals and Braves), but I still have a few questions about this team before I place them higher on this list. As everyone knows, St. Louis had a crazy offseason (celebrating a World Series, lost one of the best players of All-Time, and then signed Carlos Beltran) but quietly got off to a great start this season. After one month, the Cardinals rank 1st (as a team) in baseball in runs and on baseball percentage and second in the league in batting average. So how are the Cardinals doing all of this without Albert Pujols? St. Louis has been able to do this with a consistent offense, as they have a different player at each of the top major categories: Average (John Jay), Home Runs (Carlos Beltran), and RBI’s (David Freese). It’s amazing that not one of these players listed on above is one of the team’s top hitters from last year (Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Lance Berkman), and yet they still rank as one of the best offense’s in all of baseball. Even more amazing with the Cardinals is that the teams number one and two starters have been ineffective so far (Chris Carpenter has been on the DL and Adam Wainwright has an ERA of 6.75 on the season) and are still a top 5 team. St. Louis has been able to receive a great amount of help from the other starters in their rotation which includes: Jame Garcia (2-1 and a 2.78 ERA), Jake Westbrook (3-2 with a 2.12 ERA), Kyle Lohse (4-0 with a 1.62 ERA), and fill-in Lance Lynn (5-0 to go along with a 1.60 ERA).

Will this continue? Yes, I do feel the Cardinals will continue their solid play and will be at the top of the National League Central when the May ends. Why do I feel this way? Because I believe they feature a good veteran led roster that will continue to only get healthier as the season goes on.

4. Washington Nationals: The Nationals felt they had one of the best young pitching staff’s in all of baseball, however, I’m just not sure they thought it would all come together so quickly. At the end of the 2011 season, Washington decided to have Stephen Strasburg make a few starts at the end of the 2011 season to see what the Strasburg-Zimmerman combination would look like in the future. After the season, the Nationals needed a young left-handed starter that would be able to pitch alongside the two young righties they already feature on their roster. In late December, they Nationals were able to add this player to their roster by trading for 2011 All-Star Gio Gonzalaez. With those three pitchers intact, the Nationals decided to add a veteran to the mix by signing Edwin Jackson to add depth to their roster. As the season was starting, Washington realized that they featured a really good young 5 man rotation when 5th starter Ross Detwiler got off to a great start and has arguably been the teams best pitcher in the early part of the season. This is one of the few teams in baseball that features an entire rotation that’s under 30 years old: Edwin Jackson (28), Ross Detwiler (26), Gio Gonzalez (26), Jordan Zimmerman (25), and Stephen Strasburg (23). As good as their starting pitching’s been so far, the teams bullpen and hitting haven’t been nearly as successful. A few of the National hitters have had good years (Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, and Ian Desmond) but they need for others player to step up and for those three to continue their play as of late.

Will this continue? I feel the Nats will continue to feature a good record but I’m not sure if they can continue this throughout the entire summer and into the fall. With that said, Washington’s offense will be much better in the future as they’ve decided to bring up top prospect Bryce Harper and will soon have one of the teams best hitters returning in Michael Morse (who had a .303 Average, 31 Home Runs, and 95 RBI’s on the season). Washington should have a great young pitching staff to go along a solid lineup that will compete with teams in the future. Washington is a team that will be there for the longevity of the season; however, I’m not sure if their ready to compete for a playoff spot and play into October.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers had a great end to the 2011 season and have continued this into the 2012 season. Many felt that Matt Kemp should have won the 2011 National League MVP Award (finished 2nd to Ryan Braun) and but has proven that it’s only motivated him to be better than ever as he’s had an incredible start to the 2012 season (.411 Average, 12 Home Runs, and 25 RBI’s). In addition to Kemp, the man who bats behind him, Andre Ethier (.287 Average, 6 Home Runs, and 27 RBI’s (which leads all of baseball)) have combined to form one of the best right-left combinations in baseball. The rest of the Dodgers team has been productive this year being in the top 1/3 in batting average (10th) and top 1/2 in runs (14th) but its Ethier and Kemp who have turned the Dodgers into such a good offense. As for their pitching staff, the five of them have been productive all season long featuring a combined 3.45 team ERA on the season. The starting rotation includes the reigning CY Young Award winner in Clayton Kershaw, who once again got off to another solid start (2-0 with a 2.63 ERA). As good as Kershaw is and has been, if the Dodgers want to win the National League West and be a contender for a World Series, they know they need to receiver help from other places. Fortunately for the Dodgers, they’ve received great pitching from all of their starting pitchers which include Ted Lilly (3-0 and a 1.38 ERA), Chad Billingsley (2-1 with a 3.22 ERA), and Chris Capuano (3-0 and a 2.73 ERA).

Will this continue? I don’t see why not. The Dodgers have the best hitter in baseball, the one of the best pitcher’s in baseball, along with a few other MLB Players on their roster (Ethier, Loney, Gordon, Lilly, Billingsley, Jansen, and Guerra). In the end, I believe the Dodgers will be a playoff team and with their new ownership grouo will look to add another pitcher at the deadline.

2. Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays made an incredible run in 2011 by coming out of nowhere and making the playoff as a Wild Card winner. Unlike the 2010 offseason, Tampa Bay knew that the majority of their roster would stay intact or improve for the 2012 season as they only had a few free agents after the 2011 season. As for their roster, the Rays feature an incredible 5 man rotation that includes Jeremy Hellickson, David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, and Matt Moore as it seems that you never get a night off when facing this Rays pitching staff. Like the Nationals, Tampa Bay has a staff that only features one starting pitcher above 30 years old (Shields is 30), as the other are all below 30: Niemann (29), Price (26), Hellickson (25), and Moore (22). Lastly, their offense, has one of the best third basemen in all of baseball (Evan Longoria) to go along with B.J. Upton, Matt Joyce, Carlos Pena, Desmond Jennings, and Ben Zobrist.

Will this continue: If the offense is able to continue their ways with Longoria on the DL for a few weeks, then yes, if not, then it will be tough. The Rays are a team that usaualy doesn’t depend on great offense as they instead rely on pitching and defense so yes, I do feel they will be in the thick of things as the season continues.

1. Texas Rangers: There are a lot of good teams this year, however, there’s one team that seems to be head and shoulders above the others: the two time defending American League Champion Texas Rangers. First, the Rangers lineup is as good as ever with 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton (.381 Average, 9 Home Runs, and 26 RBI’s) to go along with All-Stars Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli (hasn’t made an All-Star Game yet, but will make one in the future), and Nelson Cruz. This lineup is so balanced that their offense can beat you with power, speed, or a combination of the two. As for their pitching rotation, its not the most overpowering rotation, but they do a solid job which nicely complement’s their offense. The rotation has a nice mixture of righties (3) and lefties (2) and is led by Derek Holland to go along with newly signed Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Neftali Feliz, and Matt Harrison. In addition to their starting staff, Texas has one of the best bullpens in the Majors which includes Mike Adams, Aleci Ogando, Mark Lowe, along with closer Joe Nathan. The Rangers have a great combination of offense and pitching on their roster and will be tough team beat in 2012.

Will this continue: I would be shocked if the Rangers didn’t continue to be one of the best teams in 2012 as I feel Texas is determined to get back to the World Series and finally bring the state of Texas their first World Series Championship. The majority of the Rangers players are in the prime’s of their career and their roster has learned from the mistakes that they made from their previous two playoff appearances.

Team to watch: Atlanta Braves: The Braves got off to a slow start (loosing their first four games) but since then, have gone 18-7 to take over second place (a 1/2 game behind the Nationals in the NL East) and will soon become the NL East Division Leaders. Atlanta features one of the best offenses (4th best team average (.271) along with the most runs (162)) in all of baseball. As for the teans pitching staff, they feature a good combination of veterans in All-Star’s Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens to go along with youngsters Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson, Randall Delgado, and Mike Minor. Their offense also includes a lot of youth (Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward) veterans (Michael Bourn and Martin Prado) and All-Stars (Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla, and Brian McCann) on their roster. Earlier this season, Braves great Chipper Jones announced that this would be his final season playing in the majors and I feel this will motivate the Braves to go far in the Playoffs for their captain so he can go out on top.

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