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Sports Is Good, Y’All!

Hello, sports fans! Welcome to your daily dose of sports news and commentary from Clarks Street Sports!

Baseball

Air Soriano

Air Soriano

Despite the alarming lack of enthusiasm coming from the world of baseball, there sure is a lot of news coming out of the North Side. First, and most pressing, is that the City Council will decide on the final approval for the renovations scheduled for Wrigley Field. If this passes, and it looks like it will, a planned five year reconstruction of Wrigley will begin this fall. Only the two outfield signs, the jumbotron scoreboard in left field and the see-through sign in right field, are approved so as not to obstruct the view from the rooftops as there is another decade left on the rooftop contract. Rahm Emanuel’s proposed pedestrian footbridge over Clark Street has been “deferred indefinitely” and any other renovations will be discussed within the Wrigleyville community between residents, the Cubs owners, and the rooftop businesses, Emanuel hopes. This is indeed a sad day for those pushing to keep the historic landmark preserved.

On the heels of Matt Garza’s trade comes word that Alfonso Soriano will also be traded. Soriano is currently in discussion with Theo Epstein about his trade destinations and waiving his no-trade rights. Soriano has name-dropped the New York Yankees as his desired destination, but Epstein says there is nothing solid coming from New York as of yet. Soriano said, “[The Yankees] always make the playoffs no matter what team they have, no matter what pitching they got. They find a way.” Clearly Soriano wants to be on a team that will showcase him and Epstein is itching to restructure the entire team, disregarding fan favoritism of players and the class of players that were brought on in the 2006-2007 spending spree.

Junior Lake is killing it, y'all

Junior Lake is killing it, y’all

Junior Lake represents the new class of Cubs being molded to focus on becoming a team worthy of playing in an expensive renovated ballpark that is irritating half of the city of Chicago. He went 3-for-5 with a homerun against the Diamondbacks. Tuesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks found the Cubs reacting with flared tempers and childish outbursts that resulted in a 4-10 loss. Sveum was ejected in the third inning after being vocal about believing that the umpire was baiting a conflict with Cody Ransom after he flung his bat after being struckout. This was Sveum’s fourth ejection this season. Ransom also threw his helmet after lining out with bases loaded. Anthony Rizzo tossed his bat after a painful strikeout as well. As the Cubs rebuild the stadium, it is clear that they are incredibly busy rebuilding the team and the team dynamic.

Basketball

Goodbye, Malcolm

The Bulls are hoping that waiving Malcolm Thomas will give their roster the flexibility necessary to acquire Marcus Camby. Though the Rockets are the likely frontrunner in the Camby acquisition, the Bulls are hoping that this 6’11” center will add another rebounding presence on the court with skills comparable to Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.

Hockey

We are the champions, my friend!

We are the champions, my friend!

This weekend is the great Chicago Blackhawks convention where Blackhawks fans can meet and mingle with Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, and Bryan Bickell. Niklas Hjmarsson is getting married this weekend and Brent Seabrook is at home in Canada awaiting the arrival of his child, so though they will be missed, we wish them both heart-felt congratulations!

Football

Roar

Roar

Bears training camp begins tomorrow and we are so excited for football season we will be announcing a Bears contest next week on our Facebook page. Head over to http://www.facebook.com/clarkstreetsports, like our page, and keep your eyes peeled for our big contest to kick off football season!

Get styling

Get styling

In the meantime, check out our Blackhawks championship shirts (http://tinyurl.com/ltf7n5c) and get yourself prepared for the Blackhawks convention. Sports is good, Chicago, so let’s party with the Blackhawks!

 

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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 MLB.com) 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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National League West Spring Training Preview

The 2011 NL West title was won by the team who had the 6th lowest payroll ($53,639,833) in the MLB: the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2011 Diamondbacks featured a lot of young players to go along with veterans that other teams didn’t want on their roster. Besides the Dbacks, the rest of the division was far less than spectacular with Arizona being the only team that finished with more than 87 wins.  Outside of the Dbacks, the other teams in the division had either multiple health problem on their team or a significant off the field distraction.

Arizona Diamondbacks: What a magical season last season was by the young and exciting Arizona Diamondbacks. Before the 2011 season started, the Diamondbacks were picked by the prognosticators to finish in last place and receive a high draft-pick in the following year’s draft. At the start of the season it looked like the prognosticators would be correct as the Dbacks had a 11-15 April. However, after the month of April, Arizona went 83-53 the rest of the season and in fact finished every other month with a record of better than .500. Manager of the year award winner Kirk Gibson built a staff that featured a great deal of successful former players that included former Cubs manager Don Baylor, former Cub infielder Eric Young, and former Indians Ace Charles Nagy. As for the players, they were led by MVP candidate Justin Upton, and even though the Diamondbacks didn’t feature the greatest offense (hitting .250 as a team), they always seemed to get a key hit when they neded it most last year. As for this year’s lineup, Arizona should have shortstop Steven Drew back from his injury to go alongside Upton, Chris Young, Ryan Roberts, Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero, and former Twins outfielder Jason Kubel. As for the pitching staff, the Diamondbacks finished in the top-half of the league last year with a 3.80 team ERA. Led by Ace Ian Kennedy, (who finished fourth in the Cy-Young voting with a 21-4 record and a 2.88 ERA), Arizona also features other young pitchers Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders, and Josh Collmenter to go along with former A’s All-Star Trever Cahill. On paper, Arizona should be an even more improved team this year and once again compete for a division title.

San Francisco Giants: The 2010 World Series Champs had a difficult 2011 season that started off on the wrong foot when star catcher Buster Posey was apart of a collision at the plate and unfortunately needed surgery for torn ligaments in his left ankle and a broken bone in his lower left leg. Once Posey went down for the year, the Giants season started to unravel and the team never recovered. As the season progressed on, it seemed like the entire season the Giants were trying to find the chemistry they had from the year before but never could find it. As for this year, if Posey is healthy, the Giants once again should compete for a division title or at the minimum a playoff spot. San Francisco is fractionate that they have two of the top National League pitchers in their rotation with 2-time Cy-Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and All-Star Matt Cain along with young up-and-comer Madison Bumgarner and 2011 All-Star Ryan Vogelsong. The Giants also feature one of the best bullpen’s in baseball led by Brian “The Beard” Wilson, along with veteran relievers Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez. As for the Giants offense, it showed a few holes that were exposed last year which led to the Giants finishing with the 3rd worst team average in baseball last year. For the Giants to be successful this year, they need Pablo Sandoval to continue his play from last year, Buster Posey to come back fully healthy, newcomers Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan to hit at least .280 this year, and Aubrey Huff to return to his career averages and not last years stats. If the Giants offense returns and the pitching stays healthy, the Giants will be close to the top of the NL West Division the entire year.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Throughout entire 2011 season, the Dodgers were surrounded with a Hollywood Drama as they featured questions about the teams future with Dodgers ownership in such chaos. At the start of the season, the Dodgers and first year manager Don Mattingly looked distracted by the situation as they had a losing recorded in each of the first four months. As August started, the Dodgers finally started playing good baseball and as they finished with a record above the .500 mark (82-79). As tough a season as it was for Los Angeles, outfielder Matt Kemp almost hit for the triple crown (.324 average, 39 Home Runs, and 126 RBI) and pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the Cy Young Award last year (21-5 record with a 2.28 ERA). For the Dodgers to be successful in 2012, they need pitcher Chad Billingsley to take the next step and become a All-Star caliber pitcher, the rest of the rotation to become capable 3-5 starters, and have Andre Ethier return to the player he was in 2010. If this occurs, Los Angeles should become a contender in the NL West. On the other hand, if the Dodgers don’t get off to a good start, they should look to trade star outfielder Andre Ethier (his contract is up after this year), and add more depth to their minor league system.

Colorado Rockies: With Prince Fielder signing with the Detroit Tigers, the Rockies now  feature the best 3-4 under 27 years and under combination in baseball with Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The 2011 Rockies were surrounded all season by the question of wither they would trade Ubaldo Jimenez or not. In the end, just a few days before the trade deadline the Rockies decided to trade Jimenez to Cleveland for former first round picks Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. I feel that Ubaldo is a very good pitcher, but White and Pomeranz have the potential to become two of the key fixtures in the Rockies rotation in 2012 and beyond. As for 2012, the Rockies once again will feature one of the best lineups in baseball highlighted by Tulowitzki and Gonzalez to go along with Dexter Fowler, Todd Helton, former Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer, and veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez. Like many other Rockies teams, this teams ceiling will be determined by their rotation. The rotation features young starters Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood, Guillermo Moscoso, and Drew Pomeranz along with veteran and former Orioles starter, Jeremy Guthrie. If the pitching of the Rockies is holds up and is consistent, the Rockies just might be October baseball once again, however, if the pitching is inconsistent and not reliable, the Rockies season will be over before the trade deadline.

San Diego Padres: After having a great 2010 season, slugger and San Diego native Adrian Gonzalez was traded to Boston for a package that included prospects Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo (whose name will be brought up in a few sentences). The 2011 Padres never recovered from the loss of Gonzalez and finished the 2011 season 20 games below .500 (71-91). After the season, the Padres decided to trade Ace Mat Latos to Cincinnati for top prospects Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal along with former All-Star pitcher Edinson Volquez. With the Padres holding onto two of the best first base prospects in baseball, the Padres decided to trade Anthony Rizzo (see, I told you I would address him again) to the Cubs for pitcher Andrew Cashner. In the offseason, the Padres also added all-star closer Huston Street along with former White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin to improve their offense. The 2012 Padres will feature an interesting lineup which includes: Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Orlando Hudson  and Chase Headley to along with pitchers Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, and Cory Luebke. As for the 2012 San Diego Padres, I don’t see this Padres team becoming a contender this season, at the same time, former GM Jed Hoyer (now the Cubs GM) has left the Padres with a wealth of prospects in their minor league system. The Padres future looks bright, but the 2012 Padres season might be tough on Padres fans.

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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in MLB, Sports

 

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