Rainy day sports thoughts:
We will start with the Cubs, the defending champs are having some issues. Sure they are 13–11 and still lead the division. There are some things that need correcting to make sure the Cubs put themselves in a position to repeat as World Series champions. Number 1: Defense. A Mark Simon tweet pointed out that the Cubs are among the worst teams in baseball at converting flies, popups, and outfield liners in play into outs. They have only converted 59.5% of those into outs. Sure that might be BABIP bad luck in the early going for the season, but what if it is a problem? Do I know how to fix it? No. Number 2: The Cubs have been putrid with runners in scoring position. The Cubs are last in all of baseball with 4.17 runners left in scoring position. Sure they left a lot of runners on base last season, but they still scored runs when it mattered. This years club with their 13–11 record just hasn’t gotten it done, they just dont score with that runner on third. Number 3: Starting pitching. The Cubs starters have gotten roughed up in the first inning a lot this year. The Cubs have allowed a league high 1.17 runs in the first on average. The Cubs starters are also eighth from the bottom in starter ERA. I dont know if this is small sample size theater, but there are genuine concerns when it comes to Lackey and Anderson, as well as consistency when it comes to the velo gap of Kyle Hendricks. Do I think the Cubs are doomed? No not at all. There are just some gaps in the complete game I know they can play.
So the NFL draft is over and the Eagles I thought did a great job in finding value. Their first round selection of Derek Barnett was genius. He is a hard nosed defensive end that may not have the reach that most NFL DE’s do, but he does have the hustle and drive to be successful in the league. He personally reminds me of a Robert Mathis, both extremely efficient pass rushers (Barnett broke Reggie Whites Sack Record at Tennessee) and didnt have the longest of arms. I am excited to see him develop under Jim Schwartz. The rest of the Eagles draft is okay to good. I love the Sidney Jones pick even more than Barnett. With modern medicine an achilles injury isn’t a back breaker for a players career anymore. The Eagles got an elite defensive back in the second round. The draft pick thats most intriguing to me is Donnel Pumphrey. I know this is the biggest cliche in football but he really is the next Darren Sproles. The all time leading NCAA rusher is small and fast, and yes he can catch out of the backfield. The Eagles still have a need for a big workhorse running back. Maybe Howie and Doug can make a call to Christine Michael.
The Illini finally have a Mr. Basketball from the state of Illinois again in the form of Edwardsville guard Mark Smith. Its been awhile right? The first recruit of the Brad Underwood era is so splashy yet really grounded. His recruitment was simple, something that hasnt been seen in quite sometime. From Cliff, to Quinten, to Jalen, to Tilmon. Mark Smith had his visits and committed. No top lists on twitter, no overly cryptic tweets or Instagram posts. Just simple. Mark emulates his future head coach in the way they go about their business, they dont need attention. Just a quiet confidence that feels like they still draw a presence anywhere they go. Its with that presence that I feel like Mark will be able to draw in future talent like an EJ Liddell or maybe a big fish that new assistant Orlando Antigua is trying to reel in.
The Bulls…..yep the Bulls. We all know the problems with their roster, their coaching (FREE DENZEL) and GarPax. I have zero faith the Bulls know what to do at all with themselves. I have a feeling they will stay the course re-sign Wade and Rondo and try to make a splash and get Griffin. They will fail of course and sign a vet while saying “they are trying to get younger and more athletic” as if they know what those words actually mean.
The more I think of it, I like the Bears going for it with Mitch(ell) Tribusky. They could have an Eagles Bradford situation pop up where a QB injury happens in camp and they trade Glennon and recoup all the picks.
Aaron Judge is a monster, his long arms are not having any trouble getting to the inside heat.
Mike Trout yep still good, nothing to add.
Cavs and Warriors are going to happen for a third time. The Cavs will win.