All posts by Deb Baratz

How Much Will the Bears Really Improve this Season?

On Friday, the Chicago Bears veteran linebacker Brian Urlacher was asked by WMVP-AM if this year’s Bears’ team was the best one yet. He enthusiastically responded Yes! and said, “It’s not even close. The talent we have on this team is phenomenal — Brandon Marshall, Jay Cutler is healthy, our O-line is huge. I haven’t talked about our defense yet but our offensive line, they’re big. They’re big bodies in there.”

He added, “On defense, we’re pretty much the same as we have been. We have a couple of young guys in there. It’s exciting to watch. You know, I haven’t been able to participate but it’s been fun to watch so far.”

Ok, I don’t think Urlacher would have said this if he didn’t mean it and entering season No. 12, he’s seen a lot of the good and the bad. But I have to think there’s still problems with this team. My biggest concern with Urlacher’s proclamation is the Bears’ O-line. Continue reading How Much Will the Bears Really Improve this Season?

Chicago Bulls Collapse: Looking Ahead to Next Season

For Chicago Bulls fans, Thursday night was a tough one. With the team’s 79-78 loss against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Bulls’ season came to an end and provided an opportunity for fans and players to lament what happened.

But really the end for the team didn’t come on Thursday but instead happened when Derrick Rose tore his ACL in Game 1.

Yes, that just increased the writing on the wall that had already started with the NBA’s shortened season. While the Bulls received their No. 1 seed for the postseason for its second consecutive year, it didn’t really matter. They were doomed.

The Bulls will return hungry next season–even though they arrived hungry this season. But how much of the same team will we see?

Here’s a few thoughts. Continue reading Chicago Bulls Collapse: Looking Ahead to Next Season

Tim Tebow: Yes Controversial, But Influential?

This week, TIME magazine released its annual 100 most influential people in the world list. Included in the impressive list this year, were six professional athletes including New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow.

My first reaction was yes, Tebow is controversial and polarizing but really, influential? Continue reading Tim Tebow: Yes Controversial, But Influential?

NL Central Injury Roundup

With less than a week to go for the MLB season to kick off, lingering injuries are now becoming potential concerns for players and teams.

Let’s take a look at some around the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs: Pitcher Kerry Woods has been missing for the last eight games with an unidentified injury. Manager Dale Sveum shot down rumors that it’s a lingering back issue. He said, “[The back] is not the issue it’s just backing off to ease on into the season after getting built up and ready to go a couple of weeks ago.”

What’s next for Woods? He’s supposed to pitch in Saturday’s game. On Monday morning he had a bullpen session and will pitch the following Monday. That will be it until Opening Day when the Cubs play the Nationals.

Should Cubs fans be concerned? No. Woods didn’t have a lot of power last year and probably won’t see much of a change this year.

Cincinnati Reds: On Tuesday, right-handed pitcher Mat Latos strained his left Continue reading NL Central Injury Roundup

Tebow to the Big Apple

In a week full of change for many NFL quarterbacks, perhaps the most interesting one is today’s news that Denver has traded Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. So much for Tebow’s desired return to the Sunshine State.

Besides a flurry of attention, what else did the Jets get for Tebow? They also got a seventh-round pick while the Broncos gave up a fourth-round and sixth-round draft picks.

So how will Tebowmania fare in the Big Apple? Here’s a few thoughts.

Continue reading Tebow to the Big Apple

NL Central News: Carpenter Recovering, Schaefer Finding Success, Cubs Pick Up De La Cruz

Chris Carpenter Throws Bullpen Session

After throwing  his last bullpen session on March 3, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter returned on Friday. He threw for 30 pitches (all fastballs) and gave a thumbs up.

Recovering from a neck injury, Carpenter said, “”I was happy with it. Again, it was another step in the right direction. It was a little better than I had hoped. Neck feels good. Arm feels good. I hope tomorrow I wake up and feel good.”

But Cardinals fans shouldn’t get too excited; the veteran pitcher won’t be pitching in a game anytime soon. Patience will be requied.

Carpenter isn’t 100 percent up to speed and gave himself a 70 to 75 percent throwing ability. He added, “After today, I’d say I need a couple more (side sessions). That’s only 30 fastballs. I’m not going to go into a game with that. The next (session) will dictate more about that than this one.”

Have the Astros Found a Good Offensive Weapon with Jordan Schaefer?

Continue reading NL Central News: Carpenter Recovering, Schaefer Finding Success, Cubs Pick Up De La Cruz

Give Brandon Marshall A Chance

On Tuesday afternoon as soon as NFL free agency started, one of the first stories to hit the news wires was the Chicago Bears trade for Miami Dolphins’ Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The team gave up two third-round picks for the player.

Marshall is being perceived as the big target Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been looking for in his past three seasons. I guess Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Roy Williams aren’t cutting it as any Bears fan knows.

So the team finally went out and got one in the free agency market for its big-armed quarterback. Continue reading Give Brandon Marshall A Chance

NL Central News: Carpenter Has Neck Problems, Braun Gets His First Hit, Ramirez Fires Back

As teams are working their way through Spring Training, here’s a look at some recent news around the NL Central.

Chris Carpenter Has Neck  Problems

On Friday, the St. Cardinals admitted they are worried about right-handed pitcher Chris Carpenter’s stiff neck. The cause hasn’t been determined and now the player will return to St. Louis to see a specialist, according to reports on FridayContinue reading NL Central News: Carpenter Has Neck Problems, Braun Gets His First Hit, Ramirez Fires Back

Milwaukee Brewers Preview

After taking a look at the Cubs and voicing a few concerns, it’s time to head north and check out the Milwaukee Brewers. While there’s been some coaching and player changes, the Brewers are in pretty good shape for the 2012 season.

Pitching

Few teams can compete with the Brewers’ starting duo of Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke. Their bullpen also brings depth with John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez.

Starter Shaun Marcum is again not having a good spring with a sore right shoulder. He doesn’t want talk about it until after his first start which is scheduled for Saturday, March 10.

This doesn’t sound good and now Ron Roenicke will look to Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers and Wily Peralt for possible help.

Continue reading Milwaukee Brewers Preview

Cards Sign Monster Contract with Molina: Is he Overpaid?

On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals signed a five-year, $75 million contract with their Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina. Cardinals fans will now see their favorite catcher remaining with the team through 2017.

And should the team want to keep Molina around for a sixth year, the contract comes with a $15 million option.

With his new signing, he is now the second-highest paid catcher in the MLB, according to CBS Sports. Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer has the honor of the top dog with his eight-year, $184 million contract.

Molina said of his contract,

“I grew up here, I feel good here. It was my first choice to stay here.” Continue reading Cards Sign Monster Contract with Molina: Is he Overpaid?