Let’s call it Wednesday

Posted: February 14, 2018 by Sports Time Radio in baseball, basketball, football, hockey, sports, Sports Time Radio, Uncategorized

Now I’m sure I’ve mentioned multiple times that the Sports Time Radio podcast emanates from the Chicago suburbs. The four of us that you hear on the podcast all live in the Chicagoland area and have a rooting interest in the Chicago teams. Sadly right now it seems as though we have just baseball season to look forward to.

For about 10 seasons the Chicago Blackhawks where a serious threat to win the Stanley Cup and they did actually win it three times in six seasons. Now the Blackhawks have fallen. Last season they did get into the playoffs, but they where quickly eliminated in the 1st round. This season it’s even worse for the Blackhawks as they are currently in last place in the Central division. Through 57 games this season the Blackhawks are 24-25-8 and have 56 points. Last night the Blackhawks lost their 7th straight game 5-2 to the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Now there are some obvious reason for the Blackhawks slipping to where they are. They’ve had salary cap issues since winning their first Stanley Cup. Injuries are always a factor as they lots Marion Hossa probably forever and Corey Crawford has played just 28 games in goal for them this season. There is also the fact that the rest of the NHL has just caught up to the Blackhawks. Chicago was really one of the first teams in the NHL to embrace the speed side of the game and it paid off in multiple Stanley Cup’s.

How do the Blackhawks fix this, is what everyone wants to know. First off a healthy Crawford makes them a lot better, but they also need their young guys to perform like they’re expected to.

Nick Schmaltz is 20 years old and has 15 goals and 24 assists while Alex DeBrincat who is just 19 years old has 21 goals and 16 assists this season. Ryan Hartman is just 22 years old and is putting up solid number with 7 goals and 15 assists, but they’re really the only two younger Blackhawks who have been good this season. Connor Murphy looks to be coming along as a defenseman and is just 23 years old; so there are some guys who look like they can contribute in the future.

Of course the Blackhawks also need their top guys to stay as top guys. Patrick Kane is still that guy. Kane is tied for the team lead in goals with 21 and leads the team in assists with 32. Jonathan Toews is having another solid season as he has 15 goals and 21 assists. It’s difficult to believe that Duncan Keith doesn’t have a goal through 57 games and is a -13. Keith is a former Norris Trophy winner and his struggles on defense and the teams struggles on defense as a whole may be the biggest issues the Blackhawks will need to correct this coming off season.

Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp where both brought back to help this team out and it hasn’t paid off this season. Saad has 13 goals and 11 assists while Sharp has 6 goals and 8 assists. While it’s nice to see the guys who where here when the team started winning Stanley Cup’s, it would be nice if they added something.

Now any team that has Kane and Toews on it can turn things around quickly; so don’t be surprised if the Blackhawks are back in the playoffs next season.

Of course the other big time winter sport is basketball and in Chicago we have the tanking Chicago Bulls.

It’s humorous that the Bulls would prefer to lose games and they’ve some how managed to win 20 games so far this season. There are seven teams in the NBA with worse records than the Bulls and to rebuild and rebuild quickly you need to be drafting inside the Top 5 and in some cases inside the Top 3 to improve quickly.

As you look at the current Bulls roster it’s unclear if any of these players with the exception of Lauri Markkanen will still be with the team when they get back into the playoffs. There are high hopes for Zach LaVine, but he’s coming back from injury and has to prove that he’s more than just a highlight dunker. The Bulls where very interested in Kris Dunn in the 2016 draft, but the Minnesota Timberwolves took him with the 5th pick. Chicago acquired Dunn with LaVine and the draft pick that turned out to be Markkanen for Jimmy Butler and a draft pick that Minnesota used on Justin Patton. Dunn was solid for the Bulls until he got injured. It looks as though Dunn will return tonight against the Toronto Raptors, but it’s unclear how many minutes he’ll actually get. Do you see LaVine or Dunn being on a Bulls playoff team?

While it seems as though tanking is the way to go in the NBA. Remember that the Philadelphia 76ers started their rebuild in 2013 and they still haven’t found their way back into the playoffs and still aren’t close to contending for an NBA title. How far away from the playoffs are the Bulls? and how long will it take them to be an NBA title contender?

Luckily for us here in the Chicagoland area it’s almost baseball season. With the addition of Yu Darvish the Chicago Cubs should be considered a World Series contender.

The Cubs should have a very good starting rotation with Darvish being added to the likes of Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood. The biggest pitching question the Cubs have is will their closer hold up. Brandon Morrow is taking the role for the very first time. Morrow was injury prone as a starter, but seems to have found a home in the bullpen. Morrow made 45 appearances last season covering 43 2/3rd innings, but as a closer he’ll be asked to pitch more than he did last season which was his first full season in the bullpen. The Cubs also signed Steve Cishek this off season. Cishek was the closer for the Seattle Mariners in 2016 until he had some struggles and was replaced by Edwin Diaz. Cishek has posted two 30 plus save seasons in his career and could be a good back up if Morrow struggles.

With an everyday line up that should be one of the best in baseball and now a starting rotation that should compare to anyone’s, the only question the Cubs may have is will that bullpen hold up.

Baseball wise Chicago also has the White Sox. Now the White Sox started their rebuild last season and where some promising signs heading into this season.

A young rotation featuring a healthy Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez should be interesting to watch. It’s possible that Rodon won’t be ready for opening day and there’s no reason for the White Sox to rush him. After struggling with the Washington Nationals Giolito was good in his 7 starts for the White Sox last season. Giolito posted a 2.38 E.R.A. while going 3-3 and pitching 45 1/3rd innings. Lopez made 8 starts and went 3-3 as well, but had a higher E.R.A. at 4.72 over 47 2/3rd innings.

The White Sox have held onto Jose Abreu so far and look like he’s the veteran they’re going to build around; so they’ll get at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s out of him. Will get to see a full season of Yoan Moncada. Avisail Garcia hit .330 last season; so maybe he’s going to get close to the player a lot of people though he was going to be. Don’t forget that Matt Davidson also hit 26 home runs in 118 games last season.

While the White Sox will probably be a sub .500 team again in 2018 there should be some interesting young players to keep an eye on.

The Sports Time Radio podcast is available for you to listen to live in BlogTalkRadio.com, but you can also listen to the podcast any time you want at TuneIn.com.

Don’t forget to look me up on Twitter @Burketime.

 

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