Category Archives: MLB

Thank Yu: Jed Hoyer Pulls Trigger on Darvish Trade

When you woke up this morning Chicago Cubs fans, how were you feeling with news of the Yu Darvish trade to the San Diego Padres? I am genuinely curious because I am excited. I have been reading a lot of different opinions on this subject matter in the last 24 hours. From the knowledge I was able to gather, not many people liked it.

Well, I am here to tell you why it was the exact move the Cubs needed to make. I am not here to change your mind. I am only here to give you a positive outlook on your current situation… as a Cub fan.

Hoyer Trades Yu Darvish to Padres

Had to Happen

Darvish was second in the National League in CY Young voting. He also posted a 2.01 earned run average and going 8-3 in a pandemic ridden season where the Cubs were swept from the playoffs for the second time in three years. Also, might I add how disappointing the end of the 2019 season was as well? The one where we entered September with a 5.5 game lead and lost the division within two weeks. Yeah, those were some rough times.

Nothing frustrates me more when a team is not playing to their potential and that is exactly what the Cubs have been doing over the last couple of seasons. As much fun as winning in the regular season is. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will ever be as special as that October in 2016. Call me greedy, but I want that again. Oh so desperately. I listen to playoff highlights in my car because of the goosebumps it brings back to me.

I live for moments such as Miguel Montero breaking open Game 1 of the League Championship Series with a game-breaking/essentially ending grand slam. That absolutely rocked Wrigley Field to its core. Those are the moments I want back again and the way the roster is currently constructed is just not going to do it anymore.

Trading Darvish is Good

Yes, I know you do not know any of the four 18-20-year-olds with little to no experience. That is ok, you will. Things like this take time and while the Dodgers, Padres, and Braves battle it out for the National League crown, we will continue to acquire talent. Because this time around, the rebuild will be much quicker. The Cubs already have major league talent ready to trade.

Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, Kyle Hendricks, and other over-performing players. The Cubs will enter the season with some of their current roster intact. But if and when one of those guys gets off to a hot start, the Cubs will be evaluating and looking to shore up their farm system and reload for the future.

Enjoy This Season

You may still be in a state of confusion about what the Cubs are doing but it is truly time. the days of 2016 are gone and if I am to be hyper-critical right now the Cubs over the past three seasons have been major disappointments. We saw the cracks begin in 2017 when we somehow survived an NLDS against the Washington Nationals, and then got absolutely ran over by the Dodgers in the LCS.

The end of 2018 and 2019 was equally disappointing. It’s time to start getting some return for the remaining assets we have. This return could be beautiful due to the talent that remains on the roster. Hendricks can be a top-10 pitcher in the game. He’s shown his poise and control ever since coming to the big league level. Contreras is a top-five catcher in the game currently and there are a lot of teams that are looking to take their signal-caller to the next level.

You love the players from this team because odds are they brought you some of the happiest moments of your life as a sports fan. Sadly, we are Cubs fans and we just lived through the greatest era of Chicago Cubs baseball history. Just let that sink in. Now, depending on your perspective that could be seen as good or bad. I like to see it as a good thing, and I want to use the talent that we currently have to catapult this team to the future. The players on this team mean a lot not only to you but to me as well.

Memory Lane

I will never forget the instinct Javy Baez played with throughout those playoffs. I will never forget how all the pieces fell into place and the plan worked. It actually worked. Theo came in October of 2011, said he needs to gut the farm system and rebuild this team from the ground up. He came in, he did what he said he would do, and accomplished it.

So when the 2021 season rolls around, and you see these guys in a Cubs uniform, all I can say is enjoy it, remember how these players made you feel and the happiness they brought. The goal of trading these guys is to bring in more talent to accomplish the same goal as before.

Yu Will Thank Jed Later

Yes, I know you are sick of the “Yu” puns well. I can’t help it. If you were blindsided by this trade then I do not know how to help Yu (ok I am done). In a few seasons when the incredible Dodgers, Padres, and Braves maybe are taking a step back, the Cubs will have much better talent in the farm system to bring in to compete for another championship. You can call this run by the Cubs over this past decade a success or a failure. That is your decision. Zach Davies was the only major league-ready player coming back in the deal.

You can be mad at the lack of “talent” the Cubs got for Darvish, but remember. Darvish is a 35-year-old, injury-prone pitcher who before this season had only a few solid stretches for the Cubs. No one knows what you are going to get out of the super young talent. B if one of those guys develops and plays a nice role for us in the future then this trade is a success.

The Cubs need to shed salary and start getting ready for the future. Especially since there is no timetable set for when fans are going to be allowed back into the stadium. Let’s get the struggling over with so we can dominate later on. Today is a rough day for Cubs fans. It is the end of an era, and what a fun era it was.

Tough Times Ahead After Yu Darvish Trade

It is hard to accept, but it is ok. The Cubs are one of the top franchises in all of major league baseball. They’re also one of the few franchises with a top fanbase that will support the team through thick and thin. Wrigley is a special place to many Cubs fans who have made life-lasting memories there. Do not worry, there will be more memories to be made by a Cubs team that will excite just like in 2015.

Remember, when a team struggles they can acquire more talented players through the draft. I don’t know what’s going to happen. The only thing I want to see is how the Cubs can develop better pitching. If Jed can find the magic and unlock this liability the team has had this whole decade, then the future of the team is in great hands and we will be looking forward to hoisting more pennants in the future.

Tough times may lie ahead, but so do better times. So embrace the pain, embrace the future. We will reach the mountain top again.

Barry Bonds is the G.O.A.T. and That’s the End of That

A lot goes into the “greatest at an individual sport” discussions. And in a lot of arguments people will only look to use certain “numbers” or “accolades” to help justify their case. Well, here at Clocker Sports and especially this devoted baseball fanatic. I like to take everything into consideration and when we are talking about the legends of the game, regardless of sport people do not talk enough about the stories.

The moments where these unique athletes shift the whole making of the game to where it is truly different for them. Michael Jordan and his unique competitiveness is an example. The stories of him shooting 18 holes and betting his buddy that day that he will drop 40 on the Cavaliers are the things of actual Legends. Barry Bonds is no different. But if you need to be reminded of his greatness let’s take a look at his accolades first.

The G.O.A.T.’s Name is Barry Bonds

The Accolades

Bonds is a 14 time all star, 12 time silver slugger, Two time batting champion, Seven time MVP (most of all time) and especially in today’s game where scouts and evaluators only seem to care about being able to produce offensively. Bonds is an 8 time Gold Glover. He is the all time home run leader and the only member of the 500/500 club which is home runs and stolen bases respectively. Yes do not worry old school baseball fan, we know what you are going to say next.

“But he did steroids.”

Yes you are right, but guess what? remember when baseball was dying as a sport? and no one seemed to care. Then there was this magical summer in 1998 where it was reborn? yeah they all did steroids and guess what? I do not care. When I pay for a ticket to a game, I want to go see the ball fly out of the park. That is the beauty of baseball. David Wells has come out and suggested that “25-40 Percent” of major leaguers are using them and Jose Canseco claims at least “80 percent” of players were using them.

Also Steroids help with your recovery, they do not help you hit a baseball. Sure, they help you work out longer and stronger due to being able to recover quicker but none the less. The ability to turn on an 99 mile per hour fastball is still all Bonds and his natural skill which before he had taken steroids was already on par with the hall of fame.

Another benefit of steroids is that as a spectator you will get the most optimal Barry Bonds or whatever player you were watching possible. Yes the hard earned money you work for and complain about how little it is. You will now get to see the best performance possible. Which is what we all want. Now let us dive into the numbers.

The Statistics

Barry Bonds’s numbers are just plain and simply gaudy. He has the most home runs at 763. He is 6th all-time in runs batted in. He’s third in all-time OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging) and for you sabermetrics people he is number one in WAR rating for position players. Bonds’ OBP is sixth all-time and the five players above him all played before 1960. Which we all know the competition was weaker back then. In an era that was clouded by steroid use. Bonds shined statistically. He set the all-time single-season record in 2001 with 73 bombs and leaving everyone in shock.

If you have been paying attention to baseball recently you will know that on base percentage is all of the rage. Well in the last decade there are only three players to reach base more than 45 percent of the time. Barry Bonds accomplished that feat nine times. He also had a year where he reached base over 60 percent of the time (.609 in 2004) he also eclipsed the 50 percent mark 4 times.

he man just got on base and that was mostly due to being walked because pitchers did not want to even deal with him at the plate. I am going to explain more about that in the next part of this article. None the less Barry Bonds put up the numbers to defend his rightful place as the greatest of all time.

The Stories that are told

Last, but not least the stories. Now this is the portion I believe puts you over the top. Like Jordan in basketball, Bonds has some stories that would make you scratch your head. There was a game in 1998 where the Arizona Diamondbacks were playing the San Fransisco Giants, and Bonds came up to the plate with the bases loaded and the Diamondbacks thought it was a better idea to give up one run instead of 2 or more, and intentionally walked Bonds with the bases loaded. Now the Diamondbacks were correct. They won the game 8-7 after forcing the man behind Bonds to hit.

Another instance happened in 2004 against Eric Gagne (Another well known steroid user) faced off against Bonds with 3-0 leading. Rewind a little bit back in time where Gagne and Bonds had a gentleman’s agreement about facing each other. Bonds complained that no one wanted to face him and he was not wrong. Gagne gave his stipulations and said he would face Bonds if the correct situation ever arose. Well in 2004 it did. Gagne Blew Two heaters over 100 miles per hour and Bonds took them like. Down 0-2, Bonds holds off on an off speed pitch that could not have missed the zone by more than a centimeter.

Bonds now knew what was coming. Bonds was then early on 101 mile per hour fastball on the inside zone and yanked it foul into McCovey Cove. Gagne then comes back with the fastball and Bonds squares it up for another signature majestic Barry Bonds bomb. Bonds was one of the most cerebral minds in the game. He knew how to put the pitchers in compromising positions in which they would have to pitch him and he made them pay.

A G.O.A.T. Named Bonds

During his career Bonds was one of the most feared hitters in the game. Like I mentioned above, Bonds was walked with the base loaded by choice. Even though he never won a title, I really do not hold that against him because baseball is all about timing and if you are up to the moments when duty calls upon you. Do not make no mistake about it. Bonds put on a show in the 2002 post season where he hit Eight Home Runs and and half of them came in the World Series.

He may appear tainted but Bonds was the best among those in his era (who were also on steroids) which gives him his rightful spot in the greatest of all time debate.

 

Around the Clockers: Five Deadly Venoms

The guys of Clocker Sports return with another roundtable discussion and this time they’re joined by special guest, Shiquille (@blacktopgrizz). They recap what’s happened so far in the ECF and WCF, talk about the Bulls and Bears, what they expect out of the Cubs and Sox in the postseason, and much more!

⚓️: https://tinyurl.com/y2kgromp

Around the Clock: So Chicago

For the first-ever Clocker Sports roundtable, the guys keep it local and talk the state of the four major sports in Chicago. From the Cubs and Sox hot start, the Bulls and Bears at crossroads, and the Blackhawks making one last push. Be sure to join us every Thursday @ 9p CST to be a part of the show!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Chicago Cubs Hot Start

Baseball is back and back with a vengeance. We already have our first canceled games for the week due to COVID and the Miami Marlins. But they are not the concern of this article. I want to break down these first five games and usually, I would be bombarded with “iT iS OnLy FivE GaMEs in”. Well, SpongeBob meme, that is nearly 10 percent of our season this time around. The Chicago Cubs are off to a 4-1 start and atop the NL Central. Although 4-1 is a great start, there is always something to improve on and with this Cubs team, there certainly is.

Good, Bad, Ugly: The Cubs Hot Start

The Good:

The bats are “woke”; as the children like to say. Even though they are only hitting .250 as a team, good for third in the National League, the ball still jumps off of the bat. They are first in the NL with 10 home runs as a team. Chicago’s 31 runs scored is also good for first among NL opponents.

Another good thing about this Cubs team is the starting pitching. National League Player of the Week Kyle Hendricks takes the bump Wednesday against the Reds after going the distance against the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener. In 29 innings of work, the starting rotation has given up six runs. Half of those were by Yu Darvish who will be in the latter portion of this reading.

Right now, the Cubs offense is just putting up runs. If you can’t hang with six runs a game then you will not be beating them on a consistent basis.

Free-agent acquisitions Jason Kipnis and Steven Souza Jr have stepped into their roles nicely and have been playing well above expectations so far. Kipnis is hitting .375 and has brought a nice presence to the plate with that left-handed swing. Souza has gotten limited playing time but hit a very nice double down the line the other night to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in Cincinnati.

The Bad:

There really isn’t a lot of holes to poke in a 4-1 start but there is always something extra you would like to see happening. For the Cubs, that is Kris Bryant who has been placed in the leadoff spot and has a measly slash line of .059/.158/.059; not good by any means. The bright spot for Bryant in this spot is the number of pitches he sees in each at-bat. He really sets the table for Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, and Willson Contreras to drive in the runs.

Darvish is supposed to be one of our go-to starters. Unfortunately for Darvish, his style of pitching does not cater to efficiency. His stuff is downright filthy but very erratic and he could only get through four innings in his debut and gave up three earned runs. This is the Cubs only loss of the season so far and it comes from one their least likely suspects.

Usually, throughout a 162-game season, I would be patient with these slow starts. But October is right around the corner and the Cubs need these two in prime form if they want a chance to win another title because this is the Cubs “Last Dance”.

The Ugly:

Let’s be frank, we all know what this section is all about. The bullpen is a joke. Craig Kimbrel nearly blew the save the other night and put his teammate Jeremy Jeffress in quite the predicament. Thankfully, Jeffress shut the door. A former Brewer, Jeffress is coming off of his worst season ever in Milwaukee and is looking to bounce back. Being put in a bases-loaded situation with only one out and nursing a one-run lead is not a recipe for success.

The bullpen has pitched 16 innings (out of 45) and given up 15 runs; all earned. Kimbrel looks like a shell of his former self and can’t locate a pitch. He looked flustered on the mound and had no answers to get himself out of that situation. The Cubs have a lot of work to do for a 4-1 team. This ugly portion will rear its ugly head in October because the Cubs will not be averaging six runs a game all season.

The Cubs First Five Games

There is “a lot” of baseball to be played and I am beyond excited. I will touch back with you guys in between the 15 to 20-game mark to see where this team is and if their October chances improve or not. When I say chances in October, I am talking about how the team could do in the postseason in terms of winning a title, not just making it to the postseason.

Life on the Lines: MLB 7/24/20

We are finally here! One quarantine, and a lifetime later we have arrived at the official opening day of the MLB season. If you are new around here, we like to make money. We have a couple of writers that love to live their life on the lines. Yes, we gamble responsibly around here so if you are not in a good position to do this please refrain. But if you want to make some extra cash this season. This is a prime opportunity for you to join me in that process. We will be tracking my bets throughout the season and we will see how much I make you.

Listed below will be my picks for the day. If you are interested in some long term plays. I advise you to check out Tony Guzman’s article on his MLB Preview. If you are new to sports betting, I will be using the term units a lot. A unit is a measurement of money in which one gambles (increments of $10 or $100 dollars).
So let’s pretend we have a $100 bankroll (yes I know that is small) and let’s see how much we can make you this year.

Life on the Lines

Atlanta Braves @ New York Mets

First game of the day is the Braves visiting the Mets. On the mound, we have Mike Soroka vs Jacob deGrom. Degrom is the reigning two-time CY Young Winner, and Soroka will be the youngest Brave to start and opening day. In these types of matchups, I try to avoid the run line. Which in this game is has the Mets at -1.5, But i am not going to throw an obnoxious set of numbers you to convince you. The play here is the Under 8 line. It is going to be an absolute pitchers duel in the Flushings. Soroka led the league in road ERA last season at 1.55 so all signs point to it being a 3-2 kind of game.

Take the under 8 total runs at -120
(Bet 12 dollars to win 10 dollars)

Detroit Tigers @ Cincinnati Reds

In the second matchup, we have the Detroit Tigers visiting the newly revamped Cincinnati Reds. Lefty Matthew Boyd enters into a hitters paradise in Cinci. Not only that he is running into one of the best lineups in the league. The Reds have added Nicholas Castellanos who mashed left-handed pitching last season. If you look at Castellanos stats from Detroit they do not impress many people. Once you add him to Wrigley, however, his average jumps nearly 50 points. The Reds have done a lot of reforming this offseason while the Tigers have only added Jonathan Schoop and drafted Spencer Torkelson. The play here is to take the Reds at -1.5 (+105). Cincinnati is going to want to make a statement and on opening day they get the perfect opportunity to do so.

Reds -1.5 (+105)
(Bet 10 to make 10.50)

Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays

This next pick may seem a little about hype instead of numbers. Although I do love the numbers sometimes you just have a gut instinct about a team. Well, the Toronto Blue Jays are that team for me. Yes, the Tampa Bay Rays are a legitimate playoff team with a better line up and maybe better overall pitching staff. But if it is for one game? I am going to take the Blue Jays. I love this young core. Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio are all legitimate threats to explode onto the scene this year. I expect them to show out on opening day especially with their big free-agent acquisition on the hill, Hyun-Jin Riu. I am taking the Blue Jays Money Line on this pick.

Blue Jays ML +118
(Bet 10$ to win 11.80$)

Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs

Next, we head to beautiful Wrigley Field. Where the Cubs play host to the Brewers. Both teams in the offseason were pretty stagnant in terms of adding talent to each club. The Brewers lost Moustakas (to the Reds) but get their MVP back from a gruesome knee injury. In his debut against the potent White Sox. Kyle Hendricks was in prime form and tossed four shutout innings before being taken out for rest reasons. I expect nothing less from him in his opening day debut. I like the Cubs here at -1.5. Especially at a great value of +170. The ball will be flying and it will be for the boys in Cubbie blue.

Cubs -1.5 (+170)
(10$ to make 17$)

Minnesota Twins @ Chicago White Sox

And for the final pick, we are traveling to the Southside of Chicago. Where the White Sox play host to the Minnesota Twins. I am expecting a fireworks show and have the Twins beating the rising Sox by more than three runs, but be on the lookout for this White Sox team in the future. They will have the matchup advantage in a lot of games because play in the woeful central division. They will get chances against the Tigers and Royals throughout the season. But on this opening day. The team that smacked 307 Homers last season is the Twins at -1.5 (+140).

Twins -1.5 (+140)
(10$ to make 14$)

Life on the Lines

Those are my five picks and these are odds are according to Bovada. If you do not have a Bovada account. Click the link below and get an introductory match of up to 250 dollars on your initial deposit. Let me know how your picks go.

Make sure you follow me on Twitter @illiniryan7 and go follow me on Instagram @illiniryan_7 for exclusive giveaways.
Hope this helps you make some money this season. Use the link below for Bovada:
https://www.bovada.lv/welcome/P48DCC04/join?extcmpid=rafcopy

Best of luck!

2020 MLB Season Betting Preview

Baseball is back! Not the way everyone expected but it’s back nonetheless. A 60-game sprint to the playoffs in the Major League Baseball season is anything but ordinary and offers some intriguing opportunities from the betting perspective. Of course, there’s the chalk World Series matchup that MLB is hoping for in the New York Yankees vs Los Angeles Dodgers; with both teams being the favorite to win their respective leagues. There is just no value in betting those two teams.

Plus, that’s just boring no one likes betting the favorites right? It also makes sense that the two best teams would have favorites in individual awards such as Gerrit Cole at the top to win the AL Cy Young Award and Mookie Betts to win the NL MVP award. If there was ever a season to bet against the favorites who added new powerhouses to their rosters, this is it.

Betting Preview: 2020 MLB Season

Over/Under Best Bet The Chicago Cubs O/U 32.5 -108

The Chicago Cubs are going to be in a dog fight in the NL Central as there are three other teams vying for the top spot with the Milwaukee Brewers, rival St. Louis Cardinals, and emerging Cincinnati Reds. There are so many question marks going into this season for the Northsiders beginning with their starting pitching.

Kyle Hendricks was just handed the opening day starter duties by newly appointed manager David Ross who is entering his first season managing the team. He is the only bright spot in the rotation. Yu Darvish who has electric stuff has been as inconsistent as it gets in his Cubs tenure. Jose Quintana lacerated his thumb doing the dishes. Jon Lester who is on the back end of his career and Tyler Chatwood who wouldn’t be a starter on any other ball club.

They haven’t fixed their bullpen issues which have always been an issue in the Theo Epstein era and the glue who holds everything together, Anthony Rizzo has a lingering back issue. FiveThirtyEight came out with their predictions on this upcoming season and have the Cubs right at 32. How accurate is FiveThirtyEight? Last year they had them pegged for 84 wins. How many wins did the Cubs have in 2019? 84.

Bet- Under 32.5 wins at -108

American League Cy Young Award Winner Best Bet Shohei Ohtani 50-1

Shohei Ohtani wasn’t slated to start pitching until May since he is coming off of Tommy John surgery. Now that its late July he’s ready to be the two-way player the Angels had hoped for since signing him back in 2018.

Ohtani is an intriguing pick as he hasn’t pitched in the majors in over two years so there isn’t a lot of film on him which puts him at an advantage to opposing hitters. With the odds at 50-1 according to BetRivers.com, it’s just too hard to pass up as this future screams value.

Bet- Shohei Ohtani AL Cy Young Award Winner 50-1

National League Cy Young Award Winner Stephen Strasburg 12-1

The last time we saw Stephen Strasburg he was dominating the Houston Asterisks in Game 6 of the 2019 World Series. Shockingly enough Strasburg does not have a Cy Young award on his mantle. Last season, Strasburg lead the National League in wins (18) and was second in strikeouts (251) to the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom.

Unlike deGrom, he won a World Series and was the World Series MVP. Strasburg has had at least 10 strikeouts per nine innings in each of his last six seasons; a model of consistency. With the Nationals contending for back to back rings in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, if Strasburg is his dominant self this could be the year he earns that Cy Young Award.

Bet- Stephen Strasburg NL Cy Young Award Winner 12-1

National League MVP Award Winner Juan Soto 10-1

At this point, you’re starting to sense a theme here as to where this article is going in the National League. Juan Soto is just so far beyond his years as disciplined at the plate as the fire that exudes through his body. With Anthony Rendon signing a big free-agent deal with the Los Angeles Angels, there is no doubt that this is Soto’s team now from an offensive perspective. With an on-base percentage over .400 last year, not only does he hit bombs but is patient at the plate as he takes his walks. Soto is primed for a monster year, even if it’s only 60 games.

Bet- Juan Soto NL MVP Award Winner 10-1

American League MVP Award Winner Bo Bichette 100-1

The Toronto Blue Jays are in the news because they can’t find a ballpark to call home for this 60 game season since the Canadian government did not approve the use of the Rogers Centre in Toronto. There have been talks about maybe PNC Park as a temporary home for them this season which would benefit their young hitters greatly. But, no one is talking about this young core!

It’s mind-boggling that Vladimir Gurrerro Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette aren’t getting the respect they deserve. Vlad Jr. is at 50-1 to win the MVP which is insane value for the caliber of player he is. BetRivers.com doesn’t even have Biggio listed as an option (which is a shame) and Bo Bichette at 100-1! Bichette played in only 46 games last year and had a slash line of .311/.358/.571 with an OPS of .930 and 18 extra-base hits. It’s a long shot but you can’t help but take a stab at it.

Bet- Bo Bichette AL MVP Award Winner 100-1

World Series Champion Washington Nationals 19-1

That’s right, the Washington Nationals. When was the last time a National League team won back to back World Series? Not since the Big Red Machine, the Cincinnati Reds, in 1975-1976. In fact, there hasn’t been a back to back World Series winner since the Yankees won three in a row from ’98-’00. The Nats have the firepower in their starting pitching and the experience now that they have been to a World Series just last season. Juan Soto is a potential MVP who is just easy to root for when you watch him play as a natural leader who wears his heart on his sleeve. This is already an odd season and it hasn’t even started yet. So, prepare for unexpected outcomes.

Bet- Washington Nationals World Series Champions 19-1

*All odds according to il.betrivers.com

MLB Draft: Sox Take College Pitcher, Cubs Take Local High-Schooler

With no games being played, and the 2020 baseball season in doubt, Major League Baseball took a pause from contentious negotiations with its players to look to the future, as the 2020 MLB Draft took center stage in an otherwise empty sports landscape on Wednesday night.

Both Chicago baseball teams looked to infuse new talent into their organizations during the first round of the MLB Draft, hoping that the players chosen could make an impact on their respective big clubs in the not so distant future.

White Sox Take LHP Crochet, Cubs Take SS Howard With Top Picks

The White Sox, with the 11th overall pick, selected University of Tennessee left-handed pitcher, Garrett Crochet, adding talent and depth to the organization’s already strong pitching ranks.

Five picks later, at number 16, the Cubs created the buzz of the evening in Chicagoland by choosing shortstop Ed Howard, the local kid made good out of Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago.

“I’m excited to be a hometown guy, I think it’s special, it’s unique,” said Howard during his introductory conference call with Cubs beat reporters. “I’m ready to take on that challenge, have fun, and play my game” Howard continued.

Cubs Pick of Ed Howard Brings a Jolt of Excitement to the Northside Fan Base

The pick of Howard is sure to generate excitement with Cubs fans, who have been looking for some positivity after back-to-back disappointing seasons on the field and off.

The Cubs blew a late division lead in 2018 and wound up losing to the Colorado Rockies at home during the National League Wild Card game. 2019 saw the Cubs miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014, ending a five-year post-season run.

Off the field, the Cubs have had their issues as well. Most notably with the Kris Bryant years of service grievance, and the rollout of the Cubs new team-owned regional sports network, The Marquee Network. The network was roundly booed during the Cubs Convention in January when team owner Tom Ricketts mentioned it by name. Many fans were unsure if their television providers would even carry the fledgling network, or if they did, how much extra would it cost. More recently, Ricketts has come under fire for comments stating 70% of team revenue is derived from day-of-game receipts, a figure many are questioning.

The selection of Howard, however, gives the Cubs a chance to ride some positive buzz about their team, at least in the near future.

Howard grew up in Chicago, and was a member of the Jackie Robinson West Little League team that captured the hearts of Chicagoans and the nation when they won the 2014 Little League World Series. Their title was eventually revoked due to roster eligibility issues, but the team still remained popular locally.

He went on to play baseball at Mt. Carmel High School, where he starred as the team’s shortstop. Even without playing a single game for the Caravan during the 2020 season, Howard was viewed by scouts and draft experts as one of the top shortstop prospects in the country. His selection with the 16th pick confirms that.

Howard was also a product of the Chicago White Sox Amateur City Elite program, or ACE, an arm of White Sox charities that provides inner-city kids with opportunities for education and to develop in the game of baseball, providing avenues for advancement to college or professional baseball. Another goal of ACE is to reverse the decline of African-American players in baseball, something that was probably not lost on Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who recently stated he needs to build more diversity in the Cubs organization overall.

Ultimately, however, Howard’s talent and potential as a baseball player is the reason the team made him their first-round pick. Cubs new Vice President of Scouting, Dan Kantrovitz, told reporters that Howard being available “was literally our best-case scenario.” Kantrovitz added: “He’s got an electric skill set. He’s a plus shortstop. He’s got pop in his bat. He can run. He can impact the game in so many ways. We think he has a chance to be a star.”

The Cubs stated that Howard would remain at shortstop in the organization. Most experts believe 2023 would be the soonest Howard might make his Major League debut. However, the timeline for all prospects could be delayed due to the absence of minor league baseball in 2020.

White Sox Bypass One of Their ACE Program Graduates in Howard, Draft University of Tennessee LHP Garret Crochet

With Howard, a Southsider, available when the White Sox pick came around at number 11, many people were wondering if the team would select one of their home-grown talents from their ACE program. However, when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred stepped up to present the team’s pick, the name of a large college left-handed pitcher was announced instead.

Crochet comes to the White Sox as one of the top left-handed college pitchers in the draft. He struck out 149 batters and walked 48 over 132 innings pitched during his three years at Tennessee. He is known for a plus fastball that can reach triple digits, as well as a good slider and change-up. Control has been an issue for the lefty, who only pitched one game for the Vols in 2020 while dealing with shoulder soreness.

“I told Garrett … it’s an outstanding piece of your life to be compared to Chris Sale” Shirley told reporters. “But please proceed as being Garrett Crochet” he said. – White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting, Mike Shirley

Crochet has been receiving many comparisons to another tall left-handed hurler, former White Sox starter Chris Sale. And while he acknowledged to reporters during his post-selection conference call that some parts of his game were modeled after Sale, he doesn’t want people to just assume the same outcome. “I feel like it’s kind of tough to make on me(the Sale comparison), as I have not achieved anything as close as Chris Sale has achieved” Crochet told reporters.