Multisport column, with items on the Bulls, Bears, Cubs and more.
The applause for the Bulls’ Ben Wallace-Joe Smith trade seems surprisingly muted.
No, this doesn’t vault Chicago into NBA title contention, but Chicago added two decent role players for almost nothing.
People seem happy to be rid of the grumpy, ineffective Wallace — and the last 2 1/2 years of his four-year, $60 million contract. But this isn’t just subtraction. There’s addition, too.
Larry Hughes made the NBA’s first-team all-defense team three years ago. He shoots poorly, but if he shoots less, he could be a real asset. And forward Drew Gooden (11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds) can be like regaining Tyson Chandler.
And all they cost were two aging forwards who were signed as free agents. GM John Paxson gave up nothing to get Wallace and Smith, then turned them into a pair of veteran building blocks for an otherwise young team. That’s a great move.
Sox detractors now supporters
Remember Baseball Prospectus? They were the ones who correctly predicted the White Sox would suffer the biggest decline in the American League in 2006. And then correctly predicted the Sox to finish 72-90 last year.
Well, they wrote early this week: “This improved roster remains one top-tier starting pitcher shy of hanging with the top two teams in the division.”
Angelo making little sense
GM Jerry Angleo told chicagobears.com that Cedric Benson will have to fight to remain Chicago’s starting running back.
“We’re going to look to create competition at that position just like we would at any position,” he said.
This comes after he traded Thomas Jones last year to eliminate competition and has gifted the quarterback job to Rex Grossman four years in a row.
Angelo also said: “Last year we were the best we’ve ever been with our three quarterbacks since I’ve been here.”
The Bears finished 27th in passer rating. The only five teams with a worse passer rating than Chicago finished a combined 20-60. Angelo’s low, low QB standards continue to hold the Bears back.
Cubs make all the right moves
The Cubs haven’t reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in 100 years. But they also haven’t acted this smart in 10 decades.
From making three relievers battle for the closer’s spot — instead of the Jerry Angelo/Lovie Smith method of just handing it to the worst choice — to signing Kosuke Fukudome, to going with rookie catcher Geovany Soto to considering Felix Pie, Sam Fuld and Tyler Colvin in center, the Cubs are making all the right choices. Including, so far, holding off on trading for Brian Roberts.
Why add Roberts to play second when that would bump Mark DeRosa (.293, 10 HR, 72 RBI) out of the starting lineup?
Baseball help available
The biggest small-market baseball mistake every year is passing on cheap veterans. (The Twins let David Ortiz go because they didn’t want to pay Big Papi $2 million).
Last year, Tampa grabbed Carlos Pena (46 HRs, 121 RBI) and Washington took Dmitri Young (.320). The Reds grabbed Josh Fogg this week, but an unusually large selection of cheap veteran gambles remains: Shannon Stewart, Kenny Lofton, Corey Patterson, Shawn Green, Trot Nixon, Bartolo Colon, Kyle Lohse, Eric Milton, Freddy Garcia, Mike Piazza, Jose Mesa, etc. Not to mention Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.
Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.