The Chicago Bulls lost their opener to a pretty good Oklahoma City team, then beat the Pistons with a strong 4th quarter, and played really well against the Trailblazers. This without Carlos Boozer, who has apparently gotten his cast off and his return is at least within sighting distance.
There's talk again about a deal for Carmelo Anthony. The names being bandied about are Luol Deng (who dropped 40 on the T-Blazers) and Taj Gibson (a valuable bench front court player who has been a starter with Boozer on the shelf). I'm assuming a draft pick, or picks, would be part of the deal. I've also heard James Johnson's name mentioned.
There are guys out there, unsigned as yet, who might be able to come in and play for this team if the Bulls move too many guys (read: 3 instead of 2). But Johnson's been looking better this year, and Gibson is the sort of blue collar player that winning teams need. (Hinrich was this sort, too, in my opinion...) It would thin the Bulls' bench and rotation a lot to make this deal, but I'd still do it. The NBA is a superstar-driven league, and Anthony is pretty close to a superstar. In my eyes, he is one, but I've read others' opinions that he is NOT in that upper tier. (I have him in my top 10, in the second tier of 5 players somewhere after Bryant, James, Wade, Howard and Durant.) A starting five of Rose, Brewer/Bogans, Anthony, Boozer and Noah is as good as any in the league, including Miami, because of the types of players that are in that five, in my opinion.
The Cubs part ways with Ryno, as he has declined to return as manager of triple A Iowa. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the discussion has hinged on whether Lance Berkman would be a good target for the team as a place-holder first baseman. I'm okay with that as long as the contract isn't for more than 2 years and isn't much more than 10 million total. Next year Fukudome and maybe Ramirez come off the books, along with Carlos Silva (whose contract matched Milton Bradley's contract in length) and probably one or two others.
Unfortunately, Alfonso Soriano will be around for four more years at a cost of about 72 million. Think they're going to be able to move him with that contract hanging from around his neck? I seriously doubt it, even to an AL team needing a DH. I heard it suggested on sports radio that they have him take grounders at first, to see if he can manage the position. I don't know if he'd be able to. I've seen others suggest that he might get a line drive in the face because he seems to lack focus during games in the field, and that he'd be a total butcher in the field. To that I reply that this guy was a middle infielder for most of his career, and though he wasn't a good one, he just MIGHT be able to handle the easier position of first base with less problems than he handled 2nd and short. Also, it opens left field for one of two actual Cubs' prospects: Brett Jackson and Brandon Guyer.
I'm not saying hand the guy the position right away, but if it were me, I'd give him some innings there next spring. I'd tell him to make sure he works out at first this winter. If he could be adequate there for a year or even two, it would sure help. First, they wouldn't have to spend any money to acquire a first baseman through free agency, since there are none coming up through the system who would be ready in 2011, and second, they can find out what they have in those two young outfielders. Puts them that much ahead for 2012, when they might be able to actually sign some bigger names. Plus, if Soriano can actually handle 1st base, wouldn't that make him a more attractive trade target for another team, be it NL or AL?