The All Day SJ Show (S1, EP1)


Season 1 – Episode 1

Guest: Mark Schanowski

On the debut episode of “The All Day SJ Show,” NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls Pre & Postgame Host, Mark Schanowski, talks the Bulls current rebuild & goals for 2018 free agency and the NBA Draft. Schanowski also touches on the Nikola Mirotic & Bobby Portis situation and whether or not it is the right time to trade Robin Lopez.

Sustained Success

A Cubs 2017 Season Review

By Steven Johnson

  • 2017: Another season, another postseason berth for the Chicago Cubs.
  • 2017: Another season, another NL Central Division title for the Chicago Cubs.
  • 2017: Another season, another 90+ win season for the Chicago Cubs.

It is “sustained success,” indeed.

When Theo Epstein came aboard as the Cubs President of Baseball Operations, building for “sustained success” is what he preached when asking Cubs fans to be patient with the upcoming rebuild.

Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have all delivered, whether that has been in terms of on-field product, the farm system or positioning the Cubs to not just “win now” but also on a yearly basis.

After three rebuilding seasons (2012-14), the sustained success model was initiated. The Cubs hired Joe Maddon in 2014, won 97 games in 2015 and finished 3rd in the NL Central.

After winning the NL Wild Card Game vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series and advanced to the National League Championship Series. The Cinderella season ended in a 4-0 sweep to the New York Mets.

In 2016, the Cubs went on a tear throughout the entire MLB. Their 103-58 record was the best in all of baseball.

They won the NL Central Division title for the first time since 2008. They made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2008 (2007-08). They also got back to the NLCS… and won it.

The Cubs advanced to the World Series for the first time since 1945. After an intense 7-game series with the Cleveland Indians, the Cubs were once again World Series Champions. It was their first World Series Championship in 108 years and the last great story in sports was finally told.

Entering the 2017 season, the Cubs had accomplished everything they set out to do beginning in 2012. An NL Wild Card berth, Two Division titles, a National League Pennant, a World Series Championship… all were now in the possession of the Cubs over a five-year period.

While the rebuild was now an undisputed success, the goal now simply was to do it again.

The Cubs struggled the first half of the season. Entering the All-Star Break, they posted a disappointing 43-45 record. The struggles were so alarming that the team considered entering the trade deadline as sellers.

However, instead of taking that route, Epstein and Co. decided the defending World Series Champions should take another shot at it.

Jose Quintana

In an unexpected move, the Cubs traded for White Sox Ace: Jose Quintana. The deal was unprecedented at the time considering the Cubs and White Sox were thought to never do business together of this magnitude. The Cubs sent back four prospects in the deal, including five-tool prospect Eloy Jimenez.

After deciding to stay the course, the Cubs caught fire during the second half of the season. They returned from the All-Star Break to win six games in a row. They finished the month of July with a 16-8 record. Most importantly, they only lost three games during that stretch entering August.

After going 17-12 in August and 19-10 in September/October, the Cubs wrapped up their second consecutive NL Central Division title. They were now primed for an NLDS match-up with former Manager Dusty Baker and the Washington Nationals.

Even with the early season slump, the Cubs still had enough to finish as one of the best teams in baseball.

The World Series hangover was real, but the team did not let that deter them. Instead, they rallied around each other and charged back to win a division title.

Again, “sustained success” was the model. Even though there were times where the team struggled, they had enough youth, energy, familiarity and experience to rebound and still compete.

Their talent level was also head and shoulders above any team in the division and the first half struggles should be considered an aberration.

Now, the season starts over at 0-0. Can the Cubs repeat the magic once again?

Before the Cubs begin the postseason, it is time to review the 2017 regular season. A lot of success happened on the field as well as several players standing out for the defending World Series Champions.

2017 Most Valuable Player: Kris Bryant

MLB: OCT 04 Cubs at Brewers

You could have easily gone with Anthony Rizzo or Javy Baez or even Wade Davis here. However, the numbers do not lie and when it came to all-around game; there was one choice for this distinction.

Kris Bryant is one of the best players in baseball. The 2016 National League MVP had another “MVP-like” season in 2017.

Bryant hit .295 with 162 Hits, 29 Home Runs, 73 RBI, 95 Walks and .946 OPS. He also led the team in Batting Average (minimum 400 at-bats), On-Base %, Hits, Total Bases, Doubles (38), OPS and Runs scored (141).

Bryant is a generational talent. Possessing all the tools to be a Hall of Famer, he is versatile enough to be great wherever the team needs or puts him. A third baseman by trade, Bryant is capable of also playing first base as well as both corner outfield positions.

He is a mark of consistency and will be the central piece if the Cubs are to repeat as World Series Champions. Bryant, at only 25-years-old, has already had the career most Major League players dream about.

Bryant is only going to get better, which is a scary thought for the future of the league.

2017 Most Improved Player: Jason Heyward

Jason Heyward

After a tough campaign in 2016, Heyward actually bounced back in most offensive statistical categories this season. In fact, the numbers would not pass the eye test at first glance:

Heyward’s 2017 Season

In 126 Games, Heyward hit .259 with 59 Runs, 112 Hits, 15 Doubles, 4 Triples, 11 Home Runs, 59 RBI, 41 Walks and .715 OPS this season.

Heyward’s 2016 Season

In 142 Games, Heyward hit .230 with 61 Runs, 122 Hits, 27 Doubles, 1 Triple, 7 Home Runs, 49 RBI, 54 Walks and .631 OPS.

While Heyward actually did not match certain totals from his 2016 season, he also played in 16 fewer games. Even though he played in fewer games, he increased his Batting Average by 29 points, hit 4 more Home Runs, hit 3 more Triples, drove in 10 more RBI and increased his OPS by 84 points.

Heyward’s most valuable asset is his defensive ability in right field; however, he proved that he is capable strong showings at the plate. Coupled with his defensive ability, Heyward has the ability to be a game changer if he can find consistency as a hitter.

Hopefully, Heyward can stay healthy and continue to improve and perform each season. He will be a critical component to another deep Cubs playoff run.

Pitcher of the Year: Wade Davis

Wade Davis

This was an easy one. Davis, whom the Cubs acquired in a trade for Jorge Soler, was lights out for the team this season.

In 59 Games, the All-Star closer threw 58.2 Innings, allowed 39 Hits, finished with a 4-2 Record and recorded 32 Saves in 33 Save Opportunities. Davis totaled an ERA of 2.30 to go along with 79 Strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP.

In addition to the sparkling numbers, Davis was selected as the lone Cubs representative for the 2017 All-Star Game. Perhaps the most impressive achievement of his 2017 season: Davis set the Cubs franchise record with his 27th consecutive save on August 29th.

Davis will be critical to another long playoff run for the Cubs. With the way Maddon used closer Aroldis Chapman last season in the playoffs, do not be surprised to see Davis on the mound in the 8th… or even 7th Innings.

It is all hands on deck in the quest to repeat as World Series Champions and Davis is as good as it gets when it comes to holding a lead.

What to Watch For:  How will the Cubs look next season?

While the Cubs gear up for another run at a World Series title, there are several questions that will be answered come the offseason.

Kyle Schwarber

Schwarber is an interesting case study. When it comes to talent as a hitter, Schwarber has it. When it comes to being able to play multiple positions (LF, 1B and yes, Catcher), Schwarber is capable. When it comes to clutch plays, Schwarber comes through.

In his first full season, Schwarber hit .211 with 30 Home Runs, 59 RBI and .782 OPS. The power hitter also struck out 150 times. Adversity followed for the Cubs World Series hero as he was demoted to Triple-A Iowa.

For the first half of the season, Schwarber hit only .178 with 13 Home Runs, 29 RBI, 78 Strikeouts and .694 OPS. However, after the demotion, the pure hitter in Schwarber awakened. He went on to hit .253 with 17 Home Runs, 30 RBI and .894 OPS.

Even though Schwarber has the potential to play multiple positions and is a guaranteed potential 30-35+ Home Runs in your lineup, the general consensus is he is more valuable as a designated hitter.

American League teams know that too, so the Cubs could be enticed to trade the young slugger for a cost-controlled young pitcher or another young piece with star potential. Perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays can interest the Cubs by offering Chris Archer in a deal packaged around or including Schwarber.

Schwarber’s situation is an interesting one to watch during the offseason. Expect the trade rumors and uncertainty around the Cubs slugger to continue.

  • Two spots open in the rotation?

Jake Arrieta

When the Cubs enter the off-season, two of their starting pitchers will be on the market. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey will be unrestricted free agents.

Arrieta, a former NL Cy Young Award winner and All-Star, led the MLB in Wins in 2015. He also has pitched two no-hitters for the Cubs.

Arrieta is also noted for his “big game” ability with the Cubs. “Jake the Snake” notched two of the Cubs wins in the 2016 World Series.

In five seasons with the Cubs, Arrieta is 68-31 (a .687 Win %). He has an ERA of 2.73 over 128 starts with Chicago. Arrieta has thrown 6 complete games and 5 shutouts (including 2 no-hitters), in 803.0 Innings. He also has 793 Strikeouts to his credit along with a 1.03 WHIP.

When Arrieta is on, he is damn-near unhittable. This was showcased over the course of the 2015 season, where Arrieta’s performance was frequently compared to legend Bob Gibson.

Arrieta has been everything the Cubs envisioned when they traded for him and Pedro Strop in 2013. However, with all of his accomplishments and age (31) considered, will Arrieta price himself out of the Cubs range?

Reportedly, Arrieta is seeking a new deal in the $200+ million range. Arrieta’s body of work is certainly worth the price tag.  However; the Cubs, with several assets to trade for a replacement or simply just sign a replacement at a cheaper rate, might not want to throw that much coin at Arrieta who is on the wrong side of 30.

Lackey is a different story. After signing in a two-year deal with the Cubs, Lackey came here and got his jewelry. The soon-to-be 39-year-old pitcher is likely not in the Cubs plans for next season, especially considering in-house candidates like Mike Montgomery are more than capable of filling his role as the 5th starter.

Overall Grade: A

Even though there were some early struggles for the Cubs, they still managed to win 92 games and win the NL Central Division for the second consecutive season.

The Cubs last three seasons are any teams’, organizations’ and fan’s dream. 292 wins over the last three seasons. Three consecutive postseason berths, two Division titles and a Wild Card win. An NL Pennant and World Series Championship are also a part of the trophy case.

Simply put, the Cubs are in a great position not only for now, but also for the future. Most of the Cubs veterans are still young and are only going to get better. There is also that rumor that another one of the best players in baseball can join Bryant, Rizzo and the Cubs in the not so distant future.

Right now, it is the ‘in’ thing to be a Cubs fan and the team, organization and fan base deserves it all.

Follow Me on Twitter: @lAmStevenJohnson

Something Building on the South Side

A 2017 Chicago White Sox Season Review

By Steven Johnson

The 2017 season for the Chicago White Sox was a success in many ways, although it was not reflected in the club’s record or the division standings.

That is exactly what the organization had planned for. Going into the season, the White Sox were officially engaging in a full-scale rebuild. It started with the trade of Chris Sale on December 6, 2016.

Sale, the longtime Ace of the White Sox, was acquired by the Boston Red Sox to anchor a rotation contending for a World Series championship. In return, Chicago acquired four prospects, including Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

Yoan Moncada

Entering the 2016 season, Moncada was ranked as the fifth best prospect in baseball. He was also the recipient of the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2016.

Kopech, one of Boston’s first round draft picks in 2014, had a fastball that topped out at around 98 MPH and was consistently rated amongst the top 40 prospects in baseball.

Michael Kopech

With the face of the franchise now shipped off to Boston, the White Sox were not done dealing. A day later, their spark plug centerfielder, Adam Eaton, was traded. Acquired by the Washington Nationals, Eaton brought back a significant haul for the White Sox. Chicago acquired three pitching prospects: Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.

With two separate deals, the White Sox instantly replenished what was an underwhelming farm system.

With Moncada, they had their stud position player, capable of being one of the best players in baseball for a long time. With Kopech, Giolito, Lopez and Dunning, the White Sox continued to do what they did well, and that was developing pitching for the future.

After the resignation of Manager Robin Ventura, the club hired Rick Renteria.

Renteria, a one-time Manager of the Chicago Cubs, was tasked with developing a young roster while also assuring the club would continue to compete and play hard. #RickysBoysDontQuit served as a rallying cry for the young team throughout the course of the season.

Rick Hahn did a tremendous job of building for the future in such a short time. What was even more impressive is the fact that after the separate deals for Sale and Eaton, Hahn still had valuable trade chips in Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera to work with.

With Hahn’s offseason work done, buyers during the season would call for the players listed and Hahn and the White Sox were ready to cash in.

On May 27, the White Sox signed Luis Robert to a deal. Robert, considered a Cuban phenom, was yet another piece added to an already bright future for the team. Robert, who played for Cuba’s Serie Nacional Ciego de Avila team from 2013-15, hit .401 with 12 HR, 40 RBI, and 1.213 OPS last season.

Luis Robert

With the 11th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, the White Sox selected third baseman Jake Burger from Missouri State. Burger was considered one of the top prospects in the draft.

On July 13, the White Sox made a stunning deal. The team traded Quintana to the crosstown rival Cubs.

While a Quintana deal was inevitable, nobody pegged the Cubs as being the team to acquire him. In fact, a deal of this magnitude was thought to be unimaginable between the local but rival franchises.

The White Sox again made a smart deal, acquiring four prospects from the Cubs including Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease.

Jiménez was considered the top international free agent in 2013. Considered a five-tool player, the outfielder was added as another dynamic piece to the future of the White Sox to be paired with Moncada.

Eloy Jimenez

Cease, a pitcher with a fastball that topped off at 97 MPH, had been recovered from Tommy John Surgery for his UCL. Baseball America rated him as the second best prospect in the Arizona Fall League at the end of 2015.

With their most valuable piece in Quintana now moved, Hahn still had Frazier, Robertson and Cabrera to work with. He also had smaller pieces in Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle and Miguel Gonzalez to work with.

Indeed, on July 18, the White Sox traded Frazier, Robertson and Kahnle to the New York Yankees. The White Sox acquired four players which included veteran Tyler Clippard. The headliners of the deal were three prospects: Blake Rutherford, Ian Clarkin and Tito Polo.

Rutherford was considered one of the top prospects for the 2016 MLB Draft. Clarkin was one of the Yankees first round draft picks in 2013.

Polo, signed as an international free agent in 2012 by the Pirates, was acquired the Yankees in 2016. He also played for the Colombian National Team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Hahn was wheeling and dealing, and in a few short months, the White Sox farm system was the strongest it had been in a long time. In fact, it was now considered the top farm system in all of baseball. Entering the season, it was considered the third best. Hahn’s rebuild of the team already was off to a successful start.

More deals followed, as the White Sox were able to flip Clippard to the Houston Astros for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Gonzalez, the lone constant of the rotation that season, was traded to the Texas Rangers for Ti’Quan Forbes. Forbes was drafted by the Rangers in the second round of the 2014 MLB draft.

While the rebuild was the story for the White Sox for the 2017 season, their on-field product offered glimpses of the future as well. Led by Jose Abreu, pieces on already on the big league roster showed that they had a place in the future of the White Sox.

2017 Season MVP: Jose Abreu

Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox

Abreu, one of the better hitters in baseball, takes home my season MVP award for the team. In 156 Games, the consistent First Baseman hit .304 with 33 HR, 102 RBI and .906 OPS. He also chipped in 189 hits, 95 runs, 43 doubles, 6 triples and 35 walks. In other words, it was just another expected season for the Silver Slugger.

Abreu, who joined the White Sox in 2014, has been a mark of consistency for the organization. In all four of his big league seasons, Abreu has scored 65+ runs, collected 175+ hits, 30+ doubles, 25+ HR, 100+ RBI, 35+ walks, .820+ OPS and a .290+ Batting Average. He has also played at least 145 games in each season.

Abreu is the perfect veteran for the young White Sox. At 30-years-old, if he is still a member of the team, he figures to still be in prime when the White Sox are ready to compete for a World Series. A former AL Rookie of the Year, All-Star and Silver Slugger, Abreu figures to be a hot commodity this upcoming offseason. Stay tuned.

2017 Most Improved Player: Avisail Garcia

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Chicago White Sox

Garcia, whom the White Sox acquired from Detroit in the Jake Peavy deal in 2013, finally showed his potential during the 2017 season. Garcia posted career-highs in Batting Average (.330), Runs (75), Hits (171), Doubles (27), Triples (5), Home Runs (18), RBI (80), OPS (.885) and Total Bases (262).

He also was selected to the AL All-Star Team – the first selection of his career. He was the White Sox’s lone representative.

Garcia is an intriguing case. While he took a huge step forward this season, the White Sox could feel that this is the highest his value will ever be and include him as part of a deal.

At 26-years-old, he is young enough to be considered as a part of the future but one has to wonder if he is guaranteed to be a part of the roster for the 2018 season. The White Sox definitely should considering moving the All-Star if a favorable deal is offered to them.

2017 Pitcher of the Year: Miguel Gonzalez and Michael Kopech


This one was hard to settle on with so many moving parts and deals during the season. At the MLB level, Gonzalez gets the nod here. He was the most consistent starter this season for the rotation with the Quintana deal and failed Holland experiment.

Gonzalez was second on the team in Games Started (22), first in Quality Starts (13), tied for first in Wins (7), second in Innings (133.2) and fourth in Strikeouts (85). He also finished with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.

While not the “name” or the “best” pitcher on the staff, he was the most consistent. He turned in several nice starts for the team and was always ready when his name was called.

Kopech, despite not being on the Major League roster, was stellar in 2017.

In 25 starts in the minors, Kopech finished with a 2.88 ERA, 134.1 IP, 172 Strikeouts, 1.17 WHIP, .193 Opponent BA and a 9-8 record. He was also selected to the Southern League’s end-of-season All-Star team. The future is bright for the MLB’s ninth ranked prospect.

What to Watch For: The Young Bucks

Several players on the White Sox this season took steps towards development.

  • Tim Anderson: 146 Games, 72 Runs, 151 Hits, 26 Doubles, 4 Triples, 17 Home Runs, 56 RBI, 15 Stolen Bases and .679 OPS.
  • In his second MLB season, Anderson struggled during the first half of the season. However, he bounced back to hit .276 during the second half and while increasing his power totals.
  • Plate discipline continues to be an issue, but Anderson should continue to steadily improve.


  • Matt Davidson: 118 Games, 43 Runs, 91 Hits, 16 Doubles, 26 Home Runs, 68 RBI and .711 OPS
  • Davidson is counted on to provide power and he did not disappoint this season, going yard 26 times and nearly driving in 70
  • With Frazier traded away and Moncada slotted in at second, expect Davidson to have at least one more opportunity at third to open next season.


  • Nicky Delmonico: 43 Games, 25 Runs, 37 Hits, 4 Doubles, 9 Home Runs, 23 RBI, 23 Walks and .856 OPS
  • One of the more fun stories of the season, Delmonico worked hard all season and earned a promotion from the Charlotte Knights.
  • He began his MLB career with a seven-game on-base streak and played the majority of his games in left field.


  • Yoan Moncada: 54 Games, 31 Runs, 46 Hits, 8 Doubles, 2 Triples, 8 Home Runs, 22 RBI, 29 Walks and .750 OPS
  • Simply put, this is the guy to build around. He will be one of the best players in baseball and this was only a small sample size.
  • He debuted to much fanfare and rightfully so. Expect to see him here for a long time.


  • Lucas Giolito: 7 Games Started, 3-3 Record, 1 Innings, 2.38 ERA, 34 Strikeouts, 12 Walks, 8 Home Runs Allowed, 0.95 WHIP, .190 Opponent BA, 31 Hits Allowed.
  • Giolito was impressive in seven starts this season for the White Sox.
  • Projected to be in the rotation next season, Giolito’s expected improvement will be crucial for a rebuilding team.
  • He is a solid third or fourth starter in the rotation.


  • Reynaldo Lopez: 8 Games Started, 3-3 Record, 2 Innings, 4.72 ERA, 30 Strikeouts, 14 Walks, 7 Home Runs Allowed, 1.32 WHIP, .258 Opponent BA, 49 Hits Allowed.
  • Lopez had an up & down season with the White Sox. Although he posted five quality starts, his ERA was a little bloated.
  • While the numbers are not as important for a rebuilding team, Lopez will continue to improve and should be considered a constant for the rotation.

Other pieces, such as Carlos Rodon and Carson Fulmer, are expected to continually improve as members of the White Sox.

Rodon, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, is reportedly expected to miss 6-8 months while recovering from the injury.

While injury issues are a concern for Rodon, he has the potential to be dominant if he can put everything together. He struck out nine or more hitters in five starts this season and struck out 76 hitters in only 69.1 innings this season.

Fulmer is a bit more of a project. While originally projected to be a starter, a bullpen role is also an option for him. He went 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 7 games this season, 5 of which were starts. In 23.1 innings, he struck out 19 hitters and opponents only hit .188 against him.

Overall Grade: B

All things considered, the 2017 season for the White Sox was a success. The rebuild has gotten off to a great start and slowly, but surely, the critical pieces to the future have begun to showcase themselves.

Hahn and the rest of the organization deserve a ton of credit for picking a direction and setting the White Sox up for success in the future.

Renteria also deserves a lot of credit, as he was able to not only get the most out of all his players but also avoid the cellar of the AL Central Division. He displayed this ability with the Cubs in 2014 and has all the makings of a Manager who can lead a team to… and win a World Series.

Follow Me on Twitter: @lAmSteveJohnson