Five Stories to Watch for the Week of July 2nd

NBA Free Agency Begins

NBA free agency began with a bang and slapped the Bulls upside the head. Key reserve Omer Asik agreed to sign a three year $25 Million Offer sheet with the Houston Rockets. He can’t sign the deal until July 11 and the Bulls have three days after that to match the offer or let him go.

Asik is an extremely valuable player for the Bulls bench mob. He averaged 3.1 PPG and 5.3 RPG on the season. His two missed free throws in the final seconds of the Bulls first round playoff loss to Philadelphia played a big role in the 76ers comeback win to eliminate the Bulls.

The Bulls are in a Catch 22. They need Asik to keep their depth in the frontcourt, but its hard to swallow a $25 Million Contract for a player that is likely to continue being a backup.

MLB All-Star Game Selections
The first place White Sox eagerly awaited the All Star selections announced Sunday. Chris Sale and Paul Konerko seemed to be locks for the team. Adam Dunn, A.J. Pierzynski and Jake Peavy were all considered to be on the cusp of making the team. They landed 3.5 out of five. Dunn made the team despite hitting just .210. His 24 Home Runs and 58 RBI’s place him third and fifth respectively in all of baseball.

Peavy is third in the American League in innings pitched and sixth in ERA and strikeouts. He was given one of the five American League Final Vote spots in a final attempt to make the team.

Pierzynski was robbed of a berth on a the All-Star team. He ranks first in the American League in RBI’s and batting average and first in slugging among catchers. He was quoted earlier in the week as not expecting to make the team from the player vote due to his lack of popularity among his peers.

Sale brings a 9-2 record and a 2.24 league leading Earned Run Average to Kansas City. Konerko is on pace for the best year of his career. Konerko’s .335 average ranks second in the American League to Angels rookie Mike Trout.

The Cubs landed Starlin Castro and Bryan Lahair on the All-Star Roster. Castro is hitting .296 with six home runs, 40 rbi’s and 16 stolen bases. Lehair is hitting .286 with 13 hr’s and 28 rbi’s.

Soler to Report to Mesa

Jorge Soler finalized his nine year $30 million contract avoiding the Monday deadline that imposes penalties on teams that spend more than $2.9 Million on international players. Soler is expected to report to Mesa for his own extended spring training, then join the Cubs rookie league team in Mesa. With Rizzo now in the majors, let the Soler countdown commence on the North Side.

Sox return Home for Texas and Toronto
After a successful 4-3 roadtrip, the White Sox return home with first place intact. After a night off Monday, the Series with Texas opens with an All-Star matchup. Current White Sox All-Star Chris Sale will matchup against three time All-Star Roy Oswalt of Texas.

The White Sox 23-16 road record is second in the American League to the Yankees. Their 19-21 home mark is the third worst in the AL. To win the Central, the White Sox need to turn things around at home. Dylan Axelrod, Jose Quintana will fill out the rotation against Texas. The series opener against Toronto on Friday night doesn’t have a starter listed yet.

It was also reported recently that opening day starter John Danks will undergo more test this week to determine how his shoulder is progressing.

Cubs Travel to Atlanta, New York
After a three game sweep of Houston and taking two of three from the Mets, the Cubs head to the road having one five of six. Anthony Rizzo’s anticipate arrival seemed to give the Cubs a boost. Rizzo hit .263 with one home run and four rbi’s in his Cubs debut week.

The addition of Soler gives Cubs fans more to be optimistic in the future, but he is still a few years away. The present doesn’t seem as bright when you look at the Cubs rotation for Atlanta. Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm start for the Cubs in the three game set in the Peach City.

Samardzija opened the season with a 8.2 one hit, eight strikeout masterpiece in the Cubs 4-3 victory over Washington. He struggled with inconsistency through the rest of April. Samardzija pithced very well in May giving up three runs of less in every start. He has struggled greatly in June. Samardzija has given up five or more runs in three of his last four starts, all losses.

Volstad returns after a six week exile to Iowa. He gave up four or more earned runs in his last six starts before being sent down. He is 0-6 with a 7.26 ERA in eight starts this season.

Maholm and Matt Garza round out the Cubs rotation the remainder of the week.

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