Brandon Solves The Internet: Chicago Sports Edition

Welcome back to another edition of Brandon Solves the Internet. Whenever he feels like it, he answers questions he finds around the internet (or gets drunkenly screamed at while at the bar). This week, Brandon is answering questions about all of the Chicago sports teams.

If the Bears catch a few breaks, can they surprise people and be a playoff team?

Brandon: No. God no. I’ve noticed over the past couple seasons that there is a large amount of Bears fans deciding their opinions on the Bears by reading Bears Twitter, which is mostly composed of failed influencers and people who build their followings by dedicating themselves to appealing to the lowest common denominator of fans. They give the absolute dumbest opinions with absolutely no use for proof. Bears Twitter is the Porn Hub comment section of fandom.

To make matters worse, we are in the absolute biggest black hole of the NFL season. The draft is over, the free agents have been picked over, and we are still six weeks from training camp. What we have now is offseason training programs and non contact drills. Nothing of even remote importance can be gleamed from these workouts, but that doesn’t stop the influencers of Bears twitter from ejaculating out dumb tweets about how good players look and how everyone is wrong for thinking this team won’t be good.

The truth is that the Bears are not a very good team and are not built to be a very good team. The Bears would need an insane series of things to go right for this to happen. You know who else we could say that about? EVERY. GODDAMN. TEAM.

That’s the problem with Bears fans, specifically. They have this insane level of unearned confidence in their knowledge because they came in third place in a fantasy football team one time. There weren’t any Cubs or Blackhawks fans rolling into their respective seasons thinking their teams would make the playoffs. But every year, thanks in large part to dumb people from high perches, fans think the Bears will be good.

As for the Bears, they have made a concious decision not to surround their biggest investment, quarterback Justin Fields, with anything that even remotely resembles high end talent. The Bears passing offense is dependent on Darnell Mooney turning into Jerry Rice and Cole Kmet turning into Travis Kelce this season.

Mooney 81 receptions last season, but was helped greatly by opposing teams bracket covering or double covering Allen Robinson. With Robinson now with the Rams, Mooney is the top receiver. The Bears only brought in spare pieces in Byron Pringle and Marquez Valdes Scantling, who were 3rd and 4th receivers when they were playing with the two best quarterbacks of our generation. They then drafted a wide receiver in Velus Jones who will be a gadget player.

Of course, that didn’t stop Bears Twitter from saying that Mooney is going to be the breakout star of the league, Pringle is going to shock everyone as a number two receiver, and that the connection Jones and Fields already have is going to make everyone feel dumb. In other words, the Bears are going to have an offense that will rival the “greatest show on turn era Rams.”

Again, optimism shoved straight up your ass, no lube. Day in and day out.

If the Bears had done more on offense…and defense for that matter, then this team could creep it’s way up to eight wins on the strength of a weak schedule. In fact, they should be able to show the baseline competenece to start as well as 3-1. Eventually they will have to play good teams, though, and they are going to flame out.

So year, the Bears could surprise people and be a playoff team in the same way that the Lions could be a playoff team, the Jets could be a playoff team, McDonalds could be healthy, Nickelback could win a Pulitzer. It could happen. But i’d bet against it.

With their current cap issues and aging roster, when will the Blackhawks be a competitive team, again?

Brandon: The Blackhawks are still going to be bad next season, and after that, we are staring down the inevitability of a very different team. Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews, franchise foundations, three time Stanley Cup champions, and 16 year veterans in the league, will be free agents. Alex Debrincat will also be a free agent, but it will probably be in the team’s best interest to sign him to a contract extension this offseason.

The Blackhawks are currently looking at having 20 million dollars in cap space this offseason, but do not have a first round pick this season, after giving it up in the trade for Seth Jones. While it would make sense to try to keep Patrick Kane around, as he is still an effective scorer and had 92 points on the season. the upcoming season very well might be the end of the line for Jonathan Toews.

Toews seemed to be a surefire Hall of Famer after Chicago won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons, but his health has faded alongside the team’s competitiveness over the past seven seasons. Toews put up a career worst in points last year, along with a career worst in +/-. With a 10.5 million dollar cap hit this season and a full no-trade clause, this looks to be his last season with the team.

The Hawks could use this season to bring in a couple younger pieces with their 20 million in cap space that will still be effective when they hit their next competitive window, like Filip Forsberg or Ryan Strome. They could also hold back, only operating around the edges, improving their chances of getting a top pick in next year’s draft, when they will have 60 million dollars in cap space to really build something new and exciting.

I would expect at least one more year of basement dwelling by the Blackhawks, but there is a path to competitiveness sooner rather than later.

What’s wrong with the White Sox and is it something they could solve before the season gets out of hand?

Two things are wrong with the White Sox, and only one is going to get fixed. They have had bad luck with health this year. Luckily, the team is starting to get healthy so they should get better on that front.

The other problem is that noted drunk Tony La Russa is coaching this team and it will not be an easy fix, considering he only has the job in the first place because of his close relationship with owner Jerry Reindsorf.

Now, I don’t like going on victory laps very often, but I absolutely called this as an incredibly stupid idea from the start. A good manager won’t necessarily help a team on a day to day basis, but a bad manager will definitely harpoon a team. The White Sox were too talented last year to get run off the field in the first round of the playoffs. They are also too talented this year to be two games below .500, sitting in third place in the worst division in baseball.

You know who else is too talented to be two games below .500? The Angels, and they just fired their manager, Joe Madden, in an effort to turn around their season. Madden has also won a World Series more recently than La Russa. He is ten years younger. He is generally well liked by his players. Madden also doesn’t look like a melted candle wedged into a jersey. But the Angels knew it had to be done to try to salvage their season, so they cut bait and are bringing in different leadership.

I have zero confidence that the White Sox will do the right thing, even if the front office knows what they need to do, and i’m going to go out on a limb and sya that I believe Rick Hahn knows what the biggest problem with this team is, but he won’t be allowed to do what needs to be done.

With all that said, I go back to the fact that the White Sox play in the worst division in baseball. They are only five games out of first place. They will probably still win their division. At least, they had better hope they win the division. They are six in the wild card, and if they can’t get ahead of the Twins and Indians, they are really going to struggle to get past the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays.

The Cubs are going to be terrible for awhile, aren’t they?

YEEEEEEP. Dig in, it’s going to be a long way down. The Cubs already have the third worst record in the National League, and they still haven’t traded Willson Contreras, which will be a mistake that would feel unprecedented if they hadn’t traded all of their other stars last year. Contreras has been the best hitting catcher in MLB this season and should get a large return when he inevitably gets jettisoned. There is a train of thought that says that the Cubs should spend the money to keep arguably the best player at his position as he enters his prime. But then the Ricketts family would have to spend some of their money that they have earmarked to give Donald Trump to finally murder democracy in 2024, so their hands are tired.

There is a lot of reason to be optimistic about the Cubs in the long term, as they have a lot of guys who are starting to escel in the minors. Pete Crow Armstrong, who came over in the Javier Baez trade, is hitting like the reincarnation of Tony Gwynn currently. James Triantos, a second round pick last year, has been awesome so far. Caleb Killian, who came over in the Kris Bryant trade, has already made an appearance in the majors. Yohendrick Pinango has nine home runs already. There is a lot of hope. But that’s all it is right now. Hope.

The last batch of prospects got the Cubs to a World Series win, but almost none are still around. Here is a look at the top 10 prospects for the Cubs before the 2014 MLB Season.

1: Javier Baez-Key Contributor, traded to Mets in 2021. Signed with Tigers in offseason. Off to terrible start in Detroit.
2: Kris Bryant-League MVP in 2016, traded to Giants in 2021. Signed with Rockies in offseason. Off to terrible start in Colorado.
3: Albert Almora-Never quite put it together in the majors. Became MLB journeyman. Currently on the Reds.
4: Jorge Soler-Traded after World Series for Wade Davis. Has a 50 home run season and a World Series win since leaving.
5: Arismendy Alcantara-Bit player, traded in 2016 for Chris Coghlan. Currently plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.
6: Pierce Johnson-No impact on team. Waived in 2018. Relief Pitcher for Padres last three seasons.
7: CJ Edwards-Key bullpen arm in 2016 run. Ineffective journeyman since 2018.
8: Dan Vogelbach-Never played for team. Traded for Mike Montgomery prior to 2016.
9: Arodys Vizcaino-On the Major League roster for two weeks at end of 2014. Never played for team again.
10: Kyle Hendricks-Only member of list still on team.

The Cubs drafted Kyle Shwarber in 2014. He would also have a huge impact on the team, then was let go in free agency, and is playing for his third team since then. It all feels a bit like a crap shoot. All you can do, short of spending money, is get as many guys into your system with upside as possible, and hope a couple of the develop.

The Cubs aren’t close to winning games. Their next best chance might not be until 2024 or 2025.

And finally, let’s hear about the Bulls.

What trades can the Bulls realistically make to improve their team this year, and can they get Anthony Davis?

Could they? Sure, probably. The Lakers situation needs to be blown up and Zach Lavine is sure making it seem like he is interested in seeing what free agency is like. A sign and trade could happen. But do the Bulls really want Davis?

YES. YES. GODFUCKINGDAMNIT. YES. I KNOW HE IS FROM CHICAGO. WHO THE HELL CARES? Do other cities have this weird fetish with local players? It’s absolutely insane. Remember the last season that Anthony Davis was able to play a full season? No you don’t, because he never has. He is also starting to show signs of aging with most of his major stats going in the wrong direction over the past few years.

Another name that has been thrown around quite a bit is Rudy Gobert of the Jazz. Gobert will earn an average of 41 million over the next three seasons, and has a 46 million dollar player option after that. That’s a lot of money to spend on someone who brings very little to the table offensively, and bringing him in means you defintely have to keep Lavine for his offense. The Jazz would need to want to take back Nicola Vucevic, Coby White, and Derrick Jones to make it happen. Future draft picks will assuredly be involved. And that’s only if the Jazz would actually want Vuc.

Richaun Holmes has been a name that has been thrown out there. He had his playing time cut after the Kings traded for Domantas Sabonis. There isn’t really a clean fit for trade with Sacramento, though, and it might involve the Bulls having to take on a contract like Harrison Barnes to make it work. And it wouldn’t even be a “well, at least Barnes can fill minutes” type of add in. It would be a “we have to immediately cut Barnes and pay him out so we can have enough money for Zach Lavine” type of trade.

There is a bit of an out-of-the-box solution that could be intriguing. The Bulls can’t technically trade their draft pick this season, which is going to be at number 18. But they could draft someone for the Hornets, then move that pick plus some cap relief to Charlotte for PJ Washington and Nick Richards.

Richards might not be a known name, but there is some potential there. A former second round pick out of Kentucky, he hasn’t gotten a ton of action, but his Per 36 puts him as a 14 point/9 rebound player on a cheap deal that could thrive in a new environment. And again, he is making less than two million dollars per season right now, and the Bulls need some low price tlaent that can eat some minutes for them.

The bigger get would be PJ Washington. A streaky three point shooting power forward, Washington can open up the floor on the outside, allowing Lavine to get inside and Demar Derozan to get his mid range chances. The Bulls desperately need more three point shotting and Washington averaged 4.5 attempts per game over the past two seasons. That in spite of the fact that he had his playing time taken away off and on for the Hornets. When he is on, he can get you four 3’s per night. Trust me, I know. I wrote an entire gambling theory called the “PJ Washington Theory” that worked really well until FanDuel made it impossible to do.

It’s fun to think about the Bulls taking another big swing in the offseason, but the truth is, they really need to make the team deeper and better defensively at center. They might have to get lucky in the draft and making some deals for guys who might not be foundational pieces, but are pieces a winning team needs.

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