Rizzo to Play in the WBC … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Monday ended up being a relatively quiet day for the Chicago Cubs … and that figures to change as the week progresses. The caravan kicks off Wednesday with a stop at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard then the Cubs will serve lunch to several hundred active military members at the 2nd Battalion, 24th U.S. Marine Corps base.

The Cubs have three arbitration eligible players that they must exchange salary figures with prior to Friday’s deadline … Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and James Russell. Teams can avoid arbitration with the player anytime prior to their salary arbitration hearing (hearings scheduled between February 4 – February 20). The rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic will be announced on Thursday and at least one of the Cubs’ starting infielders will be participating in the tournament.

Anthony Rizzo has committed to play for Team Italy in the WBC and it appears Starlin Castro will suit up for Team Dominican Republic. Castro has told the media in the Dominican that he is going to play for his country in the WBC, but the Cubs have not confirmed the report.

Another day and still nothing official from the Cubs on signing Carlos Villanueva … the Cubs must clear a roster spot before announcing the reported two-year deal with Villanueva.

Rick Porcello

The Rick Porcello trade rumors heated up on Monday. According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, the Tigers have discussed a deal for Porcello with the Diamondbacks, Mariners and perhaps other teams. The Tigers would “likely ask for a shortstop, a late-inning reliever or right-handed hitting outfielder in return.” Morosi did not mention the Cubs as one of the teams interested in Porcello but he’s rumored to have been on the Cubs radar since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over baseball operations.

The Cubs have two players that would fit with what the Tigers are looking for in return for Porcello, but Carlos Marmol ($9.8 million) and Alfonso Soriano ($36 million) are owed a lot of money and the Cubs are not willing to give either player away.

Reports last week indicated that the Cubs and Tigers could not find a match on a two-team trade for Porcello … and Morosi reported that the Padres and Orioles have also expressed interest in Porcello.

If the rumored three-way deal that was being discussed between the Cubs, Tigers and Orioles was to take place, don’t look for J.J. Hardy to be in the rumored trade. Buck Showalter was asked if the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed in order to trade the former Brewers’ shortstop. Showalter’s response, “What’s the word above overwhelmed?” The Orioles’ skipper thinks Hardy is going to have a big year at the plate for the Birds … and if the report from Rock Kubatko is any indication, Hardy is not going to be traded this winter.

If the Cubs are trying to pry Porcello from the Tigers, it seems likely it would take a third team to get into the mix.

Dillon Maples

Dillon Maples learned a lot from his first season of pro ball according to a report from Cubs.com. The highly touted prospect admitted that his year “did not go exactly” how he drew it up.

As it turns out, Maples did not follow the off-season program the Cubs gave him last year and he took full responsibility for not being prepared for the season. Maples said he has followed the off-season program he was given this winter “religiously.”

Full Report from Cubs.com

Polling the CCO

The latest polls on the CCO will close on Tuesday night … so if you haven’t voted on the amount of home runs you think Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo will hit during the upcoming season make sure you cast your vote today.

How many home runs will Starlin Castro hit in 2013?

  • 16 – 20 (59%, 283 Votes)
  • 10 – 15 (25%, 119 Votes)
  • 21 – 25 (13%, 64 Votes)
  • More than 25 (3%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 478

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How many home runs will Anthony Rizzo hit in 2013?

  • 26 – 30 (47%, 230 Votes)
  • 21 – 25 (29%, 141 Votes)
  • 31 – 35 (17%, 82 Votes)
  • 16 – 20 (4%, 20 Votes)
  • More than 35 (3%, 13 Votes)
  • 10 – 15 (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 489

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News, Notes and Rumors

According to a report from Bruce Miles, the Cubs will hold a rookie development program at Northwestern on Thursday. A dozen minor leaguers who have reached Double-A or Triple-A are expected to attend along with Jason McLeod.

The Cubs were thought to be in the mix to sign Shaun Marcum when the off-season began. But Marcum wanted to pitch for a contender and according to Jon Paul Morosi he might get his wish. The Rangers are among three teams (Padres and Pirates) that are pursuing Marcum. The Pirates are looking for insurance in case the deal with Francisco Liriano cannot be finalized. The Pirates signed Jeff Karstens to a one-year deal on Monday so that could have taken them out of the Marcum market.

For those following where Francisco Liriano ends up this winter, the Pirates and Liriano are still discussing a deal. According to Jon Paul Morosi, after the injury arose with Liriano’s right arm, the two-year agreement was put on hold.

Fredi Gonzalez spent time on MLB Network Radio on Monday afternoon and told Jim Bowden that he spoke with Frank Wren on Monday about the ways they are trying to improve the Braves … and both Justin Upton and Michael Bourn were discussed in their conversation. But according to David O’Brien, the Braves and D-Backs have not re-started negotiations for Upton since he rejected the trade to Seattle.

And speaking of Justin Upton and Michael Bourn … the Rangers are keeping lines of communication open between Bourn and Upton and are prepared to act if the price is right according to Jon Paul Morosi.

There is a MLB Prospect Showcase this week in the Dominican Republic. At least 200 scouts and Joe Torre will be on hand to watch players that will be signed on or after July 2.

According to a report from John Shea, the Athletics signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the City of Mesa to move their Spring Training home from Phoenix to Mesa. Oakland is expected to move into Fitch Park and HoHoKam Park in the Spring of 2015.

According to a report from Jeff Passan, MLB payrolls will exceed $3 billion for the first time in 2013 … more than a seven-percent increase from 2012.

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Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
    • Guest

      Just found this interesting. Scot Boras is right about teams being too stingy:

      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/is-boras-right-that-payrolls-are-lagging-behind-revenue/

      • calicub

        Very interesting indeed… For someone so successful Boras is quite illiogical and short sighted. At the very least Boras is mad that teams are keeping money in their pockets rather than throwing it in his. But factually he overlooks that payroll is not the only measure of a teams expenditures (as has been debbated ad naseum on this site since Ricketts has taken over, but i digress), see reconstructing, remodingling, adding on, etc. Increasing franchise values are a number on a piece of paper, and sure that value can effect advertisements and similar facets of the business, it is not truly a value an owner/ship group realizes until they no longer retain that control. Additionally, as all of us have seen in the last decade, the cost of living and operating have steadily increased, organizational needs like FO sizes, or computer programs or w/e, I hope you get my point are mandatory and demand the allocation of large chunks of profit.

        In short, i’d say teams are being smart, not stingy Mr. boras
        Its hard to believe teams still put up with his shenanigans at this point.

        • paulcatanese

          Couldn’t agree more.

        • DWalker

          As with all industries over time; MLB is maturing, going from the wild west approach to the efficiancy approach. The days of freewheeling block buster deal making operations are coming to an end. Oh sure, there will always be some, but now you have a new generation of management that is looking at the system and trying to eek every dollar and percent out of the system in effeciancy. This means locking up young players so they don’t become FA’s, investing in training and medical and stataticians to get every ounce of performance they can under optimum conditions. Take all that and combine it with the new FA system, and teams are taking a REALLY hard look at those FA’s that will cost them a draft pick. Between the money, the money and the pick; those FA’s have to slot in just perfect to make it worthwhile.

          • daverj

            Very well said. To add to your points, increased MLB relevant is not necessarily relevant to the value a free agent brings to a team. If a team thinks that adding a player will not increase revenue beyond the salary of such player, then it does not make economic sense to sign such player … even if the team has quadrupled revenues over the past year. Boras is mixing up the added value of the employee with the value of the franchise … though I think he understands it clearly, he just doesn’t want to admit it.

          • John_CC

            Great points, Cali, DWalker and Dave. Boras’ whining, and that is all it is, accentuates his greed and Prima Donna personality.

            One more point: the FA market is still as insane as ever. Teams have to save up if they intend on landing a Pujols, Hamilton, Grienke, etc.

          • Dorasaga

            Though, weren’t the players “the Show,” and a growth of franchise value relies heavily on its players?

        • Dorasaga

          I agree with you until your conclusion. The Nats owner just made sure his GM just hired Rafael Soriano with a Mariano Rivera deal. Rafael is a Boras client. It seems that a few big fish are still in this pool.
          :-))

          • calicub

            Well fortunately and unfortunately baseball is a business and the greatest talent demands the greatest contract on the open market.

            That being said Soriano opted out of his deal with NY and then refused the qualifying offer seeking a 4yr contract at about the same AAV, but had to settle for a 2yr guaranteed contract (needs 120 games finished, in those 2 years for the option to vest something he hasn’t done once in his 11 yr career nor half that in one! He’s only appeared in that many games over 2 yrs once in that span as well. I can’t imagine that after the great career he’s already had over such a long period of time, that these next two years are going to be the best of his career

            Contract demands, in addition to the attached draft pick destroyed his damage on the open market…

  • Tony_Hall

    I think sometimes we lose track of how young these guys really are that are prospects, that are drafted out of high school. Most guys who are being drafted are the best players in their area, they have dominated most of their lives. Most have never known anything but success.

    Throw a large signing bonus at an 18 year old…and you think the average teenager thinks they know it all…

    Dillon Maples has learned that he needs to follow what he is told or his dream of pitching in the big leagues will be over before it ever started. Once again, it is up to him to do what he needs to do. No one else is to blame. People can check up with him all they want, but like any other teenager, they may say what the adult wants to hear.

    Sometimes the best lessons that we learn are the lessons we learn first hand. Long term, this could be the best thing to happen to Dillon Maples, but for that to be true, it is all up to him.

    • Cory

      Well said Tony. I couldn’t agree more.

  • BosephHeyden

    These WBC games may be a nice gimmick, but the guys who participate in them don’t seem to react well in the season to missing a lot of Spring Training (see: almost the entire Team USA from the last one). With Rizzo being an integral piece of the Cubs’ plans for the forseeable future, this seems like a potential step backwards in progress for him.

    Then again, no one expects the Cubs to come close to competing until next year, so maybe it’s a hit they can take.

    • DWalker

      I kind of wonder if they didn’t let Rizzo do it just to give him more varied game situations on his development path. Its a good chance for him to see a differnt set of pressures at a differnt level. He is still a very developing player and if they have been working on certain thigns this off season, they might feel the live game at bats will help him. I don’t get the impression he has as much of a trouble with the nightlife as some players do, so maybe they felt he was at less risk.

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  • Cory

    Nationals to sign Rafael Soriano- 2 years $28 million… Unreal money for a relief pitcher.

    • daverj

      Bringing in an all-star caliber free agent requires an overpay. On a short deal like two years, it makes a lot of sense for the Nats. In fact, while I agree that it is an overpay, I think this is a great signing by the Nats. The Nats are World Series contenders now and have a short window while Strasburg, Harper, J Zimmermann, Gonzalez and Storen are cost controlled. That is the time to overspend on free agents. When you are in the Cubs position, that is not the time to bring in big name free agents. Fortunately, the current Cubs ownership is wise enough to know that it’s still too soon to bring in big name free agents.

      • Cory

        I agree that its a good signing for Washington. I guess I’m just suprised to see that AAV for relief pitching.

        • Ripsnorter1

          What about Marmol? He’s $9.8 million. Who is better? [Soriano]. But I don’t think it is really that much of an overpay in this world.