Time for the Cubs Core to Come Together and Other News and Rumors

The Cubs’ front office appears to be focused on Masahiro Tanaka and other starting pitching options in case they are unable to sign Tanaka. The bidding for Tanaka will begin next week and the Cubs are expected to be in the mix until the end for the 25-year old right hander. Once Casey Close begins negotiating and accepting formal offers, teams will have a better idea if they will be able to sign him or not.

While the front office continues to work on the roster, players are preparing for the start of Spring Training. Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 13.

Anthony Rizzo spoke with Carrie Muskat about what he learned last season and said it is time for him, Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Darwin Barney ”to come together” and lead the team moving forward.

Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo is preparing for Spring Training and discussed his first full season in the majors with Carrie Muskat. Rizzo reiterated last season was the first time in his professional career he spent an entire year at the same level. Rizzo addressed his batting average with runners in scoring position and admitted he did not realize “how bad it was until the All-Star break.”

Rizzo admitted when he started hearing how bad his average was with runners in scoring position it might have gotten in his head and caused him to press. Rizzo feels he is better prepared for a full season in the majors now after having one under his belt.

Anthony Rizzo spoke with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer at the end of the season. Rizzo said, “No one was disappointed in me with anything. The people who were there saw a lot of balls I hit hard that didn’t go my way, and that spiraled down into a little slump or rut. I think I went two or three times last year not getting a hit for a week. I think having that happen has made me more prepared for when it happens again, not to search for my swing, really. The swing’s there.

Matt Garza

Former Cubs’ starter Matt Garza is getting a lot of press with the clock ticking down to the start of Spring Training. Garza’s market has been slow to develop due to several reasons. Garza is on the same list of most of the teams that are believed to be interested in Masahiro Tanaka. The Diamondbacks, Angels and Twins are among the teams that have been linked to both Garza and Tanaka. Plus, questions about his medicals have surfaced that may be having an impact on the length (number of years) of his contract.


Darren Wolfson reported on Thursday, the Twins are “again kicking the tires” on Matt Garza. And while the Twins might be willing to pay Garza they do not want to sign him to a long-term contract.

LaVelle Neal reported in December “there’s concern around the league about giving Garza a four or five-year deal because of injury concerns.” Garza has a screw near his elbow.

Matt Garza does not have draft pick compensation tied to him like both Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana which should lead to him signing a contract before the other two top-end free agent starters left on the market.

News, Notes and Rumors

Ken Rosenthal reiterated the Diamondbacks tried to trade for Jeff Samardzija earlier in the off-season, but Kevin Towers “considered the asking price to be too high.”

Comcast SportsNet posted 14 questions for the Cubs for 2014.

Peter Gammons posted a report on the five players with potential to approach the near-historic level in 2014.

Brad Ausmus, who interviewed for the Cubs’ job before he was hired by the Tigers, believes the Cubs hired the right guy to manage the team in Rick Renteria.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

  • Tony_Hall

    I just don’t get why teams aren’t lining up to give Garza a 4 or 5 year deal, it is just a screw near his elbow. It is too bad more teams don’t look past, actual injury history like Garza’s #1 fan and just give him his 5 year contract.

    • cubtex

      No. I would rather give a guy a 7 year 140 mil contract to who threw 700 plus innings in a high school tournament, thrown more innings at a young age(read the young age…TRIPLE) in the last 35 years in mlb, who an unbiased pitching coach in Japan said wouldn’t touch on a long term deal but you want to ignore all those facts and give him a 7 year deal because he is 25.
      As I said. I will be much much much(did I say much) more confident with Matt Garza staying healthy over 3 years than Tanaka over 6.

      • Tony_Hall

        LOL

        700 innings in a high school tournament, must have been double elimination.

        LOL

        Is that a double LOL?

        • John_CC

          I think its triple actually!

        • cubtex

          sorry…I obviously meant 700 pitches. Can you imagine that though??? I coached kids at that age and I know you do. Can you imagine pitching a 16 year old kid 700 pitches over 5 days??? Talk about reckless.

          • Tony_Hall

            I have seen some high pitch counts on kids, not sure how you can get to that level though.

            We had a player pitch 6 innings in our tournament game (about 85 pitches) in the afternoon. Our tournament was over, so they left and went to his local teams championship game and pitched all 7 innings and threw way, way more pitches then he did earlier. I told his Dad not to let him pitch that night, but they wouldn’t listen. He went well over 200 pitches that day. The local teams coach wanted to win (and did) and didn’t care that he shouldn’t pitch. It was the only time all season that he could play on both teams in the same day and our season was over.

      • triple

        Cubtex says:

        “This is a fact. Not an opinion.Tanaka has thrown more innings at a young age than anybody in the majors in the past 35 years.”

        And you are putting an emphasis on “young years,” which is very subjective I might add. For example, I guarantee you that Nolan Ryan, who’s IP I included for you from his youngest years that fit in your parameters of “in the past 35 years,” still went on to pitch effectively for another 8 years (up to the age of 46) after that 7 years span, so I’d say that is relatively young. I also mentioned Maddux. Apparently he was not young enough, so I went and looked what he did in the Minors and Majors for his ages of 18-24…. well guess what, once again he has exceeded your boy Tanaka’s IP! 1,402 2/3 IP for a 200 1/3 IP/yr.

        Like I’ve said before, your facts are not always fact. Please don’t post as fact just because some baseball guy put it on the internet. That doesn’t make it fact. Do your homework and look into the matter yourself man. Oh and in case you want to play the “well that’s not major league innings” card, I got news for you. Tanaka has pitched ZERO MLB innings. So trying to weigh what he’s done in Japan compared to America is completely pointless in your “stated facts.” And since the competition is probably closer to the AAA level than MLB level, minor league innings need to be counted to get a comparison of pitchers pitching at young ages. And I’d bet that if I looked up the IP by Tom Glavine and other guys like him who have pitched a ton of innings at a young age and had successful and healthy careers we’d find more guys who have pitched just as much innings at a young age.

        • cubtex

          The statement was that he has thrown more innings at a Young Age than anyone has in the Major Leagues. Young being 18-25. There you go. Just like a test question or quiz. Now…..knock your socks off and find a major league pitcher those ages who has thrown more.

          • triple

            Like I said, Tanaka has pitched a big goose egg in MLB, so you got the answer wrong too apparently! Now if the comparison is pro baseball, I got it right, and your ego is still in the way.

          • cubtex

            I didn’t make up that stat. It was from the Verducci article. You obviously didn’t read it.

    • cubtex

      did you see the x ray of that relief pitchers arm who made the all star game a year or so ago? The guy who was a former fringe minor league pitcher who became high school baseball coach and used to only throw mid to high 80′s. He did that workout with the weighted balls to gain knowledge so he could teach it. He started throwing 90,92,95 and then high 90′s. I forgot his name and I am not even sure if he is still in baseball but that guy had a ton of screws in his throwing arm. It is more common these days and many pitchers have a screw or screws in their arm.

      • cubtex

        steve delabar. I remembered his name

      • Tony_Hall

        I haven’t. I was joking about the screws. Remember I believe all pitchers will miss time due to injury.

  • BigJonLilJon

    Typical old school baseball types….. Garza has a screw near his elbow so they are scared. Let his price fall and maybe we can resign him if we lose out on Tanaka. Coarse…. Team Theo will probably just flip him again…. lol. But seriously… Garza seems to be a class act and a hell of a pitcher when healthy

    • Tony_Hall

      Not sure there are many old school baseball types in FO’s anymore, but the delay on Garza is Tanaka and that he is still hoping to get 4 or even 5 years, when most teams probably would like 2 and will go 3. I would sign him for 3 or less years at this point, no problem.

      But we have a better chance at signing Tanaka then Garza coming back to the Cubs.

      • cubtex

        so you are saying there is zero chance.

        • John_CC

          There is less than zero chance that Garza would resign with the Cubs.

        • Tony_Hall

          Putting words in my mouth again?

          There is a chance Garza comes back, if he ends up without a team and it is getting late and the Cubs don’t sign Tanaka.

          • cubtex

            I was joking because there less than a 10% chance Tanaka signs with Cubs so Garza would have to be close to zero

          • Tony_Hall

            I know, but i disagree on the Cubs chances at being less than 10%.

      • BigJonLilJon

        The delay of any FA pitching is going to be due to Tanaka. Any team that signs a FA pitcher before the Tanaka announcement, is simply them saying “we gave up” on Tanaka sweepstakes. Almost feel bad for some of those guys. Will hurt the ones with draft pick consideration the most

  • 07GreyDigger

    See Tex? Even Rizzo knew his RISP was bad last year.

    • cubtex

      lol. how could he not?

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    I’ve heard the Japan pitching coach say he wouldn’t touch Tanaka with a 10-foot pole. I know there are a plethora of coaches with inside knowledge that would touch him with their bellybuttons if they could, including his own team’s coach. So are there others out there that have warned teams off him? Or is it just one guy? So far he seems to be in the distinct minority, which doesn’t make him wrong but makes him unique. Is that a fair assessment?

    • cubtex

      Not true Rider. Yates said he would recommend Tanaka to anyone for a year or 2. It is the long term deal for him. That is what he said Rider. You should listen to that interview. The guy has a lot of insight to the workload of the Japanese kids and culture.