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.

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Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe