Samardzija and the Cubs Will Not Discuss an Extension During the Season and Other News

Jeff Samardzija did his job on Monday and put his team in position to win the ballgame. Samardzija tossed seven innings of shutout ball while his defense made the plays behind him when they needed to. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would like for Samardzija to sign a long-term extension. And Samardzija would like to stay with the organization … a consistent theme from both sides all off-season.

Theo Epstein addressed the situation with Samardzija prior to Monday’s game and said the two sides would not be negotiating a contract extension during the season. Samardzija made a similar statement last week.

According to the Tribune, “All of the talking will be done on the field and no longer at the negotiating table, at least for now.”

Multiple reports have suggested the Cubs are asking a lot in return for Samardzija, who remains under team control through the 2015 season.  Samardzija views himself as a top of the rotation starter and would like to be compensated as such, along with some no-trade protection to ensure he will remain with the Cubs. The Cubs, on the other hand, would like to pay him as a middle of the rotation starter while they are asking teams for the volume and quality of players it would take to land a top of the rotation starter.

While both sides may be done with discussing the situation in public, the questions will continue and increase as the season progresses and it gets closer to the trade deadline.

Theo Epstein

Theo Epstein met briefly with the beat writers Monday prior to the opener against the Pirates. Epstein addressed his team and the future of the organization.

“I think most [fans] are [on board] and some aren’t, and the ones who aren’t, I don’t hold it against them. Baseball is best enjoyed that day and watching the team in front of you play, and we haven’t been good enough, judging by that standard. The only standard that matters is wins and losses and we just haen’t been good enough. I’m right there with them. I understand it. It’s my job to take a little broader view and make sure we grow this into a very healthy organization that can go out and have success year in and year out. I think our fans as a whole have been incredibly supportive. I really look forward to doing some things this season to make them proud and hopefully we can go out and surprise some people. In the long haul we want to award them with October baseball.”

Theo Epstein said he would not be walking out on the team and organization he is building. Epstein told Comcast SportsNet, “This is the place to be right now. We all feel really (bleeping) good about where we’re going. When I encounter the prototypical cynic or doubter of the organization, I’m OK with it. Because I do have a vision for how they’re going to react in three or four years when they look around the diamond and they see Almora, Baez, Bryant, Rizzo and Castro and every position is pretty damn good with a prime-age player. We’re doing some special things. That’s a huge dichotomy because I think a lot of people think we’re down, and we’re really on the way up, big time.”

Justin Ruggiano

Justin Ruggiano was held out of Monday’s lineup with the sore left ankle that hampered him toward the end of Spring Training. The Cubs downplayed the injury and said he would be able to return to the lineup by Wednesday. The Cubs face righty Charlie Morton on Wednesday night so Ruggiano should get an extra day and be in the starting lineup on Thursday morning when the Cubs square off against Wandy Rodriguez.

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta completed another simulated game on Monday, as scheduled. Arrieta told Jesse Rogers “everything went well.” Arrieta will stay with the team and work with Chris Bosio until it is time for him to begin a minor league rehab assignment.

Arodys Vizcaino

Theo Epstein confirmed the weather is one of the reasons the Cubs sent Arodys Vizcaino to High-A Dayton to start the season. The Cubs also “have a structured program” set up for Vizcaino for the first month of the season.

News and Notes

The Cubs think Mike Olt can be a big part of their future according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

Emilio Bonifacio switched his number from “43” to “64” prior to Monday’s game. According to Carrie Muskat, that was the number he wore in Winter Ball and it was easier to get than no. 1. Bonifacio wore no. 43 in Spring Training.

Ken Rosenthal pointed out Monday, just before Jeff Samardzija threw his first pitch of the season, that the Cubs received two players on their Opening Day roster for Matt Garza in Mike Olt and Justin Grimm. A third player, Neil Ramirez, almost made the team out of camp and C.J. Edwards is considered the best player in the deal. And the Rangers have nothing to show for acquiring Matt Garza, not even a pick in June’s draft.

The Cubs ended up saving $635,000 last week by letting Donnie Murphy go to the Rangers and releasing George Kottaras. The Rangers picked up all of Donnie Murphy’s contract ($825,000 plus incentives) with the straight waiver claim and the Cubs ended up saving $810,000 on George Kottaras’ salary ($1.075 million, plus incentives). The Cubs paid Kottaras one quarter of his salary ($265,000) as termination pay and he signed a minor league contract with the Indians on Sunday. The two moves, as the Sun-Times pointed out, cut $1.635 million from the Cubs payroll. The additions of John Baker and Ryan Kalish cost the team $1 million ($500,000 per player, league minimum).

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  • Andy Turner

    I would imagine the Rangers are done trading with the Cubs for a while.

  • cubtex

    I mentioned this to Tony on a previous thread but I think we will see Schierholtz moved up to 3,4, or 5 (until he is dealt) He gives the team the best consistent at bat. You cannot have so much swing and miss in the middle. Lake is a 6 or 7 hole hitter. Rizzo is a 6 or 7 hole hitter and so is Olt. In 11 AB’s yesterday Lake, Rizzo and Olt K’d 7 times.

    • Tony_H

      Schiertholtz batted 4th and 5th all last year and will do so against RH’s. He is not moving back up to the spot. He is not going to and wasn’t going to yesterday play against LH’s and especially the elite LH’s. Ruggiano will be there and batting 4th/5th.

      • cubtex

        Yea. He batted 5th most of the time last year. Tough to make out a lineup with this group. I would end this Rizzo batting 3rd experiment once and for all though. He is not a 3 hitter and never will be. Leadoff Bonifacio/Kalish and bat Castro 2. and Schierholtz 3. Why continue to put a player where he can’t perform and hurt the team?

        • Tony_H

          He batted 4th yesterday, I expect that to continue, except against LH’s were Ruggiano will bat in front of him, I think.

    • Tony_H

      John Arguello ‏@CubsDen 53s
      Worried about Rizzo? Top NL LH hitters Heyward, Bruce, Cargo, & Headley have gone a combined 0 for 23 with 14 Ks vs. Liriano. Votto 2 for 10

      • cubtex

        Understood but Rizzo can’t hit most average lefties.

      • cubtex

        vs LH hitters last year.

        Heyward .264 .347 OBP
        Bruce .246 .291
        Cargo .310 .340
        Headley .248 .327
        Rizzo .189 .282

        Out of that group Cargo is the only true #3 hitter.

        • Tony_H

          Not many true ACES, not many true #3 hitters, not many true defensive SS’s. Baseball does not have 30 of many of the best of the best.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Keith Law was on ESPN 1000 AM radio today, and he was talking about Rizzo. He said Rizzo isn’t going to hit for a high average, but he may hit 20-25 HRs per year with a lot of walks. He said he is inconsistent with his batting mechanics.

          • Tony_H

            I like Keith Law, but he does not like the Cubs and his talk about them is usually as negative as Ray and you.

          • cubtex

            So Keith Law will give an opinion on what he thinks Rizzo is because he is not a fan of the Cubs? That’s a new one. I wonder if he says the same thing about Freddie Freeman?

          • Tony_H

            I would assume he says that Freeman has a higher ceiling and higher projections. I am saying all projections have ranges, and he is usually on the lower side of them with Cubs players.

          • cubtex

            Keith Law is not the only one who has said that about Rizzo. It’s not like that is out of left field. I can’t see how he would give his opinion differently on a player because he is not a fan of the team.

          • Tony_H

            I agree. Rizzo looks to top out at 260-270 range, but will have one season where he is higher, when he has an unstainably high BABIP.

            I do see his power range to be more 25-30 though, with a few years in the 30’s.

            Honestly, when you add in his gold glove defense, that is a pretty good 1B.

            Did you see the info I replied to you from BP, talking about hitters bunting and trying to take advantage of defensive shifts?

          • cubtex

            Yea. Thanks

  • cubtex

    Did anybody else see what happened to Don Baylor catching the 1st pitch of the game from Vlad Guerrero? Owwwwwwch! Sucks getting old. Poor guy

    • Tony_H

      Yes, that hurt just to watch.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Yesterday wasn’t pretty from an offensive standpoint at all we have so much potential it just needs to comeout. Rizzo, Olt, Castro, lake, Kalish.

  • Rational Logic

    Love to quote from Theo about the haters today eating their words if the plan comes to fruition. He’s passionate about it and is fed up with all the negativity and shortsightedness. He probably reads CCO.

    • Josh Man

      Hi, Theo!

    • Ripsnorter1

      There is only two or three posters here who are considered “negative.”

      “Negative:” that’s an inaccurate term. The term should be “Cubs’ fans who dwell in reality and who see reality.” After all, when their opinions are proved to be correct, what is “negative” about that? Only that the product on the field isn’t winning, right? That’s the only negative that I see.

      • Tony_H

        Sorry, Rip, it is negative. To be your definition, you are saying everyone else is not in reality and cant’ see it. Sorry, I know exactly what this team is, where our players rank in MLB, and how our prospects compare to other prospects and systems.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Most, if not all mothers, love their children so much that they cannot see their children’s faults. For instance, “I am so proud of my son! He’s 50 now, and got his first job! He’s working six hours a week at McDonalds!”

          Reality would say, “He’s a lazy bum that should have had that job back at age 14.”

          Emotion can blind one to reality.

          AND…I don’t think it is a crime to disagree with Theo.

          • Tony_H

            A little extreme example. I pick the Cubs to win under 70 games this year, I know that there is not guarantee that Theo will bring the Cubs a World Series Championship, I know that prospects fail and not all of our elite top prospects will turn into even regular players.

            And actually in some areas, it is a crime to disagree with Theo, you should check your local laws, I had that one introduced about a year ago :)

          • Denver Mike

            Nothing wrong with disagreeing with Theo, even I’ve been known to do so once in a while. But don’t hide behind the veil of “reality” because you are comfortable with your attitude and that of others that share your view. I think most would consider it negative, pessimistic, and tiresome.

            The words that come to my mind aren’t reality, or realistic, but rather biased and delusional. But hey, that’s just my “reality”.

          • cubtex

            Really? I think the word “delusional” fits the extreme loyalty of what Theo is doing.

            A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior
            evidence to the contrary. As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief
            based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma,
            illusion, or other effects of perception.

          • Neil

            Please end this conversation

          • Denver Mike

            I know what it means, I use Google too :)

      • Tony_H

        Your upvotes was like a roll call :)

        • cubtex

          who is guessvote? LOL. And it works both ways with you and your merry group of kool aid drinkers

          • Neil

            Please end this conversation.

          • cubtex

            of course but was curious as to why I was signaled out? Didn’t start it or say anything different as to what Tony or Denver Mike implied.

          • Denver Mike

            FYI, I take no offense either way.

            Neil has created a great site, and is certainly entitled to govern it how he chooses.

            When it comes to my comments and those directed towards me I am of the opinion that if it isn’t racist/antisemitic, threatening, or vulgar it’s fair game. Same with the down arrows, they didn’t hurt anything, but there became this huge obsession with how many down arrows people were getting. Who cares? It’s the internet, and trying to regulate the trolls will only neuter the things that make it great, like the freedom to speak your mind.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Six year extension for Chris Archer today.