Anthony Rizzo did not back down Thursday from his statement at the end of last season. Rizzo said the Cubs are going to win the National League Central Division Crown this year.
Rizzo told the beat writers during a stop on the Cubs Caravan at Jacob Beidler Elementary, “We’re going to win the NL Central. I guess you guys can all quote me on that. With all due respect to every team, they’re just as good, talent-wise. But we are going to do some things this year. That’s what we are expecting, and that’s what we’re putting our sights on and we’re not going to accept anything else.”
And Rizzo is not just looking at the upcoming season he sees the Cubs contending for several years.
“I was saying it to my family when everything was going down to get [Jon] Lester and [Joe] Maddon and signing the other guys. For the rest of my career, I should be on a contending team. That’s exciting.”
Jake Arrieta was asked about Rizzo’s guarantee and he does not think winning the division is “out of reach at all.”
Anthony Rizzo reiterated the goal is to make the playoffs then once in the post-season “the ultimate goal is to win the World Series.”
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Jake Arrieta told the beat writers Thursday that he thought his one-year contract with the Cubs would be wrapped up in a day or two. There was talk at the end of the season about a possible long-term extension for Arrieta, but that does not appear to be the case this winter.
The right-hander said he didn’t know if the Cubs and his agent, Scott Boras, were discussing a long-term extension or not, but he would be open to it.
Jake Arrieta is arbitration eligible for the first time. Arrieta made $544,500 last year and he should receive around $3.9-4.2 million in 2015 through the process.
Joe Maddon and Wrigley Field
Joe Maddon has “always been in awe of Wrigley Field” according to a report from the Tribune and he is excited for the changes that are taking place at the old ballyard.
Maddon knows it could take a portion of the fan base time to get used to the restored and renovated Wrigley Field. Maddon pointed out to the Tribune that a lot of thought was put into the process and “it’s going to be tastefully done.”
C.J. Edwards is attending the convention and was wearing a Cubs jersey during Thursday’s caravan. Edwards donned a No. 3 and explained to the Tribune why he wears the number.
According to the Tribune, “Edwards will wear jersey No. 3 in memory of friend Will Bedenbaugh, who was killed in an auto accident four years ago. ‘This is the number he wore, and I told his parents that if I can get it, I’m going to wear it. And I’m going to wear it with pride because I’d like to keep the memory of him in my heart and wherever we go.’”
News, Notes and Rumors
The Tribune’s Mark Caro thinks ‘Go Cubs Go’ must go.
Peter Gammons examined The MLB Power Crave while pointing out the Cubs’ front office was two years ahead of the rest of the league when they began focusing on offense and power bats while other teams still centered on pitching.
Jay Jaffe reviewed the Cubs off-season and gave the front office a preliminary grade of A-.
Major League Baseball announced Thursday the 2016 All-Star Game will be at PETCO Park in San Diego. And it’s starting to look like the Nationals will host the 2017 Mid-Summer Classic.
Former Cubs’ lefty Glendon Rusch, who is attending the convention, will be named the pitching coach for High-A Lake Elsinore in the Padres’ system.
Buster Olney continued his mid-January rankings on Thursday with his latest top 10 focused on the best defensive teams in baseball. Olney’s top 10 teams in the field: 1) Royals 2) Orioles 3) Reds 4) Dodgers 5) Cardinals 6) Athletics 7) Rays 8) Pirates 9) Rockies 10) Yankees … and honorable mentions: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Braves and Diamondbacks.
According to Jon Heyman, Norichika Aoki may be of interest to the Giants and Braves while the Orioles have been in the mix for the former Brewers and Royals outfielder for a while. David O’Brien confirmed the Braves interest in Aoki and said there could be a fit if the money is right.
Chris Cotillo reported Thursday the Braves are no longer in the mix to sign free agent RHP Brandon Beachy. Beachy reportedly narrowed his decision to six teams earlier this week and is expected to sign with a team soon.
According to multiple reports, RHP Kameron Loe was suspended for 50 games for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. Loe pitched in seven games for the Cubs during the 2013 season.
This Day In Cubstory
2009 – Cubs signed free agent Erick Almonte
2009 – Cubs signed free agent Matt Smith
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Jon Lieber for one-year and $3.5 million
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Tom Goodwin
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Alan Benes
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Anthony Shumaker
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Jeff Reed
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Bob Patterson
1978 – Alfredo Amezaga, born
1970 – Ron Villone, born
1916 – Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. became a minority stockholder in the Cubs for $50,000 when Charles Weeghman purchased the team from Charles P. Taft.
1910 – Dizzy Dean, born
1907 – Cubs traded Doc Gessler, Jack Harper and cash to the Reds for Chick Fraser