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The Chicago Cubs accomplished a number of stated goals yesterday by acquiring 22-year-old first base prospect, Anthony Rizzo (together with pitching prospect Zach Cates, in exchange for Andrew Cashner and outfield prospect Kyung Min-Na). The team got younger, the Cubs picked up a long-term first baseman, and the Cubs preserved available cash to go after other young pieces (say, for example, Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler).

Cubs’ General Manager Jed Hoyer spoke about the trade, and highly of the young man he thrice acquired.

  • On Rizzo’s overall makeup, something Scouting Chief Jason McLeod has described as the best he’s ever seen: “He has fantastic makeup. After beating cancer when he was 19 years old, he’s a very strong individual. In San Diego I got to know him better than I did in Boston. He makes a big impression on his teammates and he’s an incredibly hard worker …. Overcoming cancer was incredibly impressive, but I think it’s a mistake if you just allude to his makeup that he overcame cancer. He’s a very strong person …. He’s a leader that can put our organization, our team on the right path as far as our culture. He’s a very impressive individual.”
  • On Rizzo’s success thus far and his future potential: “We believe Anthony has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order run producer for the Cubs for a very long time. We believe he still has some development left. We feel what he’s done at age 20 at Double A and age 21 at Triple A was remarkable.”
  • On the plan at first base for 2012: “The way we see it is Bryan [LaHair] had a terrific year last year in Triple-A and has been terrific this year in Venezuela. We see him as our first baseman. It’s likely Anthony will start the year in Triple-A.” For my part, I’m pretty pleased with the plan. Not only could Rizzo use a little more time in AAA to work on his swing, this gives the Cubs a chance to get a long, serious look at LaHair without impeding any other moves. While I was not in favor of LaHair getting the nod at first base instead of the Cubs seeking out a more established or higher upside option, now that they’ve got Rizzo in the fold for the long-term, I’m pleased as punch to let LaHair get his shot, however unlikely the odds of success. Why not?
  • On what happens if Rizzo tears it up in Spring Training: “I’m never going to say never [with respect to Rizzo winning the first base job in Spring Training]. But that’s not the plan we are going into Spring Training with. In general, I think winning jobs in Spring Training is a very dangerous thing. That’s especially true with hitters in Arizona. The ball really flies there. A lot of hitters look good. A lot of things can deceive you in Arizona. The plan is that Bryan LaHair will be our first baseman and that Anthony will be in Iowa.” If the memory of Scott McClain teaches you anything, it is this very point that Jed is making.
  • On Rizzo’s struggles in the big leagues last year, when he was called up at just 21: “To be candid, I don’t think I did Anthony any favors when I was the GM of the Padres. We called him up because we weren’t getting any first base production in San Diego. It was too early, and a mistake on my part, and I don’t think I did Anthony any favors there.”
  • On the move toward younger players: “Any time you go with young players, it’s the right thing to do. It’s exciting to have young talent in an organization, but there’s no doubt that with young talent comes an adjustment period. The best prospects get through that adjustment period and they take off. It’s nice to have a team with upside, and you know that when they do go through that adjustment period, and can get past it, they can explode. With young players, there does come growing pains. It’s definitely something we’re prepared to deal with, and frankly, it’s the only way to rebuild a great organization … to have the patience to go through that with the right players.” That is an excellent attitude, and one that I hope fans take to heart. There’s a bright future ahead, but it is the future. There will be bumps.

As for Rizzo, he’s excited to be a part of what the Cubs are growing.

  • On reuniting with Hoyer, McLeod (and Epstein): “I got called up to the big leagues last year and struggled a little bit. I wouldn’t say some people wrote me off, but some people I guess lost some faith in me. For them to still have that faith, with everything they helped me through, it just shows me how loyal they are and how honored I am to play for them …. This is such a big business. I’ve seen it now for the last five years how much of a business it is. Everyone I’ve spoken to talks about how professional Theo is, how straightforward he is with everyone. It means a lot to me to be with them again.”
  • On his expectation after the Padres traded for first baseman Yonder Alonso: “I figured something would happen, but I wasn’t completely sure. I just went on with my offseason and trained as hard as I’m training to prepare for next year, wherever it was. Now I’m a Cub and hopefully will remain a Cub for many years to come.”
  • Fishin Phil

    I am still giddy!

  • Cheryl

    Sounds good. At least LaHair gets a shot at the Big Leagues and he deserved that after the September he had.

  • arealpoy

    I think people really forget how professionalism and the right attitude can lead to a successful organization. When Epstein came to town, he hit the nail on the head by talking about a “Cubs way”. Adding pieces that change the way our clubhouse operates is a fantastic start.

    What we’re all seeing here is a change in the way this franchise does business. I think that’s a great thing…as our old way of thinking has done us no favors. The fans told TR they weren’t happy with the way the organization was being run and he’s made wholesale changes. It’s refreshing to see a new direction.

    I don’t have blind faith in Epstein, Hoyer and Mcleod. I do like to see a new process at work though. Slow build is better than putting band aids on bullet wounds. 90% of us will agree with that.

    • Ron

      I basically put a band aid on a bullet wound once…dude got shot in the ass and it wasnt really bleeding. Later I tried to pull it out but it was too deep. I could have cut it out but chose antibiotics and a slow closure by packing the track. Got a really cool video though. But to your point, it generally doesn’t work.

      • cls

        See, replies like this are why you have to love Bleacher Nation. :)

  • Rooster

    Why do I waste my time with the Tribune. The responders on that site are 95 percent Sox fan. The jerk brought up Lymphoma. For someone who has ZERO knowledge of the disease or treatment he went on to say, “all it takes is one cancer cell!”. I had lymphoma TWICE and underwent a BMT. I’m doing fine. I’m going to go out and buy a RIZZO jersey after hearing about this trade. He’ll be fine for years to come. I can’t wait to see him retire a Cub. ALLSMILES was this idiots username. I would like to sit down and have a cup of coffee with ppl like this. Knowing the treatments that Rizzo underwent I have even more respect for his wll and toughness. Rizzo will be a solid fixture at 1st and I love the idea of O’Haire moving to left. Concentrate on the pitching and the Cubs will be fine. Theo and Jed have done a great job in turning the Cubs upside down. Great moves.

    • JR1908

      Great points Rooster. It’s exciting to have a person/player like RIzzo come over to help change the culture of the Cubs!!

    • rcleven

      Sorry to hear about the cancer. I am 59yrs old, dont have many heros in my life. I do have one though.A 2yr old nephew with nuro blastoma. To put life in perspective baseball is only a game for our entertainment. The real hero’s doctors,hospital workers,drug developers.A 2year old trying to kick it.

    • King Jeff

      I had no idea that he was recovering from cancer when he started pro ball.  This guy seems like a great person, with great makeup, hopefully his work ethic and approach to life rub off on his teammates throughout the organization.  I’ve had several family members fight through cancer, and a few die from it, and I will never doubt anyone who has overcome the disease.  If anything, you know this kid is never going to give up.  I can’t wait to see him in Chicago.

  • Brian Peters

    I’m so excited for this kid…….and for us.

  • EtotheR

    Sounds awesome…plus, if LaHair turns into something reasonable, we might be able to trade him for more pieces.

    Also…for as much as we talk about Theo (and I love him as much as anyone), how about Jed Hoyer? Sounds like he’s an awfully classy act.

    • jr5

      One of my favorite random facts about Hoyer is that he played on the same Cape Cod team as Mark DeRosa.

  • rcleven

    Great to see LaHair get the chance to play in the bigs. I think some people will pleasantly surprised with his production. Will there be growing pains? Yes. I hope he can make it a very difficult decision to move him from 1st.

  • #17

    Aside from getting Prince, this is probably next best scenario. What I love most about this trade is that Rizzo was the centerpiece of the Adrian Gonzalez trade and just a year later we basically get him straight up for Cashner. Best thing I see from Theo and Jed is that they’re not just talkin about improving like the previous regime, but it appears they have a clear vision and take ACTION instead of waiting around to see what comes our way. If we end up trading Garza now, our farm system will have improved dramatically from last season, if we haven’t already. Jed named his son who was just born “Beckett”, the guy has to love baseball and so do we as huge fans of BLEACHER NATION. Oh yeah, this just in, Phil Rogers still blows dogs for quarters!!

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      Or he loves overrated annoying writers who don’t know how to end a sentence (well, at least in one novel).

  • Dan0mite

    I know this is a typo, but I love this line. “We still has some development left.”. It just made me smile. To the point of Lahair; what happens if he destroys it as the first baseman? Do they trade him when Rizzo is ready? Or, do they hold off Rizzo’s emergence from the minors?

    • cls

      It’s a good problem to have.

    • scorecardpaul

      I love all of the moves, and yes, I could be to much of an optimist, but don’t worry about having to many good players for one position.  This is major league baseball. it is not easy, or we would all be playing the game.  We have a bunch of kids who have little or no experience in the bigs.  Love it, and be very excited, but don’t start talking silly like this.  We have more things to worry about besides what will we do with this guy if…

      JUST ENJOY for now,

      the future may present us with a good, and unusual problem for Cub fans.  if our biggest concerns are having to many good players for a position, well, that would be a great problem, and it would be an asset

    • miggy80

      If LaHair tears it up and Rizzo progresses to MLB ready by mid season. LaHair could be very valuable to someone in the playoff chase and would be nice to see LaHair get that shot and help us out in the long run. Shaping up to be a interesting season.

  • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

    It’s all about acquiring assets. If Lahair does well we have another piece to utilize, either as a continued part of the Cubs or in a deal to address a need other than first base. And look at all the teams that make trades based on contracts – everyone eating salary, having to hang onto players they don’t want, taking lesser players to obtain salary relief, etc – this is was a big move but even the smaller ones are setting us up to be in good shape to make future deals.

    Keep acquiring those assets!

    • farmerjon

      amen

  • pfk

    Anybody read Gordon W’s negative attitude this morning about the Cubs? He must wake up depressed every day. This was a good trade and I for one look forward to seeing the kids play. They’ll make mistakes but they’ll hustle, which even Sveum says they lacked when they played the Brewers. I’d much rather pay to see a group headed in the right direction than a bunch of overpaid losers.

    • King Jeff

      I quit reading anything Wittenmeyer writes a long time ago.  I’m not sure if he or Rosenbloom are worse.  I agree with everything you said.

    • MoneyBoy

      pfk – Shame on you for wasting time reading that waste of time.  You should know better.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    I had a dream last night of Fatty and Greedy (Fielder and Boras) standing by the roadside hitch-hiking and no-one stopped to pick them up

  • CubFan Paul

    it would be nice to see LaHair hit .285/.380/500 with 6-10ish HRs &40plus RBI in April and May to make this trade more awesome. Rizzo’s arb clock would start later, but i dont think LaHair would have *any* trade value til the end of the season or July of 2013.

    LaHair is awful in the outfield and i dont know if Rizzo can play another spot but this is the kind of problem the cubs need to have (LaHair being uber successful with rizzo waiting).

    here’s to LaHair mashing in the Majors like he has an aluminum bat!

    • scorecardpaul

      Has Rizzo’s arb clock already started??

      not sure how that works,  he already has MLB experience with San Diego

      • MoneyBoy

        yup – he’ll be on the 40 man roster – Cates won’t

      • jayandersonjr81

        His clock started when he hit the majors. It called service time. Not really concerned about Arb. More concerned about free agency. If he doesn’t come up til, let’s say June, well have the rest of the season, plus 5 more years of control.

  • RWakild

    I hope Bryan LaHair gets a chip on his shoulder about the comment, “I’m pleased as punch to get LaHair his shot, however unlikely the odds of success, why not?” With his success last year and this winter, he deserves a chance. Am going to pick me up a LaHair jersey. Let the best man win.

  • Abe Froman

    RWakild, that statement was Brett’s opinion and not something Jed said. Due to his age and scouts/experts evaluations, it is a long shot, but I’m sure there aren’t any Cubs fans rooting for him to fail. Best to him and Rizzo.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If Jed ever says “pleased as punch,” he should be fired on the spot. Only folksy nerdy bloggers can say things like that.

      • Tommy

        LOL! Nice, Brett!

      • The Other Matt

        Are you saying folksy nerdy bloggers shouldn’t have an opportunity to be GM of the Chicago Cubs?

      • bluekoolaidaholic

        Why shucks!

  • ANKENYCUB

    I’d like to see Soriano moved this winter for the best offer we can get (even if that’s only 2M-3M in salary relief) . Start the season with LaHair at first and one of the backup outfielders filling the open outfield spot. If LaHair is able to hit, move him out to LF part-way into the season and bring up Rizzo for 1B.

    • rcleven

      Be careful what you wish for it just ………….

  • realist

    As a fan I am a huge fan of this trade and the way the new front office is handling their business. Picking up Rizzo is a great move. Getting that 3rd rounder with him is near genius. Zach Cates has had just one year in the minors and was the Padres #21 ranked prospect last year. I don’t know if shows up on this year’s list, but considering the Padres depth, #21 with the Pads ain’t bad at all. Plus Hoyer & Co. know him & drafted him. I just don’t get all the concern for LaHair though. Most fans had never even heard of him before this season. But now it’s like, everyone & his mother can’t wait for the guy to get his shot. Look, if he’s great in ST & does well during the season I’m all for it obviously. But despite what scouts say about him now, & what the irrationally silly Cubs fans think about him being treated fairly, he’s a huge long shot who’s 29 with some obvious holes in his game. Good luck but he’s a stopgap. Hopefully he can be our Andres Torres this year.

  • Tommy

    ANKENYCUB – I ‘m with you on moving Soriano at any cost, and I have the feeling that’s exactly what the Cubs are trying to do. I think having 3 years left on his contract at age 36 is definitely a hindrance to any discussions they’re having with other teams, though. I also think from what we’ve seen, they’re no doubt trying to dump him, but still get a young (25 years old or younger) player in return, even if it’s a lower prospect with some upside. That seems to be status quo from what we’ve seen so far from Theo and Jed. I just don’t know how you sell a 36 year old guy with 3 years left to any team, but apparently the Orioles are enquiring.

    As for LaHair playing left field goes – I wouldn’t count on that. The Cubs seem to really be focusing on defense/speed with some of the moves they’ve made and if I were a betting man, I’d expect to see Sappelt out in left field come opening day, unless of course, Jackson and Szczur both made the major league club out of spring training (which is highly unlikely from everything I’ve been reading).

  • Tommy

    LaHair most likely won’t be a Cub next year, regardless of how he performs, in my opinion. He can’t run, and his defense in the outfield is horrendous, so he won’t be moved there, and Rizzo is the future at 1st base and is guaranteed to get his shot. All you have to do is read a few articles and see the quotes by Theo, Jed, and McLeod to discern that.

    Best case scenario is LaHair absolutely tears it up this year and the Cubs trade him for a haul during the year, or next offseason. No matter what type of year he has, at age 29, he is not what the Cubs are looking for at 1st base. They’ve made it pretty clear that they are going with a youth movement, and I don’t think anyone over the age of 26 is safe.

  • Tscroggs88

    People saying they are going to go out and buy a LaHair or Rizzo jersey right now is just stupid. People need to relax a little bit here, I’m excited about the trade too.. But you don’t want to buy another jersey that will sit in your closet next to your soriano, Bradley and rich harden jersey. Let lahair and Rizzo duke it out and the better 1B will
    Naturally emerge

  • Roland Perrelli

    As a fan with expectations this is a bitter pill to swallow. It is good hopefully long term but the every season sacred comment sort of got flushed down the toilet with this move. This says we will not be competitive this year and next. Which sucks as a 42 yr old fan who is sick of waiting. I will feel better if we get solar and cespesdes. But with the way this off season is going I will be surprised if we get one. As currently constructed we will lose more games than last year with a much weaker division.

  • jayandersonjr81

    For people saying we will trade Lahair, remember its not always better to keep the better player. Let say we have a mediocre 3B and a bad pitching rotation(we do). If you have a top 15 first baseman and a top 3 first baseman(hypothetical). The top 15 1B might bring you a couple hit or miss prospects, but The top 3 1B might get you an all-star 3B and a potential frontline starter, then you trade The top 3 guy, and keep the middle of the pack 1B because it makes your overall team better. Not exactly the position we are in, just making a point.

  • Tommy

    I think it’s more about keeping the younger player than keeping the better player.

  • Pat

    I really like Jed’s comment regarding how handing out jobs based on spring training is a dangerous thing. Back end of the bullpen, sure go with the guy who’s hot. Any other position and it’s insane to hand out a job based on 50 at bats or 30 innings pitched. I really hope we’ve seen the last of those “competitions” for a while.

  • die hard

    Yeesh….annointing this poor kid as the savior is a little too much to bear and is putting too much pressure on this kid….keep him in the minors until he can field his position or learn to play the outfield and learns fundamental baseball and how to be an all round hitter unlike Pena and proves can hit all types of pitches….if hes a Sept call-up that would be progress and a reflection on his ability to contribute in 2013…..

  • Cubsin

    Roland, I’ve been a Cubs fan considerably longer than you’ve been on the planet. Waiting two or three years for a competitive team strikes me as an excellent idea. The last two seasons have convinced me that the Hendry approach of expensive free-agent band-aids will never work. If the front office can make our player development anywhere close to our player procurement excellence, we’ll be competitive every year beginning in 2013 or 2014.

    • http://BleacherNation Mugsy

      Couldn’t agree more, I went to my first game in 1962 with my dad and I still have the scorecard. My point is that I have seen the Cubs organization go in many ways but never in this direction. I like this direction and realize that as Cubs fans we need to be patient. Hope to see you in the streets dancing within the next five years!

  • Caleb

    I’d love for lahair and rizzo to both tear it up. Wouldn’t that be a great problem to have?

  • Rochester Cubs Fan

    Have been hearing all off-season how the Cubs bullpen is a strength of the team. After trading Cashner and Marshall is it still considered a strength? How many more relievers can we lose before it’s not a strength anymore?
    BTW, good job so far by Theo and Jed. Would have liked to have seen Fielder in the middle of the lineup but it’s always sweet to add prospects to the mix.

    • chris margetis

      Bullpen strength on a bad team is pretty meaningless and bullpens by nature are fairly fickle in performance. Turning that strength into a more solid base is exactly what they should be doing and they’ve done a hell of a job.

  • Rochester Cubs Fan

    I think with our collection of starters we are going to need all the bullpen we can get

  • Sam

    Let me just grade this trade …. I give it a C with a potential of an A+++ . Anthony Rizzo was A great kid when drafted and is a Fine young man so on character that alone is an A.The reason the Padres traded him is because they saw a flaw in swing – he has slow bat! he connects less on high velocity pitches and his groundball ratio increases when he can make contact. given that Rizzo is only 22 hopefully his bat speed is not at his ceiling. Bat speed is like a pitcher Velocity once you lose velocity its very hard to get back . Rizzo high strikeout rate was not because he was not a displine hitter it because he was behind on the count Can Rizzo hit 30 to 35 homeruns -yes indeed but he can also strike out and have a batting average of 220 to 235 .

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