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anthony rizzo matt garza pie faceOne small part of office life I miss is the annual March Madness stuff. Pitching $5 into a pot and filling out a bracket. Sneaking some online viewing time in between projects. I could still do that stuff, obviously, but it’s not quite the same. Candidly, I also haven’t followed college basketball closely in about three years.

  • Matt Garza tells Gordon Wittenmyer that he is “going to try to kick [the Cubs’] teeth in every time I get a chance,” which is what you would expect from an opponent. A tip for the Cubs? Bunt it. Repeatedly.
  • Garza says that he was told by the incoming front office that, because they were rebuilding and because he hadn’t accepted an extension offer, he should not “get too comfortable.” It’s framed in the article like a bad thing (I can’t tell if that’s just editorial license or if Garza was actually upset by it), but isn’t that what you’d want your bosses to do if they knew they were going to trade you? Isn’t that the person-to-person nice thing to do? I guess the flip side is that it could be a distraction as you try and perform, but wouldn’t it be a worse distraction to see the constant rumors and hear nothing from the front office?
  • Fans – of the Cubs, other teams, and baseball in general, probably – keep on coming out to Cubs Park in droves. Already having broken its own Cactus League record several times this year, the Cubs broke it again yesterday against the Dodgers with a whopping 15,191. Attendance figures to continue its marked slide in Chicago this year, but at least the Cubs are seeing a little bump in Arizona. They’re going to blow away the Cactus League season record this year, at least on a per-game basis (they lost a game to a rainout, which hurts the total).
  • The rotation to follow Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija will be Travis Wood and then Edwin Jackson (Cubs.com), which rounds out that opening series in Pittsburgh. The last two spots in the rotation will go to Jason Hammel and one of James McDonald, Chris Rusin, and Carlos Villanueva, most likely. Hammel is your likely Wrigley Field opening day starter.
  • Jake Arrieta, who will be the fifth starter when healthy, threw his third mound session of the Spring, and hopes his next appearance comes in live batting practice. (Carrie Muskat)
  • Jon Heyman compiles offseason winners and losers, good deals and bad deals, etc. It’s an extremely extensive piece, mentioning virtually everything that happened this offseason. The Cubs are mentioned … zero times. That’s pretty much the Cubs’ offseason in a nutshell: not terrible, considering the state of things, but pretty much not worth mentioning at all.
  • Tony Andracki profiles Nate Schierholtz.
  • ssckelley

    All the Cubs have to do in order to improve the attendance at Wrigley is call up Baez.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      heh, the sad (or maybe not so sad) truth is that the vast majority of fans really know almost nothing about their teams’ farm systems.

      After 2008, I think that the only thing that will improve attendance is putting a competitive team on the field.

      • MightyBear

        Cub fans aren’t typical baseball fans. Cub fans tend to be more knowledgeable than most baseball fans. Everyone I know including the casual fans knows who Baez is. He would create some buzz. FYI, the Cubs will put a competitive team on the field.

        • candyland07

          I gotta laugh – Team Epstein has not put a competitive team in Chicago Nor is he actually trying too. this year is no exception . Draft wise is A different story- every team drafts players . The Cubs should excel in this area in part because the closer a team pick to the number one draft slot ,the better the chance of that particular player advancing to Major league level. The players the Cubs draft between the 3rd round and beyond will give the team the talent ,they need to do what is needed to be a powerful team through trades and promotions.

          Team Epstein came to Chicago and pushed the reset button. And once that reset button was pushed and became a plan- The Cubs were gonna be terrible. Theo can be many things but stupidity is not one of them. Eventually when the team can compete- MR. Epstein had better produce – its one thing to endure losing seasons with promises of a brighter future its gonna get old in about a year or two. but your dont kid yourself the present sucks .and its been sucking for three years this being the fourth for the Cubs that actually take the field in Chicago and its fans

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            If Mr. Ricketts doesn’t get his business plan executed this year you may well see Theo riding off into the sunset.

            • candyland07

              I don’t think so , Don/t it seem like the Business plan and the Baseball plan kinda go together . Promises of complex modern state of the art entertainment/ sport / hotel / center that will provide fans and players the modern luxury of enjoying a baseball game while rebuilding a franchise from the ground up through the draft . All that takes time and both are doing well in that aspect with a few minor setbacks. Eventually both plans will become a reality- its the time process of losing . heck when The Cubs begin to win the fan will flock and frack to buy tickets and even if for some strange reason The cubs fail in the rebuild- Mr Ricketts will still rake in the money at Clark and Addison and winning may be an afterthought of possibilities.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I never go by the “everyone I know” criterion: like all people, I non-randomly associate with people like myself. (Let’s just say that the people with whom I associate don’t fit standard American demographics in just about anything!) And although I don’t buy into the other stereotype about Cubs fans (i.e., a bunch of ignoramuses who really root for Wrigley rather than the team), I don’t think that we are any better informed than other fans. We probably have more informed fans than most fan bases, but that’s just because only the Sox and Yanks have bigger fan bases, and X% of a lot is more than X% of not a lot.

          And although Patrick W. is correct that it is easier than every before to get information about minor leaguers, I am skeptical that most people put in the effort to learn these things. After all, any effort is infinitely more than no effort: and most people are good for no effort unless they really care!

          • Funn Dave

            Idk, I think I have to disagree a bit. I’m not saying Cubs fans are smarter or are better baseball fans that those other other teams. But I do think that now that the major league team blows, fans have been increasingly aware of what’s going on with the Cubs’ top prospects. When Theo tells us that the team might stink right now but the players we’ve been drafting and otherwise acquiring who aren’t currently at the MLB level promise a very bright future, it’s only natural to wonder who those players are & how they compare to other teams’ top prospects.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              We also were talking a lot about it 10 years ago when the Cubs were a good team. The commonality is that the farm system had a lot of highly rated prospects then and now. After all, even if your team is good now, it usually projects to needing key replacements over the next 3+ seasons: and as the last few winters have shown, you cannot count on the necessary replacement parts becoming available as FAs.

      • Patrick W.

        I don’t think that majority is as vast as you think. Today’s fan has incredible access to information that didn’t exist even 5 years ago. The Cubs Facebook page has just under 2 million likes and one or both of Javy Baez and Kris Bryant has shown up on that page 17 times in the last month. I think in 2009 you were right but I’m not so sure 2014 fan is as farm team ignorant as 2009 fan.

        • Funn Dave

          That’s a good point. The same goes for cubs.com–they rarely did puff pieces on prospects until a couple years ago, and now it seems like every other article is something to that effect.

    • Ballrock20

      If Castro does start off the season on the DL, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have Baez as the starting SS since the attendance numbers are down. Opening Day tickets are still available, so Baez definitely would get more fans interested. I understand there is value to having him start the season at Iowa, but can’t I hope that he gets to the majors sooner.

      By the way, I am a 1st time season ticket holder and love reading about the Cubs on this site. Keep up the good work!

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        That won’t happen. If Castro isn’t ready opening day I think Barney will start at SS and Valbuena/ Murphy at 2nd. That’s assuming that Olt is the 3rd. baseman on opening day, which seems more and more likely after last week. Baez’s arbitration date and super two staus is of value to this FO so just don’t get your hopes up. It has already definatively stated that he will open the year at AAA.

  • jp3

    That is an amazing gif of Garza, is there any way we could get the the price is right losing guess jingle on a loop whenever it zooms in on garza’s face?

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1ytCEuuW2_A

    • CubbiesOHCubbies

      If we are resurrecting any old price is right music, I vote for THIS one instead.
      http://youtu.be/YHv5jgXz9I8

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      In fairness to Garza, I seem to remember Frank Viola pitching a ball (literally, not a strike) somewhere out over first base… I can’t find it on YouTube. If anyone can, that’d be awesome. He went to pitch and somehow… the ball just traveled perpendicular to typical pitch trajectory… That pitch trumped Garza’s worst misthrows.

  • Spoda17

    … as we have learned, Garza wasn’t really a good teammate (but not terrible either). I am perfectly fine with him being on another team. I also feel he is going to struggle this year…

    • DocPeterWimsey

      When did we learn this?

      • half_full_beer_mug

        When guys like him made up that narrative, duh

      • Jon

        I don’t know about “bad teammate” exactly, but there were rumors that his personality was at times overbearing.

        When he went apeshit over the bunt thing with the A’s, didn’t that stunt kinda validate that?

    • candyland07

      For Garza to struggle he will have to pitch himself into that situation, overall his team should provide more runs , a slightly better defense so even if he struggles a bit ,his team is better prepared to bail him out of situations.
      Garza seems to be healthy Garza a gamer, he has attitude his intimation factors in at times and he also will start against the Cubs

      Unless Garza loses velocity from his fastball or play hurts this season – he will do fine – just playing against the Cubs should net two to three wins better this season not to mention a better record with the Brewers.Garza pitched well well in Wrigley Field but I think Miller Park will help him a bit.

      • Spoda17

        well, he got rocked to end the year, and I know spring is spring… he is struggling. Just my opinion, but I feel he is going to have a rough year.

        • candyland07

          yeah, Garza pitch a total of 4 bad games with the Rangers , The Angels and Rays killed him which can happen against powerful lineups and somehow he managed a win over the astros despite giving ups a bunch of runs in that game . He started 13 games for the rangers and he had 4 bad games 3 of them against powerful lineups.

  • Rebuilding

    Fangraphs Farm System Impact – Cubs come in at #4.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/ranking-the-minor-league-systems-by-impact-1-15/

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Strange they give minnesota the number 2 ranking knowing two of their biggest pieces are going to have Tommy John…and why is Olt still mentioned under the rangers? Either way the Cubs are near the top.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Tough talk from a guy that will be on the DL before the Allstar break!

  • Javier Bryant

    Can’t we just roll with 4 starters for a little while? I don’t really want to see McDonald or Rusin out there every 5th day

    • willis

      Man, you’re not kidding. We can pencil those games in as losses if they get the ball. If going with 5, may as well give it to Villanueva.

  • Diehardthefirst

    If keeping Shark would rather go with 6 starters so all can go 7 or more each time

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Rusin pitched very well his last outing. And there were games last year where he did a nice job too. Judging by McDonald’s last performance it is a no brainer to me. And we don’t go to four man rotation to start the season. My personal choice would be Hendricks, but it appears they are going to wait untill the mid-summer selloff before he gets a shot.

  • Ivy Walls

    Got to say I am excited about the prospects of watching the game this afternoon with poor weather arriving here on the Rocky’s front range.

    Okay, some thoughts about this and that.

    Next five games will tell us if Olt comes to north.

    Pitching, I think Hendricks is forcing the issue and barring a trade of Samardz (to Atl or Tor) keeps Carlos in the pen, not all bad at all. More importantly will be the bullpen as that will play into RR playing his entire bench. (Would you trade Samardz & AAA OF’er 1st Round choice like Szczur or Vitters or Jackson, or a Ha or Silva and a pitcher like Cabrera to Atlanta for Hayward and Sims or Graham, the move basically swaps 2 yr arb eligible players a throw-a-way prospect and prospecty pitcher w/o options for one of their better prospect pitchers) This would be a big move and the allow the Cubs to trade Schierholtz to Detroit for a pitcher like Ray.

    Castro, boy he appears to be talent never realized finding being fitted for another color scheme. Barney is not mentioned at all.

    I want to see Rizzo go opposite field more and want to Kalish play more.

    • sklucke

      Yea it to late for a 24 year kid like castro, it funny how you guys want castro gone so bad. A lot of other teams would take castro in a second but I guess getting rid of talented young players is why the cubs have not won in over a hundred years.

      • Ivy Walls

        he has not performed to the level of expectations

        • sklucke

          A kid who is a two time allstar and 300+ batting average and has more hits than some hall a famers at the same age has not met your expectations ? I’m glad your not the gm.

      • Henry Rowengartner

        It won’t be too long before people start turning on Rizzo as well.

    • aaronb

      Why on earth would Atlanta make that trade? Samjay would be their 4th starter. And at this point Heyward and Sims are both probably more valuable than Samjay.

      Vitters, Szczur, Jackson, Silva and Ha have zero trade value.

  • IndyCubsFan

    I actually think Garza had the most fun with the Cubs. Even if they were losing..

  • David

    When we really f’in good, I’m really gonna miss talking about these top prospects.

  • candyland07

    As a Cub .Garza seemed to love pitching in Wrigley Field. He pitched awesome in the ivy . He has always been outspoken. We will miss his production but the players we got in return was well worth him leaving. The Cubs are not empty handed because of him and in the end this is one player that played his heart out for the Cubs and his talent also let the Cubs get a bunch of players that will make the Cubs better .

    I hope we beat him – and it will feel good, but if he succeeds – well – it may just happen.

  • GoCubsGo

    We should do a BleacherNation bracket group. Could make it $5 to enter or could make it free, either way. Could be fun.

    • headscratchin

      This could make a great fundraiser for your next charitable effort, Brett. Proceeds could even go to support the charity of a certain grass eating quadruped who frequents this site.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Garza has always been such a drama queen. He got paid a ridiculous sum of money while spending a lot of time on rehab. Get over yourself big boy.

  • Funn Dave

    That Garza blunder is possibly my all-time favorite baseball gif. Makes me laugh every time.

  • Diehardthefirst

    There is nobody in the entire organization today that can lead a transformation from lovable losers to perennial winners… Say a Cabrera, Mantle, Musial, Mays, Spahn, Koufax, Jeter, Kershaw, Trout, Maddux, Pujols… Only possible hope today is Bryant

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Except that none of those guys led a perennial loser to a perennial winner, did they. In all cases (even Jeter!), the teams were good before they got there OR (for guys like Musial and Spahn) their teams never were consistently good.

      Really, the one player in baseball history who *might* have done that was Babe Ruth.

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