Blog Entry

Another opening, another show for Rizzo

Posted on: January 6, 2012 3:51 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 4:12 pm
If Anthony Rizzo ever develops feet big enough for the shoes he's been supposed to fill over the past year ... well, he's going to have really, really big feet. And an All-Star career.

Last year, 22-year-old first baseman was the heir apparent to All-Star Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego.

Friday, he became the heir apparent to All-Star Prince Fielder in Chicago.

Well, not technically. Fielder never did play for the Cubs. But Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, Wrigleyville's new Glimmer Twins, effectively bowed out of the free-agent bidding for Fielder on Friday by acquiring Rizzo and minor-league pitcher Zach Cates from the Padres for right-hander Andrew Cashner and minor-league outfielder Kyung-Min Na.

The deal essentially brands Rizzo as the Cubs' first baseman of the future.

And however serious the Cubs were -- or weren't -- regarding Fielder, the nature of this winter will leave Rizzo attached to the Former Fresh Prince of Milwaukee regardless.

If Rizzo blossoms into a star, Cubs fans in the future will be heaving sighs of relief that their club didn't fork over half the franchise to Fielder.

If Rizzo flops, the Cubs will be answering pointed questions about their non-pursuit of Fielder for years.

Now, all Rizzo must do is grow into the role ... which is what Hoyer and Cubs assistant GM Jason McLeod had planned for Rizzo a year ago when the two executives were working for the Padres and acquired him from the Red Sox in the monster Gonzalez deal.

This is the second time Hoyer and McLeod have placed their bets on Rizzo in just over a year.

Now, it's up to Rizzo.

At Triple-A Tucson last summer, he was one of the most feared hitters in the game: .331, 26 homers, 101 RBIs, a .423 on-base percentage and a .652 slugging percentage.

But when he was summoned to San Diego in June to help boost an anemic lineup, Petco Park swallowed him whole. In 49 games (153 plate appearances), he batted .141 with one homer and nine RBIs.

"To be candid, I don't think I did Anthony any favors last year," Hoyer said on a conference call Friday afternoon. "He was leading Triple-A in RBIs by 20 percent and I called him up ... too early. It was a mistake on my part. I don't think I did Anthony any favors there."

Citing Rizzo's need for further development, Hoyer said he expects Bryan LaHair to open at first base for the Cubs and Rizzo to start at Triple-A Iowa come opening day.

Rizzo was rated this month as the No. 1 prospect in the Padres' system by Baseball America. He became expendable when San Diego acquired Yonder Alonso, also a left-handed hitting first baseman, from the Reds in the Mat Latos trade.

"This is now the third organization Jason and I have been in with Anthony, which speaks to how much we think of his ability and character," Hoyer said. "We expect him to be a middle-of-the-order run producer for a long time."

The Cubs steadfastly have not commented on Fielder this winter. As Hoyer said Friday when asked about a couple of potential Cuban free agents, "Discussing any free agent is something we're not going to do."

Dig the franchise out of its century-long World Series drought with big spending -- at least, right now -- is something Epstein, Hoyer and Co. are not going to do, either.

"Anytime you go with young players, it's the right thing to do," Hoyer said. "It's exciting to have young talent in the organization.

"There's no doubt that with young talent comes an adjustment period. ... It's nice to have a team with that upside because when you pass it, it can really explode.

"With young players comes growing pains and that's something we're prepared to deal with. ... The only way to be a great organization is to go through growing pains with young players and get to the end of that tunnel."


Since: Mar 19, 2008
Posted on: January 9, 2012 12:30 pm

Another opening, another show for Rizzo

hooligan, bryan lahair is too old to be the first baseman of the future. a short term fill in for a year or two? yeah, that could work but only short term. if the Cubs were going to try Lahair it should have been 3 or 4 years ago.

Since: Jan 26, 2007
Posted on: January 8, 2012 9:58 am

Another opening, another show for Rizzo

Every year, I have optimistic hopes of the Cubs playing better baseball. The Cubs seem to every year have older players in the downsides of their careers. I feel being optimistic with young unproven players is such a breath of fresh air for the Cubs fans. New, young talent is going to make this year enjoyable to me as a Cubs fan.

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: January 7, 2012 11:17 am

Another opening, another show for Rizzo

Why is it that no one seems to believe in Bryan LaHair?  I see him a lot like Ryan Howard in that he gets his chance late in his career.  Of course Howard was trapped behind Jim Thome, while LaHair was trapped behind.................... well.......... bad management maybe.

Perhaps the best news for Cbbiies fans would be LaHair making Rizzo expendable.  

Since: Apr 17, 2008
Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:03 am

Another opening, another show for Rizzo

When the Cubs win that elusive championship in a few years & then become a force to be reckoned with, this might be the deal that showed they were serious about the long view.  Signing Prince would have been a great move & actually atypical of the Cubs since he's still young, but this is not necessarily the time when they are trying to win the championship.  Right now it's about fixing years of problems with this team (some would say the residue of over 100 years of bad management) & challenging in a couple of years is going to require some well-placed resources, which Prince's contract would have made less available.  The Cubs have resisted the term rebuilding & this is not a popular move in Chicago, but if you want to win actual championships it is occasionally necessary to retool.  That being said, this is going to be the most fun to watch of any Cubs team for years & their division is very winnable, even for the new-look Cubs.


Since: Nov 24, 2008
Posted on: January 6, 2012 7:24 pm

Another opening, another show for Rizzo

Another bad trade by the Padres.  Why do you give up on a 21 year old with incredible power that has been great in all levels of minor league baseball.  When Adrian first came up with the Rangers he was batting .221 and look where he is today.  Still ticked off about the Matt Latos trade also. 

For Christmas I received tickets to the Padres games from my wife.  Wife indicated that 4 different people who she did not know gave her crap about buying those tickets because the Padres will be terrible this year and they have a joke of an ownership group.  Their commments where Ownership is clueless and cheap.  I have to agree they are cheap and now I agree they are clueless also.  Wish they would sell the team because it is reminding me of the joke of the ownership of the Werner Group 16 years ago.   Next up will be Headly for more minor leaguers.  It is really sad to be a Padre fans these day.  At least the Aztecs are competitive in Football and Basketball.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: January 6, 2012 4:56 pm

Another opening, another show for Rizzo

Finally.  A front office that doesn't follow the same old, losing formula.  It appears that we are finally going to witness a team that will be evaluated on performance over payroll.  Not the other way around.  I can only hope that Soriano will be next.  Nice guy, but the complete antithesis of what Epstein and Hoyer are trying to put together.  Growing pains?  Sure, but an opportunity for the fans to watch young, hungry kids.

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