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."
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 12:02 am
As I periodically do, a reminder: The term "Love Letters" is simply a tribute to a column in one of the newspapers I read as a young boy in Michigan, the Detroit Free Press. So if you're looking for something steamier, well, go to your local Congressman's office or something. ...
FROM: Karl T.
And it can be used for sooo many occasions.
FROM: Jeff A.
I'm shocked that you didn't mention Jose Reyes. He may be the best player in baseball at this time. Give the man his props. He is doing more than any of the guys you mentioned. Those guys don't glove as well as he does. The man has what, 33 multiple hit games. Other ball players are awed by him.
FROM: Rich B.
As a Red Sox fan, I was torn when they made the Adrian Gonzalez trade. I mean, I knew we were getting a great power hitter, but I had my reservations about the trade for two reasons: 1. I didn't want to give up Casey Kelly, and, 2. I didn't like that the Sox were blocking Lars Anderson's path to the majors. So ... now I'm not sure if I was right for the wrong reasons, or what!
Listen, Anthony Rizzo is going to be a good player. But few are ever going to be Adrian Gonzalez. So stop beating yourself up and put your mind to use on the next big dilemma of our time: Five Guys Burgers and Fries or In-N-Out?
Should we really be all that surprised about the Indians collapse? Let's be honest, they were a nice feel-good story to start the year, but now their lack of talent is finally catching up. There is no one in the rotation that is any more than a 3 starter, Shin-Soo Choo isn't hitting, Travis Hafner is hurt, and outside of Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana, I don't see much else talent-wise. The Indians have been overachieving all season.
But here's the thing: Choo should be hitting far better, and Carmona at times looks like a top-of-the-rotation starter. That said, the overachieving looks like ancient history.
You're right, the guy is unbelievable. He's hitting .372 in June alone at Triple-A Omaha. But he's a first baseman and Hosmer is at first. The Royals have too many good young players, and when was the last time you heard that?
I don't think so, not being that he's already 61. He's still got fire, though: I heard a rumor that he was recently suspended for three games for bumping an umpire during an argument.
FROM: Mike B.
I'm sure I'm not the only one to point this out to you, but just in case -- you do know that greater Bakersfield has a population of over 600,000 people, don't you? The only thing bush league about Bakersfield is Sam Lynn Ballpark. And the only thing preventing a new ball park is that little thing called the economy. To be honest, I haven't seen a tumbleweed around here for years.
I'll tell you this: There's nothing bush league about the Moo Creamery. That place can bring it. The Toasted Almond ice cream is incredible.
FROM: Barry W.
Also attending that dinner was Steve Carlton, and I just remember thinking what a huge difference there was between the two men not only in attitude but just the ability to be themselves around other people. I can tell you that it is a story I tell over and over, and it is one of my nicer memories. Our time here is short and the majority of us do not leave much behind, but a form of immortality can be living forever in someone else's stories and memories. Hopefully I am able to do justice to his memory each and every time I do tell that story. I can tell you that each and every time I tell the story, I do so with a genuine smile on my face. Thanks for the column.
That is a fabulous story. And thanks for telling it now.
FROM: Jay D.
I remember meeting Mr. Killebrew as a youngster before a Cleveland Indians' game, and even though I wore the hat of the opposing team, he was SO nice, SO gracious! I have tried to keep the exactly same smile and the exact same attitude toward kids that he did. He may have been small, but, the sporting world lost a true GIANT.
"Listed at 6-feet, 190 pounds, until cancer slipped a final fastball by him Tuesday. ..." Really? A man loses his life to cancer, and you're making baseball metaphors? I typically enjoy your columns but this line is unprofessional, disrespectful and a literary stretch I'd more likely expect to find in a high school publication.
The man spent his entire life playing baseball, involved in baseball, and is a Hall of Famer. What should I be doing, making roller derby metaphors?
FROM: Bill H.
Great piece on one of my first baseball heroes. I watched him play for the old Senators and blossom into a tremendous slugger. Even when the Nats became the Twins and I couldn't stand them, I still rooted for Killebrew and followed his career closely. This is a genuinely sad day for baseball, one many modern fans may not understand.
Our responsibility is to help make them understand, my friend. Thanks.
Likes: Praise be for day baseball, the MLB Extra Innings television package and XM/Sirius radio broadcasting all those days. Because when I landed flat on my back, ill, Wednesday, with a fairly significant fever for the first frickin' time in 11 years, it sure was nice to have baseball on the telly. ... Pittsburgh -- the Pirates! -- at .500 on Wednesday, the latest point in the season they have not had a losing record since 1999. ... Midnight in Paris, the new Woody Allen movie. Not great, but entertaining. ... The slice of "royal wedding cake" I had in Kansas City last week in the hotel restaurant. There was some celebration going on downtown honoring the late Princess Diana and, in relation to that, the pastry chef at the hotel "recreated" the actual cake served at Diana and Charles' wedding back in 1984. It was sort of like carrot cake -- had that consistency -- only it was cinnamon-y. And the frosting was thick as bathtub caulk. It was delicious -- and the most expensive darned piece of cake I think I've eaten in my life ($8.75 a slice!).
Dislikes: Clarence Clemons, stroke victim. Many prayers for Bruce Springsteen's Big Man, who is fighting the battle of his life. Here's to the man who brought so much joy, soul and music to so many others.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"When the change was made uptown
-- Bruce Springsteen, Tenth Ave. Freeze-Out
Posted on: December 5, 2010 8:44 pm
After taking an unexpected detour Sunday afternoon when contract extension talks reached a stalemate at the 2 p.m. deadline, the Red Sox still finalized the deal about six hours later according to CBSSports.com sources.
Yes, the Padres are still receiving the same three prospects -- with a fourth player as a player to be named later -- in return: Pitcher Casey Kelly, power first baseman Anthony Rizzo and fleet center fielder Reymond Fuentes.
While multiple reports had the Red Sox talking with Gonzalez about a six-year extension after he earned $5.5 million -- as scheduled -- in 2011 and the first baseman wanting an eight-year deal, Boston now is content to allow the situation to ride into spring training.
Ostensibly, during the 48-hour weekend negotiating window allowed by major-league baseball, the Red Sox became satisfied that they will be able to strike a deal with Gonzalez.
By waiting to do so, Boston can benefit in two ways:
1. The Red Sox can wait until spring training and make sure that Gonzalez's surgically repaired right shoulder is sound. The surgery was not a major one, and the fact that Gonzalez underwent a battery of tests during his physical exam at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Sox are satisfied enough to still complete the trade speaks volumes.
2. By delaying a multi-year contract agreement, the Red Sox can escape paying luxury tax on what likely will wind up being be a seven-year deal deal worth somewhere between $22 and $24 million a year.
A formal announcement is expected on Monday.