Is that Anthony Rizzo?

The offseason is a time of hope, joy, and positive feelings about your team, no matter how bad they were the previous season. This week’s Muskbox echoes that sentiment with happy thoughts of Anthony Rizzo, Paul Maholm, and Derrek Lee! Because the Muskbox is where dreams go TO DIE. Sorry it’s not dumber, but people want to know what direction the team is headed for 2012. No answers are forthcoming. SPOILERS.

I’ve read all the reports about the Cubs going after or not going after Prince Fielder.

/Googles “chicago cubs prince fielder”
/gets 904,000 results


One player I would like to see them go after is Anthony Rizzo, from San Diego.

I don’t know much about him as a player, but he sounds like he makes one HELL of a pizza.

With Mat Latos traded to the Reds, the Padres have Yonder Alonso and Rizzo at first. I could see the Cubs potentially trading a couple of young arms and/or Josh Vitters for him.

Literally. Two dismembered arms and Josh Vitters.

Agree? He was drafted by Mr. Epstein & Co. in Boston.
— Jake B., DeKalb, Ill.

And he was wearing a shirt from Sears Roebuck & Co. in Tucson!

CARRIE: Good observations.

Thanks, my forbidden love.

CARRIE: Rizzo was a sixth-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft by the Red Sox — and Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were in Boston’s front office at that time.

FINALLY. A Muskbox that allows me to use my “Jason McLeod” tag.

CARRIE: In December 2010 he was dealt to the Padres in the blockbuster Adrian Gonzalez deal. Now Rizzo, 22, finds himself No. 3 or 4 on the Padres’ depth chart at first base after the Reds-Padres deal on Saturday in which San Diego acquired Alonso, pitcher Edinson Volquez and two Minor Leaguers in exchange for Latos.

And if you add, 2, 2, 3, and 4, you get 11. Which is the number Jacque Jones wore when he was with the Cubs. And if you’ve been closely following Jacque Jones’ career, as I have, you’d know that he was recently hired to be a minor league hitting coach with…THE SAN DIEGO PADRES. Seriously. It’s all coming together.

/replaces tin foil hat with two-ply tin foil hat

CARRIE: This year Rizzo batted .452 with six homers in his first 15 games…

…and the Padres realized that 15 games are a ridiculously small sample size, and they weren’t desperate to prove that they didn’t need Adrian Gonzalez, so they left him down in the minor leagues, allowing him to continue to develop as a young player. THE END

CARRIE: …was called up to the Padres in June and batted .143 in 35 games.


CARRIE: He was then recalled in September and finished with a .141 average in 49 games. At Triple-A Tucson he hit .331 with 26 homers and 101 RBIs.

Wow. He hit worse in his second stint? SOLD.

CARRIE: Rizzo and Cubs outfielder Tony Campana have something in common…

Neither one of them is ready for the Major Leagues?

CARRIE: …as Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May 2008 and was successfully treated with chemotherapy. McLeod once said that Rizzo has the best makeup of any player he’s ever drafted.

Which explains a fair amount about the players that Jason McLeod likes.

CARRIE: On Saturday, Jim Bowden of and MLB Network Radio tweeted that the Padres have some interest in acquiring Matt Garza from the Cubs in a package that would include Rizzo. The Cubs would have to be overwhelmed to part with Garza — and receive a package of players similar to what the Padres got from the Reds. Epstein has said that Garza is the type of pitcher to build around.

“No, no, no. Not for US to build around. For YOU to build around.”

CARRIE: Or the Cubs could give Bryan LaHair the first-base job. LaHair hit a two-run homer, his 10th, in Magallanes’ 8-0 win over Caribes on Saturday in Venezuelan Winter League play.

Arriba Navegantes!

Why not bring back Derrek Lee?

No. He’s bad now.

He hit close to .320 while with the Pirates last season and could provide great leadership. He wouldn’t cost much, and he and LaHair could split time.
— Chris B., St. Louis

St. Louis, eh? What a clever way to even the NL Central playing field, CARDINALS FAN.

CARRIE: Lee did bat .337 with the Pirates, but that was in 28 games (101 at-bats), and it followed an 85-game stint with the Orioles in which he hit .246. As much as I like his Gold Glove defense at first, he hit .251 in his last season with the Cubs (2010), ground into 23 double plays and batted .234 for the season with runners on base. Last season he hit .214 with runners on, and .206 with runners in scoring position.

So, he’s bad now. Check.

I have not seen anything on who the Cubs gave up for Theo and Co. Do you know or have some idea on who we lost?
— Ken D., Chattanooga, Tenn.

They’re still trying to figure out how exactly they’re going to fleece the Red Sox and Padres.

CARRIE: The compensation matters — between the Cubs and Red Sox for Epstein, and the Cubs and Padres for Hoyer — have not been resolved.

Again, they probably should have settled on some sort of compensation BEFORE they let them go.

What are the Cubs doing about adding rotation depth? There are some quality pitchers out there who could end up playing for pretty cheap. I could see guys like Joel Pineiro, Joe Saunders and Paul Maholm flourishing with the Cubs. Are the Cubs looking at anyone in particular?
— Adam N., Elkhart, Ind.

To which quality pitchers out there were you referring?

CARRIE: There are reports that the Cubs are talking to Maholm’s representatives.

Go read all of them, smart guy.

CARRIE: The lefty, who has a 6-2 record and 5.48 ERA in 11 career starts at Wrigley Field, became a free agent when the Pirates chose to not pick up his option for 2012. Pineiro, 33, went 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA last season for the Angels. He is 19-12 with a 3.94 ERA in 39 starts against National League Central teams. Saunders went 12-13 with a 3.69 ERA in 33 starts with the Angels. As for who the Cubs are eying (sic) — and how you define “cheap” — the front office is keeping the search very private.

Theo Epstein doesn’t want to talk to Carrie. Aww.

What are the chances that the Cubs made an offer for Yu Darvish? Grabbing a potential solid starter for a while is what the Cubs are looking for, right? How much does Kosuke Fukudome’s production weigh in on a decision like Darvish?
— Justin M., Washington

Well, they’re two completely different people playing two completely different positions. Just because they’re from the same general area doesn’t mean they’ll have the same ability. Although, it played out that way for Fontenot and Theriot.

CARRIE: The Cubs did bid but the winner of the Darvish derby has yet to be announced. Fukudome, 34, and Darvish, 25, are completely different, and keep in mind that Epstein does have experience with Japanese pitchers and is very familiar with the process, having successfully bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka in Boston.

Which worked out marvelously. What I’m saying is, I’m okay with the Cubs losing out to Texas on the Darvish bidding.

Is Andrew Cashner going to be healthy, and do you think he’ll be in the starting rotation in 2012?
— Stan M., Tampa, Fla.

Yeah, SOMEONE is going to have to pitch for them this year, right?

CARRIE: Cashner showed that his shoulder has recovered during a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. As to whether he’ll start or pitch out of the bullpen, that may not be determined until Spring Training. Hoyer has said that Cashner can do either. Hopefully, Cashner’s shoulder can handle a starter’s workload.

Or at least more than 11 innings, or so.

When was the last time the Cubs had a Rule 5 pick stick on their roster for a full year? I think Jeff Stevens did a few years ago, but that was only because they were able to put him on the disabled list midseason and never reactivated him.
— Steve M., Albuquerque, N.M.

Oh, God, I know exactly where this is going. SHIELD YOUR EYES.

CARRIE: Actually, David Patton was the Cubs’ last Rule 5 pick, selected in the December 2008 Draft, and he missed time because of a severe groin injury.

That’s how I missed most of my high school years.

CARRIE: The Cubs acquired Stevens from the Indians in December 2008, in the Mark DeRosa deal. Earlier this month the Cubs selected recently converted right-hander Lendy Castillo from the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft. In 38 Minor League games, Castillo went 7-4 with a 2.43 ERA after being converted from a shortstop after the 2009 season.

Also, Rule 5 draftees generally blow. That’s why they’re Rule 5 draftees.

How many times in Cubs/White Sox history have both teams started the season with a new manager?
— Dan B., Evergreen Park, Ill.

Who the hell cares? Other than Ed Hartig, of course.

CARRIE: I counted nine times, most recently in 1992, when Jim Lefebvre and Gene Lamont were the new managers on the North Side and South Side, respectively. This year will be the 10th, with Dale Sveum and Robin Ventura.

Who could forget the Jim Lefebvre and Gene Lamont Golden Era in Chicago?