Cubs morning recap

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Cubs morning recap

With the new year fast approaching, Theo Epstein and his staff might be awfully busy, in addition to celebrating the new Cubs president's 38th birthday.

The little matter of Matt Garza's future hangs in the balance.

The Theo Trio could lock the energetic starter up with a long-term extension, of which the recent John Danks deal could be a good benchmark.

But if the front office decides trading the 28-year-old starter is the better option, where could he go? And could the trade wind up in the Cubs acquiring top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo, even if in a roundabout way?

Regardless of what happens with Garza, will Marlon Byrd be one of the Cubs on the way out of town this offseason? The Nationals and Red Sox could make nice suitors.

Then there's the not-so-small dealings of what Kerry Wood's future will be. It was assumed his signing with the Cubs was inevitable, but that may not be the case any longer.

If the Cubs are unable to get Rizzo, will Bryan LaHair get his shot at first base? And even if Rizzo does wind up on the North Side, could LaHair see a lot of playing time in the outfield in 2012?

While we're on the topic of trades, who are the guys Theo and Jed Hoyer absolutely, positively should not give up?

View from the Mooney

Theo and his posse aren't the only ones with work on their plate. As fans, you have to decide some things, too. Like what was the best Cubs moment in the 2011 calendar year? What was the worst?

Check out Patrick Mooney's incredible recap of the year that was for the Chicago Cubs. From the Carlos Silva blow-up in spring training to the Carlos Zambrano blow-up...well, all season...to Theo-mania on the North Side to Ron Santo's Hall of Fame selection, Mooney has it all.

His Year in Review: "We stinks" to "Theo-mania" is a must-read for all fans who even pretend to follow the Cubs.

Around the Web

Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue got to do something most bloggers only dream of -- he interviewed Tom Ricketts, the owner of the Cubs.

What resulted was an entertaining read for Cubs fans of an interview spanning topics such as the Theo Epstein hire to things on the business end of the franchise to baseball-related topics.

Check them all out here: Part I, Part II, Part III

From top to bottom, Cubs have all the pieces in place, including new deals for Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod

From top to bottom, Cubs have all the pieces in place, including new deals for Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod

CINCINNATI – From top to bottom, the Cubs now have all the pieces in place to make October baseball at Wrigley Field a reality, year after year, with family ownership, rock-star executives and blue-chip players.

“It’s nice to keep the band together,” manager Joe Maddon said, reacting to Friday’s announcement that general manager Jed Hoyer and scouting/player-development chief Jason McLeod had finalized contract extensions, matching up their timelines with team president Theo Epstein’s new monster deal through the 2021 season.

Those architects constructed what’s already a 102-win team, a division champion and the National League’s No. 1 seed, making the Cubs right now the biggest story in baseball, if not professional sports.

The lineup for a 7-3 win over the rebuilding Cincinnati Reds featured two MVP candidates (Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo), a 22-year-old All-Star shortstop (Addison Russell) and marquee free agents (Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler). The last two games of the regular season at Great American Ball Park will feature Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks making their final cases for the Cy Young Award. 

“It always starts with ownership and then it goes into the front office and eventually gets to us when you have that kind of stability,” said Maddon, who led a stunning turnaround with the Tampa Bay Rays despite all the uncertainty that came with small-market payrolls, a charmless domed stadium (Tropicana Field) and speculation about relocation and contraction.

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“We have a great product on the field,” Maddon said. “We have the best ballpark in the world. Our fans are spectacular. The city itself – there’s no more interesting place to live than Chicago. All those factors play into the success.

“I know in the past the Cubs haven’t been as successful as they wanted to be. But I don’t know that all the different ingredients have been put into place this well.

“So looking ahead, you just want to build off what you’ve done. Last year was a good building block coming into this year. And we want to keep moving forward. Of course, our goal is to play the final game of the year and win it. Under these circumstances, I think it becomes more believable on an annual basis.”

Since Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod reunited in the fall of 2011 – updating their World Series blueprints with the Boston Red Sox – the Cubs are just the third team in major-league history to win at least 100 games within four years of a 100-loss season. The Cubs have now qualified for postseason play in consecutive seasons for only the third time in franchise history.

“We had some good pieces,” chairman Tom Ricketts said. “But the organization itself was not in a position where you could believe that there was sustainability and consistency and success on the field. Obviously, Theo and the guys that he brought with him five years ago kind of took the organization down to the studs and started rebuilding.

“The time and energy to do it the right way has paid off with a team that should be successful for years to come.”

Morning Update: Cubs, White Sox cruise to 7-3 victories

Morning Update: Cubs, White Sox cruise to 7-3 victories

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