Will the Cubs deal Garza?

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Will the Cubs deal Garza?

Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein let word leak last week at the GM meetings in Milwaukee they would be interested in hearing offers on any player currently on the Cubs' roster. It was assumed Matt Garza and Starlin Castro would be the top two untouchables from the group, but maybe not any longer, as Ken Rosenthal tweets:

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Ken RosenthalRangers can't be ruled out on starters. Have shown strong interest in Garza in past. Cubs' new regime willing to move him. CubsMLB
Nov 22 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

Don't get carried away just yet. Rosenthal may be one of the best in the business, but he can't possibly have his hand on the pulse of Cubs beat completely while spending all his time nationally. In saying the new Cubs regime is willing to move Garza, that might be getting a bit ahead of himself.

I wouldn't put it past Jed and Theo to listen to offers on Garza, but to say they're willing to move him seems to be jumping the gun. It would likely take a small army of prospects or high-upside players to get the Cubs to move Garza, especially considering the old regime gave up three top prospects (Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer) from a shallow farm system to get the energetic pitcher to Chicago.

That being said, it was the old administration. Hoyer and Epstein don't have the same attachment to any players like Jim Hendry or anybody else would. And why would they? All they care about is getting the Cubs back to the World Series.

With regards to what the Cubs gave up to Tampa Bay for Garza, what's done is done and that's the way Theo and Jed are looking at it. They can't go back and re-do that trade. They can't turn the "force trades" option on like a video game. So why would they not at least entertain the option of trading Garza?

A team like Texas may be a perfect fit. After losing two straight World Series, they could be anxious to do anything they can to get over the hump in 2012. Maybe they give up too much for Garza because the pressure gets to them. It doesn't hurt Jed and Theo to listen to the offers.

But at the same time, both men have preached the Cubs' need for run prevention, namely pitching. How can they say that's the area with the biggest need for improvement for the team in 2012 and then trade away the team's best pitcher?

If Garza is traded, that would likely assume 2012 will be a rebuilding year. Hard to make the playoffs when you trade your ace.

Garza won't be 28 for another couple of days and is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He boasts four straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00 and a WHIP under 1.27. You can't give a guy like that up and hope to contend next year.

Then again, if Rosenthal is right, maybe Jed and Theo don't intend to contend in 2012.
That's kind of a scary thought.

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon's Washington itinerary didn't include an hour-long sit-down with Chuck Todd for NBC's "Meet the Press." There would be no rehashing the manager's Game 7 decisions as he stood outside the West Wing, though the second question during the media stakeout involved "last year's team" and how the 2017 Cubs are prepared to defend a World Series title.

"You're already there, huh?" Maddon said to a CNN reporter, minutes after President Barack Obama's final official White House event ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

But last year's team is gone — preserved now in highlight films and the hearts and minds of generations of Cub fans — even if so many familiar faces will be in Mesa when pitchers and catchers officially report to Arizona on Valentine's Day.

It would be impossible to replicate everything that made the 2016 Cubs so special. Baseball has its own relentless pace and the dynamics are constantly shifting. (Remember when players were passive-aggressively complaining about Maddon's spring-training approach during the final week of a 103-win regular season?) The clubhouse chemistry will inevitably feel different after climbing a Mount Everest of professional sports.

"A mind once stretched has a very difficult time going back to its original form," Maddon said. "We're motivated by it. We want to do it again, of course. There's no question we're trying to do that.

"I'm really leaning on the phrase or the thought of being uncomfortable. I want us to be uncomfortable. I think the moment you get into your comfort zone after having such a significant moment in your life like that, the threat is that you're going to stop growing.

"So I really want us to be uncomfortable. I really want to continue (to see) a pattern of growth and really try to get at them very quickly again."

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Can Jason Heyward recover from one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors last year? Is Willson Contreras ready to be a frontline catcher? Will Javier Baez have to adjust back to being a role player after becoming a playoff superstar? Does Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in a center-field timeshare represent an upgrade over Dexter Fowler?

If healthy, Wade Davis should be a trusted, lower-maintenance closer than Aroldis Chapman, with an advanced approach to pitching and more clubhouse presence. As a staff, the Cubs will have to bounce back from pitching into early November (or not, in the case of the relievers Maddon didn't trust during the playoffs).

As it stands, Jon Lester (33) and John Lackey (38) have already combined to throw almost 5,000 innings in The Show (including the postseason). Jake Arrieta will have to deal with the pressure of playing for his megadeal in his final season before becoming a free agent.

The drop-off after Mike Montgomery — and it's still mostly projected potential with the No. 5 starter — appears to be very steep in an organization that doesn't have any high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

After painting the bull's-eye on the chest and turning "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" into viral T-shirts, a guy who hates meetings is still working on his themes for this campaign.

"I'm really rotating around the thought of authenticity," Maddon said. "I talked about it a lot last year, the fact that I think authenticity has a chance to repeat itself without even trying. It's part of who you are. It's not fabricated. It's real.

"I've talked about our guys a lot the last couple years. I think one of our strongest qualities is the authentic component of our players. So I'm really focusing on that word right now. Again, that's a great word to bring an entire message from (when) you get in front of the group that first day in spring training.

"I kind of just think like authenticity happens. And let's work it from there."

The costumes should be in midseason form with Maddon planning a house party around Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival before driving his RV from Florida to Arizona.

Maddon will turn 63 on Feb. 8 and have to keep evolving, just like his players, who might outgrow some of those gimmicks. But the Cubs are still a reflection of their future Hall of Fame manager.

Amid all the uncertainty in Washington, Maddon wouldn't touch a question about what advice he would give Donald Trump before Friday's inauguration.

"I'm not even going to go anywhere close to that," Maddon said. "I will say this: I have a lot of respect of the office.

"At the end of the day, just have a lot of respect for the office, regardless of your political persuasion. My point would be to encourage people to really respect the office and let's see what we get done here over the next four years."

CSN Chicago will live stream Cubs, White Sox games in 2017

CSN Chicago will live stream Cubs, White Sox games in 2017

CSN will live stream Cubs and White Sox games plus pre and postgame shows throughout the 2017 season.

This is thrilling news for all Chicago baseball fans and comes at an absolutely perfect time for a Cubs fanbase that will spend the rest of the year reveling in the 2016 World Series championship.

White Sox fans will also gain more opportunities to get up-close looks at the future as the South Siders continue on with their rebuild.

Both teams and the pre and post shows will be streamed on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.

CSN already streams Bulls and Blackhawks games and pre/post shows.

"We are thrilled to launch live streaming of our Chicago White Sox and Cubs telecasts beginning this MLB season," said Phil Bedella, Vice President/General Manager of CSN Chicago. "With live streaming currently offered for our Bulls and Blackhawks telecasts, the addition of MLB streaming further illustrates our commitment to provide our viewers with the most in-depth and compelling Cubs and White Sox content in and out of the home and on any device."

The complete CSN broadcasting schedules for Cubs and White Sox telecasts will be released over the next couple weeks.

"We are very pleased that our partners at CSN will be able to provide fans with the opportunity to watch the White Sox anywhere," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for fans to watch their White Sox, regardless of where they are or what they are doing.  Sports fans deserve to see all the action all season long."

"After such a historic season, we are thrilled Cubs fans will be able to stream games on their choice of device, either inside or outside the home," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said. "This access has been years in the making for our fans, but the timing is awfully good given the excitement around the 2017 campaign."

For more information, check out the complete press release.