Chat with Jesse Rogers
Welcome to ESPNChicago.com! On Tuesday, Jesse Rogers stops by to chat about the Chicago Cubs' offseason. For the first 15 minutes of his chat, he will also be joined by Cubs' first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Rogers joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.
Send your questions now and join Rogers Tuesday at 2 p.m. CT/3 p.m. ET!
Jesse Rogers (3:04 PM)
Hi all welcome to our weekly Cubs chat from Az. About 10 days left in spring training. Lets get right to it because I have Anthony Rizzo sitting next to me as we're outside the Cubs complex. We'll take questions for him now and then he'll have to go soon to get ready for BP..so fire away!
Jimmy Nelligan (Champaign)
Rizzo! I noticed you have been more quiet with your hands so far this spring is there any other adjustments you've made at the plate for the upcoming season?
Anthony Rizzo (3:05 PM)
Not really. Just trying to stay within myself and hit pitches that I want to hit. And not pitches that they want me to swing at.
Hey Anthony, looking forward to your bounceback season this year. Why did you choose #44?
Anthony Rizzo (3:05 PM)
I didn't. They just put it in my locker when I got called up.
Anthony, thought you had a real nice first full season in the bigs and cant wait to see you build on that this year! Besides wins/losses, what are some stats/metrics you track and/or put the most importance on during the course of a season?
Anthony Rizzo (3:06 PM)
I'm really not a big statistical guy..It is about wins and losses and what I can do to help the team that day.
There has been a lot of talk about "Anthony Rizzo the slugger", based in part on your power potential and (perhaps) your position on the diamond, but what seems to be overlooked is your ability to put bat to ball. Between 2011 and 2012 in the PCL you maingained an average of .336, and so far this Spring Training you have been raking as well. How do you view yourself, as more of a hitter or slugger, and what average do you think you can put up in a full MLB season?
Anthony Rizzo (3:08 PM)
I definitely view myself more as a hitter. Average wise I mean the sky is the limit for any player. Going against the best pitchers every day, just trying to do my best one day at a time.
Ryan (Lake Zurich)
Anthony I'm a huge fan of yours & I was wondering has it been nice to have the spotlight off of you right now with all the prospects up here
Anthony Rizzo (3:10 PM)
It's great for the organization for having so many good players here. The attention doesn't matter to me either way.
AL (San Antonio)
Hi Anthony, looking forward to a good season. How do you like the new spring training complex?
Anthony Rizzo (3:11 PM)
It's great. It has everything we need and then some and its an indication of where this organization is going. Top notch, first class in everything we do.
Eric (Waterloo, IA)
How do YOU feel about your swing. I see reports that you're working with the pitches that you get -- using all fields and especially left-center. Then I see other reports that you're still not consistent with your swing. Are you still experimenting? Back to the original question - How do YOU feel about it?
Anthony Rizzo (3:12 PM)
I think you're experimenting every day especially in spring traning. The progression my swing has taken this spring is as good as any I've had during spring. Been putting myslef in good counts so that's been a key.
Hey Rizzo great job so far this spring, it really looks like you're dialed in. Has Baez approached you for advice on how to handle being so close but yet so far from the majors?? And if not, what advice would you give him about being ready, but not advancing because of the Super 2 date? Thanks, I'm a HUGE FAN!!!!!
Anthony Rizzo (3:14 PM)
Not directly but it's just about making sure you're not trying to do too much. Like get 5 hits in one at-bat. Just go about your business and things will come.
Grant, Dayton Ohio [via mobile]
Anthony, I'm a musician and, like all musicians, have struggled with stage fright. Do you ever get "nervous" before/during ballgames? If so, what do you do to overcome it? Thanks
Anthony Rizzo (3:15 PM)
Sure, I get butterflies before every game. I just take deep breathes and once you get in the box it's you against the pitcher. I don't hear anything else but the rumble in the stadium.
Tony, who on the pitching staff wins a 100 yrd dash? Follow up question, what adjective would you use to describe Shark's hair while running? Mine is "Flowing".
Anthony Rizzo (3:16 PM)
Travis Wood wins the competition. He's the best athlete among the pitchers...
Hey Rizzo, How do you feel about playing in the cold weather conditions in Chicago in April?
Anthony Rizzo (3:16 PM)
We try not to talk about it until it happens. But you deal with it. At least it's the same for both teams.
ryan (san diego)
who is the funnest to watch hit in bp?
Anthony Rizzo (3:17 PM)
Baez is a lot of fun to watch in BP.
Brian (Florida) [via mobile]
I love the work you do with the Cook Off for Cancer, and Walk Off for Cancer. Will you be doing another Walk Off this year in Florida? Go Cubs!
Anthony Rizzo (3:19 PM)
We do something annually in Fla every Dec. In May in Chicago we'll be hosting another cook off. Goto Rizzo44.com for all the details
Anthony, who throws it to first base harder from shortstop, Baez or Castro?
Anthony Rizzo (3:20 PM)
They both have great arms. It's not about how hard they throw it's about getting the out. We have such big gloves it never hurts or anything.
Jesse Rogers (3:21 PM)
That's it for Anthony. The schedule is so busy all he had was a few minutes to answer some of these questions. He says thanks as I do to him...and he's off to get ready for practice. I'll continue with the chat so keep them coming
Paul (Arvada, CO)
Jesse, among the non-roster invitees, who has the best chance to make the club? Kalish? Bonifacio?
Jesse Rogers (3:23 PM)
I think both make it at this point. For sure on Bonifacio and right now Kalish is prob the leader for 25th man
Skmd [via mobile]
Jesse, if I was going to buy tickets to only one Cubs game this year, should it be before August 1 or after August 1?
Jesse Rogers (3:25 PM)
I guess after. You should see Baez and Hendricks at least. Maybe well before then too but certainly by then several prospects should be up
Hey jesse who do you think will get the 3rd base job? I personally like Olt because of his power and I think if he can cut down on the strikeouts him and Rizzo can be a nice 1-2 punch
Jesse Rogers (3:26 PM)
I think what's happened is Olt has put himself in the mix, now he has to finish it off by playing some third base, etc. He hasn't yet because of his shoulder. I think a roster spot wasn't his to lose but his to win and he's done enough at the plate so far...
Would the Cubs really consider having 3 lefties in the bullpen with jonathan Sanchez?
Jesse Rogers (3:28 PM)
I don't think so. There is no need for 3 lefties unless one is simply a long man which I guess Sanchez can be. Russell and Wright are short stint guys so if Villanueva starts then maybe Sanchez fills that long role but I just don't see it.
Is there a good chance James McDonald gets taken off the 40 man roster by the beginning of the season so Bonifacio can take his place
Jesse Rogers (3:29 PM)
Yeah, we'll see how serious the injury is. That can take care of things in terms of opening a spot,etc.
Care to look into your crystal ball and project plate appearances in the Cubs OF this season?
Jesse Rogers (3:30 PM)
I think Ruggiano might lead them...I assume Lake is going to get every chance after that..Schierholtz will be traded by the deadline if he's playing well. Maybe Bonifacio is 3rd, who knows. But Ruggiano/Lake should be right there...
Patrick (Chicago )
Where do you see the Vogelbach kid fitting in with the club down the road, if at all?
Jesse Rogers (3:31 PM)
He doesn't. He'll be in a deal at some point. Not switching postions and Rizzo is set at first.
I feel that there was a bit of disrespect towards Wood. He had a better season last year and is having a better Spring, although not by much. Since he will take over this role is Shark is traded, why not groom him for it now.
Jesse Rogers (3:33 PM)
It's not the biggest deal..I haven't looked it up but I bet there aren't too many vets coming off a full season who lose their opening day gig unless it's really just too obvious like if Wood had won the Cy Young or something. So out of respect I can see why they do this but everyone knows Wood had the better year.
Jim (San Antonio)
How does the rookie (Javy Baez) look at 2B?
Jesse Rogers (3:33 PM)
Looked fine yesterday. Read my blogs before and after the game on him playing there. Should be there again tonight.
What is the best possible win total the Cubs could achieve this year? I'll set the over/under at 80, but be specific. You're the man Jesse!
Jesse Rogers (3:35 PM)
Under 80 but for the first time they might have a bad first half and make a run in the 2nd. Been the opposite. The buzz with a couple prospects coming up combined with a smaller scale sell-off might mean a good finish. Easier to say if they keep Samardzija.Then again he hasnt been great in 2nd halves when the Cubs fall out of it. Anyway, no way they can get to 80 UNLESS Baez/Hendricks and maybe Olt or something just come up and dominate...
JESSE!!!! If the Cubs are in contention come deadline, is it possible they can both make trades for the future and bring up the studs to make a run?? Of course that's only if Almora, Baez, and Bryant are just crushing everything. I just feel like the Cubs are in a position to have the best of both worlds if they can surprise people this year. THANKS!!!
Jesse Rogers (3:36 PM)
They are not in the position to have the best of both worlds. They just aren't. The major league team isn't good enough.
Did you read the Grantland article? Your thoughts?
Jesse Rogers (3:38 PM)
It's bascially what myself or our columnist Jon Greenberg have written in diff pieces throughout the whole process...I haven't got into the specific comparisons with Boston so much but the premise is the same for me. Theo doesn't have the same advantages like he used to so the one advantage he does have -- NO PRESSURE TO WIN -- these last few years, he's maxed out on. No win total goals, nothing like that. Anyway, the piece was spot on.
JT (Alliance, NE) [via mobile]
Jesse, you keep saying the Cubs won't compete for a playoff spot this year, and I'm sure we all agree. But there seems to be a couple teams each year that overachieve, albeit some more than others. Why not the Cubs?
Jesse Rogers (3:40 PM)
Because too many parts have to overachieve. And they have every intention of selling UNLESS by some miracle they are in first place or something. Most likely, the best they can do is hover around the wild card spots and even then they will sell. So just too many things have to fall into place even knowing that sometimes they do for teams.
How do you see the outfield shaking out for opening day roster?
Jesse Rogers (3:41 PM)
Lake, Ruggiano, Sweeney, Schierholtz, Kalish....Bonifacio can play out there too
Will all the pitching injuries around the league increase the chance of a Samardzija trade? Or are the Cubs set on waiting for the trade deadline?
Jesse Rogers (3:42 PM)
I think if a team ups the ante from the winter to a No. 1 type pitching prospect they will listen whenever. I still think that comes in July. We've seen how desperate Texas has gotten...could and should happen again. They still might not get a No.1 but July is the best chance even with the injuries. But I think they should sign him. Wrote another blog on it today. Check it out.
Travis (South Elgin)
Who is your favorite player and coach to interview? I know personally I always enjoyed Ryan Dempster interviews, any players on the team now as colorful?
Jesse Rogers (3:46 PM)
Hmm...tough one..Dempster is the exception more than the rule. I loved Dioner Navarro last year. Right now, Carlos Villanueva is def the best guy in there for that...James Russell speaks his mind as well but Villanueva can be fun. Listen to the podcast I did with him last week. It's in the blog. He's about it though.
"The major league team isn't good enough" I've seen crazier things happen in baseball. If Olt holds down third above average, Castro goes back to being Castro, Bonifacio stays consistent and supplants himself at 2B and is the lead off hitter we need, Rizzo reaches his 30/100 potential, Shark becomes the ACE, Wood progresses to a solid #3/2 type, EJax turns it completely around, the Bullpen is solid, and Castillo matches last year. Am I the only one who can see all this happening by mid year??? Giving them a situation where they can sell the vets and bring up the pups for a run.
Jesse Rogers (3:47 PM)
You answered your own question with the length of all those hypotheticals..Notice how you didn't mention anything about the OF! lol. Hey , you can dream. Been doing it for 105 years right?
omarjenkins (the interwebs) [via mobile]
Mike Olt...Have you changed your mind with him being opening day third baseman? (Obviously he has yet to play third...)
Jesse Rogers (3:48 PM)
Yes, I pretty much I have. Will do an extended blog on a bunch of stuff including Olt's status for tomorrow morning. But I didn't (and I don't think the Cubs thought) he would find his swing so quickly. But looks like he has...anyway, more on that tomorrow.
Big Z (Indianapolis)
Jesse I had a talk today with a friend about being a pessimist and being a realist. There is a fine line between the two and at some point the realist has to stop the whole, let me find a way to shoot down every possibility with a "real" answer, before he crosses into being a pessimist. With that in mind, give the fans something to think about or believe in. This whole offseason has been nothing but the cubs major league team isnt good enough to hold .500. 2014 will more than likely be a better year than any cubs fans have seen in the past 3, with more hype coming up in July/August with Baez and other possible prospects. Tell me there isnt a 20 year old version of yourself in there saying, hey maybe these guys really do have a chance to surprise me this year and turn the page a little earlier than the analysts say.....
Jesse Rogers (3:51 PM)
I wish I could. I just see this as the ultimate transiiton year WITHOUT a few dingers from Soriano and a few wins from Garza, etc. Their veteran talent is minimal. Then you have to HOPE any young players that come up start their careers hot. I sort of fall back on them having early struggles though I know someone will have success and then maybe have a sophmore slump. The point is you really have to strecth to make the predictions you're making and if I thought it was possible I would...
Big Z (Indianapolis)
Dang, Phil just took the "long questions" quota for the day huh?
Jesse Rogers (3:52 PM)
Ha. Unlike what people think, I have over 300 questions staring at me and I bascially hit a button to take random ones with a quick look to make sure they aren't cursing. Long/short/good/bad.
I am all about patience and not rushing the prospects through the minors, but what types of things does the farm system help that the majors would not be able to do?
Jesse Rogers (3:55 PM)
Well, c'mon, under your thinking everyone drafted should just go to the majors. Plenty of things happen. First off, experience without the big market pressure. Learning pitches. Granted they aren't major league pitches but still. Working on swing changes, etc. more reps in the field. I mean there is plenty...not saying a few can't be here but there is development to be done down there.
Jim (San Antonio)
Do you see the Cubs picking up somebody now like they did last year and the year before via waiver (Sweeney, Valbuena, Gregg, etc)?
Jesse Rogers (3:56 PM)
I really don't think so. Last year they really needed an infielder but with Murphy's emergence and picking up Bonifacio already I think they are set. Pretty much same in the OF. Their non roster invitees are a better crop this time around. Kalish looks like he'll make it.
Jesse Rogers (3:58 PM)
I still have a lot of Rizzo questions here...A bunch asking who looked good to him, etc. He told me he really , honestly doesn't have an opinion because he's simply locked into his own world in getting ready. Not that he doesn't see things of course but they're all just focused on their own deal. Plus, he hasn't played in the away games where more prospects play..anyway, he told me he really didn't have a huge opinion because he's not watching closely like I am or you would, etc.
Any chance Vitters or Brett Jackson make the team this year?
Jesse Rogers (3:59 PM)
No. Can't see it. They haven't wowed anyone. Jackson has been better. Vitter has 11 k's in 17 at-bats with a few walks...
Jesse, is there any chance that Baez, Soler, Almora, or Bryant can break camp with the big league club?Just kidding.Who schedules the spring training games? MLB or do the teams do it themselves?
Jesse Rogers (3:59 PM)
Read your piece on Samardzija. Why not offer a 5 year contract at $80 M (somewhat a compromise number) but give him the right to opt out after 3 if he thinks he is a #1 starter? Similar approach to Tanaka and Kershaw.
Jesse Rogers (4:02 PM)
I don't think the Cubs are into the opt out thing right now mostly because that out comes when they'll be ready to contend. Does them no good. Sets bad precedent, etc. That's more for the final piece. You need to lure D. Price to finish off your staff to contend then you start offering those things. But I think the timing is just bad to do it now.
Impatient Cubs Fan (cubicle)
Rondon and Parker have struggled, any chance they don't make the team?
Jesse Rogers (4:03 PM)
That's a good question. I know Bosio was high on Rondon and wanted to work with him a lot this spring but he's been hit. I think Parker is ok. Not a lot of action for him. Rondon is interesting because he can go down now that he's a year removed from being a rule 5 guy. Not sure yet.
Ben (peoria) [via mobile]
Do you see any of the big four prospects in consideration to acquire top of the rotation talent or is that pretty much unthinkable?
Jesse Rogers (4:04 PM)
It can't be unthinkable because this ship will sink without pitching. I wouldn't pull the trigger now but at some point a marlins/Cubs deal would make sense. Down the line.
Jesse Rogers (4:07 PM)
That's it for today folks. Hope you enjoyed Rizzo stopping by for a few min. Good conversation .Check out the Cubs blog daily. I posted a piece on Samardzija today. News/info later in day today as Cubs play a night game. Follow me on twitter @espnchicubs. I have a good big picture kind of blog in the works for tomorrow morning. Thanks again. Headed into the locker room right now.