“The best sales pitch I have is: This is an exciting team and this is Chicago,” Rizzo told reporters Friday.
In town to promote his charity “Laugh Off for Cancer” event Jan. 15, Rizzo isn’t paying real close attention to the Cubs offseason because he thinks there’s plenty of talent already on the team.
“Regardless, if we bring the team back that we had last year, I’m confident we can win a lot more games than we did last year, he said. “I think we have impact players that can step up and emerge, but bringing in outside talent can never hurt.”
Rizzo believes the available free agents will make their decisions based on more than money considering all will be well taken care of.
“That comes down to so much more than baseball,” Rizzo stated. “Most of these guys [who] are flown around and getting shown the city are going to be making a good amount of money, so it’s going to be about the best decision for them.”
That might be a little different take then his boss, Theo Epstein, has stated in the past. He’s noted that most of the time it does comes down to the contract, but maybe both are right. Once the money is in place, Lester or anyone else is going to base his decision on where’s he’s most comfortable and probably where he can win. It still might make Boston the potential front-runner but doesn’t mean the Cubs are out of the picture.
Whomever the team brings in, Rizzo thinks they’ll enjoy new manager Joe Maddon as much as he thinks he will. Rizzo said he doesn’t know Maddon well but after talking to him, they couldn’t be on the same page more.
“Seriously, everything,” Rizzo said. “It’s just the whole philosophy of not overworking and not doing too much and getting your work in, in a professional manner is something I always preach on. You have to stay fresh in this game. That’s what I believe in. And the family style he brings is going to be unbelievable.”
While Rizzo liked the Maddon hire he couldn’t help but feel for his former manager, Rick Renteria.
“Obviously, tough losing Rick but it's business,” he said. “I called Rick right away. It’s tough but it’s also tough when a guy gets traded or a guy gets released for financial reasons or a guy gets sent down because he has an option to be sent down. No one likes to see it. I reached out and thanked him for everything.”
Rizzo said Renteria was upbeat -- just like he was as a manager -- and would be “watching from afar.”
But what kind of team will he be watching and Rizzo be playing on? A contender? A pretender? One close to the playoffs or still a ways away? For the first time in several years, it will be hard to predict a win total for the Cubs. Or at least harder than it’s been.
“We have a very talented group of players that we’re going to put on the field next year,” Rizzo said. “There’s no doubt about it. Now it's just about grooming us to be champions and winners.”
For more info on Rizzo’s "Laugh off for Cancer," go here.