Chicago Cubs Off season Outlook, with Jordan Campbell

Today we continue out off-season outlook series today. Last time we did this, I interviewed Carlos Collazo, of Tomahawk, and Ricky Keeler of Yanks Go Yard.

The Chicago Cubs have had a nice off-season, although it has been relatively quiet. They are under new leadership this off-season. The Cubs have certainly improved their roster, but that will not necessarily show in the win/loss column in the 2012 season. Cubs fans should be excited about the direction that the Cubs are headed in.

Today I am doing an off-season outlook with Jordan Campbell. Jordan is one of the best writers that FanSided has to offer. Over at Cubbies Crib, Jordan is the Senior Editor, and has always put a lot of great posts out there. Jordan answered some questions that I had on the Cubs, Theo Epstein, Anthony Rizzo, and Matt Garza‘s future.

Any suggestions on how the Marlins can protect those new fish tanks
from Zambrano?

Carlos Zambrano is going to be the Marlins’ best friend but he is also going to be their enemy. I have witnessed the growth of Zambrano’s career, and I am still not sure what his character is. One thing that should not be questioned about Zambrano is his desire to win. The issue is that when the teams begins to slide or Zambrano begins to falter, he then is in line for one his famous tantrums. Though with Ozzie Guillen as his manager, Zambrano’s antics may finally be welcomed.


The Cubs biggest acquition of the off season has to be Theo Epstein? What were your initial reactions when you guys got him?

I am still flying high since the day Theo Epstein joined the Cubs’ front office as their president of baseball operations. Epstein, and new general manager Jed Hoyer, essentially are taking everything the Cubs’ previous regime did and throw it out the window. There is no question that Epstein is the Cubs’ biggest addition this winter. The result of his hiring may not be on display to the general fan this season, but the Cubs’ are already a much better organization than they were when the season ended.


What are the chances Matt Garza opens the season as a Chicago Cub? As a Cubs fan, what is your ideal package that would come in return for Garza?

After thinking that Matt Garza will be traded, I have changed that thought and now have a sneaking suspicion that Garza will be taking the mound for the Cubs on Opening Day. The fact is that teams interested in Garza are not willing to part with the prospects necessary in order to land the starting pitcher. In fact, it is my belief that Garza likely will receive a long-term extension at some point during Spring Training. Such an extension, however, would not preclude the Cubs from trading Garza.


Anthony Rizzo is an interesting prospect. I am a huge fan of his and hope he succeeds. Do you see him breaking camp with the Cubs? Is he part of the future for the Cubs?

Anthony Rizzo is a major piece in the Cubs’ long-term future. Prior to the 2011 season, the slogan was the “Three C’s”–Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, and Andrew Cashner. Colvin and Cashner are no longer a part of the Cubs’ organization. So the three building blocks for the Cubs’ going forward are Castro, Rizzo, and top prospect Brett Jackson. Rizzo is going to start the season in Triple A-Iowa but he should be recalled halfway through the season. In the meantime, Bryan LaHair will start the season as the Cubs’ starting first baseman. I often compare Rizzo to the Cubs’ version of Joey Votto, time will tell if that is a fair comparison.


Obviously Epstein is in Chicago cleaning up the mess that Hendry left you guys with. What do you feel was Hendry’s biggest mistake in his tenure? What does Epstein have to do to avoid following a similar fate?

My biggest criticism of Hendry was not the admiration with has-been free agents, not his desire to go with the “big-name” manager rather than the right manager, not the countless busts that were developed during his tenure. The thing that drove me crazy about Hendry was his lack to ever construct a solidified major league front office. Ask anyone in the Cubs’ front office while Hendry was there, he was essentially the only baseball mind. Granted Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita are excellent on the amateur side of the game, Hendry’s front office was filled with “yes men” No one in the Cubs’ front office had the cahones to tell Hendry “No”. That created an essential dictatorship in the Cubs’ front office. Not to mention the Cubs’ President Crane Kenney–who knows business not baseball–always was having his input with the roster. Epstein has already corrected that mistake. Epstein is the president of baseball operations, Hoyer is the general manager, and Kenney is banished from the baseball side of the organization. The Cubs actually have a front office in place, something that could not have been said under the watch of Hendry.


Obviously you guys acquired Chris Volstad in that Zambrano deal. What are your initial thoughts on him? Will he be a factor with the Cubs?

Chris Volstad will have some significance to the Cubs’ pitching staff in 2012. Though, I can not say in what capacity. The Cubs have potentially six starting pitchers in Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Paul Maholm, Travis Wood, Garza, and Volstad. Ideally, the Cubs would want to trade one of their starters. That would where a potential Garza trade would come to fruition. In any event, Volstad will likely start the season in the rotation. Though, in complete honest, he is an afterthought on the larger scale of the trade–which was the fact that the Cubs traded Zambrano


Be sure to check out Cubbies Crib regularly this off-season on the latest on baseball in the windy city. Here is the link to the interview that I did over there with Jordan.

Tags: Andrew Cashner Anthony Rizzo Brett Jackson Bryan LaHair Carlos Zambrano Chicago Cubs Chris Volstad Joey Votto Matt Garza Paul Maholm Randy Wells Ryan Dempster Starlin Castro Travis Wood Tyler Colvin

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