Chicago Cubs

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs convention will feel different this year

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Cubs convention will feel different this year

Jeff Nelson, Tim Stebbins, and Tony Andracki fill in for host David Kaplan as they discuss how different this year's Cubs convention will be compared to previous years and how awkward it will be for Kris Bryant and other players who could be traded before the season. They also get into baseball's cheating issue, and Tony Andracki makes a huge announcement.

(1:08) - Different feel at Cubs Con

(3:10) - Cubs putting Kris Bryant in an awkward spot

(4:44) - Anthony Rizzo says he might not be a Cub long term

(6:33) - How will Cubs fans show displeasure at Cubs Con

(10:24) - What will it take for Sammy Sosa to be accepted by the Cubs

(13:54) - Baseball's cheating scandal is spreading

(20:07) - Tony Andracki's BIG announcement

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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David Ross and Anthony Rizzo react to Astros cheating scandal, subsequent fallout

David Ross and Anthony Rizzo react to Astros cheating scandal, subsequent fallout

The Astros sign-stealing scandal has rocked the baseball community near and far. Monday, MLB handed Houston severe penalties for illegally stealing signs during the 2017 season. Those penalties include one-year suspensions for Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch — both of whom were subsequently fired from their positions.

The connection extends out of Houston; the Red Sox (Alex Cora) and Mets (Carlos Beltran) also parted ways with their managers this week in wake of MLB’s thorough investigation. Cora was Houston’s bench coach in 2017 and the mastermind of the scheme, according to The Athletic. Beltran played a key role in devising the scheme.

Cora, who won the World Series with Boston as a rookie manager in 2018, has additional penalties coming. Beltran, hired by the Mets in November, lost his job before making his managerial debut.

Like the Mets, the Cubs hired a first-year manager this offseason in former catcher David Ross. At a Cubs charity event on Thursday, Ross discussed the scandal and its fallout.

On scandal and subsequent punishment

"It is disappointing,” Ross said. “You gotta applaud Major League Baseball for doing their due diligence and upholding the integrity of the game — super important for our fans, for our players, for our coaches. I'm glad they did their homework and made some of the decisions they made."

On if he’s surprised any players weren’t punished

"I think lines get blurred when you talk about who's at fault and it can go all the way down,” he said. “Those things are difficult decisions and I don't have enough information — I wasn't a part of the emails and all the interviews that the MLB had to do, so it'd be tough to comment on exactly who’s at fault and what area and pointing that blame.

“Because in a team sport, there's gotta be somebody at the top that takes the blame. I think Major League Baseball has done a good job of defining that."

— — — — —

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also discussed the scandal Thursday. While he admitted he’s not entirely versed on the topic, he voiced his support for commissioner Rob Manfred.

“Obviously, Major League Baseball did a huge, monster investigation and they decided what they thought was best. I’m sure a lot of decisions and time went into that, so we support them with the consequences they’ve made,” Rizzo said. “It’s something that hopefully gets nixed fast. There’s in-game stuff that’s part of the game, but some of the other stuff seems to take it too far. The commissioner, I think, did a good job handling it."

On if teams cheat against the Cubs

“100 percent. I don’t know if to that extent. I think in-game stuff — I think everyone will say this as well — getting the edge in the game is totally different on the field,” he said. “Some of the video stuff I’ve heard — I don’t know if it’s true, obviously it is with the penalties — that I think takes it a little too far.

“MLB’s done a good job the last few years to have guys in the clubhouse and all-around monitoring it. To be doing it still is not easy, and it’s blatantly going out of the way.

Rizzo added opponents sometimes make sounds as decoys to make teams believe their signs are being stolen. 

Regarding whether the Cubs follow the rules

“I think it’s 100 percent safe to say that. Yeah, no doubt,” Rizzo said. “That’s for sure on the record.”

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Anthony Rizzo is keeping an open mind on extension talks with Cubs

Anthony Rizzo is keeping an open mind on extension talks with Cubs

Anthony Rizzo wants to remain a Cub for the entirety of his big-league career. However, he knows there’s a business side to baseball that complicates matters, too.

At a Cubs charity event on Thursday, Rizzo expressed his love for the organization, though he added he’d be naïve to think it’s not possible he ends his playing career wearing another big-league uniform.

“I think it would be kind of naïve [of] me not to,” Rizzo told reporters. “It’s something I stated before, about wanting to be here. Obviously, that’s not in the plans right now, [but] that doesn’t mean it’s not gonna be.

“We’ve had some talks and what not. Obviously, nothing came to fruition. This is like home to me, and my wife and my family. But this is a business, this is as cut-throat as ever now.”

Rizzo’s agent, Marc Pollack, caused quite the stir at the Winter Meetings last month. In an interview with ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Pollack said the Cubs aren't negotiating an extension with the first baseman, drawing a response from general manager Jed Hoyer.

"We've always kept those conversations in-house," Hoyer said on SportsTalk Live on Dec. 11. "We've had conversations with lots of our guys over a five-year period and it’s always best to keep it quiet. I think in this case, Rizzo's agent decided to talk about it. We did have some conceptual talks about what an extension would look like and I think that, candidly, we were pretty far apart in terms of length and so he decided to come out and say that.

"But we love Rizz. I hope he's a Cub forever. There's nothing that's been done that's going to stop future conversations, but we did have some conceptual conversations that obviously wasn't a match at this time. But this is a moment in time. It doesn't mean there's not going to be a match at some point in the future."

Rizzo’s contract includes a club option for 2021, the last year of his deal. But as he and Hoyer both have said, just because a deal hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t eventually. The 30-year-old is the face of the franchise, a leader on the field and in the clubhouse.

There’s always a chance the two sides can’t come to terms on a new deal. Just because nothing has happened yet doesn't mean something won't eventually.

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