Cubs

Cubs: Joe Maddon sees a lot of Joey Votto in Anthony Rizzo

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Cubs: Joe Maddon sees a lot of Joey Votto in Anthony Rizzo

When asked about Anthony Rizzo's latest hot streak, Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn't want to roll out the usual superlatives.

Instead, he paid the Cubs first baseman an even higher compliment, comparing Rizzo to Reds star Joey Votto.

Rizzo has been on fire lately, reaching base 28 times in his last 52 plate appearances, posting a .415/.538/.634 slash line in his last 11 games. He's been even better the past five games, reaching safely on 15 of 24 plate appearances. It helps that he's been hit by a pitch a league-leading six times.

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That puts Rizzo atop the National League with a .493 on-base percentage entering play Saturday, drawing comparisons to the 2010 NL MVP.

"If you want to teach a young left-handed hitter how to break the shift, watch what [Rizzo] is doing right now," Maddon said. "Probably the best 'B-hack' — with two strikes — I've seen in a long time. He just makes adjustments.

"Votto's like that. Rizzo and [Votto] kind of resemble each other. When the at-bat gets deep, Votto will choke up, do different things. I really appreciate that about his at-bats.

"That's the thing I think young hitters just don't understand or work on enough. It's like one size fits all with their swings. They don't understand how to manipulate the bat head with their hands. I think Rizz does and I definitely know Votto does.

"That's how you eliminate shifting on left-handed hitters — teach them young how to utilize their hands and what to do when they get to two strikes. Those two lefties are really good at it."

[MORE: Unsung hero Jonathan Herrera impressing Maddon, Cubs]

Votto has earned a reputation as one of the most cerebral hitters in the game today, utilizing a laser focus at the plate and an incredible batting eye. He led the NL in OBP four years in a row from 2010-13 and still posted a .390 mark last season despite a .255 average as he struggled through injuries and played in just 62 games.

Votto may be 31, but he doesn't appear ready to pass the torch to 25-year-old Rizzo just yet. Votto is fifth in the NL with a .462 OBP, hitting .344 with six homers and 15 RBI.

Rizzo hasn't quite shown that power yet — with only three doubles and two homers on the season — but he does have three extra-base hits in the last two games, including a two-run homer in the series opener with the Reds Friday night.

After reaching base four times in five trips to the plate in Friday's victory, Rizzo broke down his recent hot stretch simply:

"It's just baseball," he said. "Just trying to do what I do every day and luckily, I'm getting good results right now."

Cubs reportedly agree to deal with reliever Jeremy Jeffress

Cubs reportedly agree to deal with reliever Jeremy Jeffress

The Cubs bullpen is undergoing an overhaul with Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler already heading to other teams and perhaps more changes coming.

One incoming change is apparently Jeremy Jeffress. According to reports, the Cubs have agreed to a one-year deal with the 32-year-old reliever.


Jeffress was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round back in 2006 and has had three stints with the team since. He made his MLB debut with the Brewers in 2010, but left the team the following offseason as part of the Zack Greinke trade with the Kansas City Royals.

Years later, he re-signed with the Brewers in 2014. The Brewers then dealt him to the Texas Rangers in the middle of the 2016 season, only to re-acquire him from Texas the following trade deadline.

In his most recent stint with the Brewers, Jeffress was streaky. He was an all-star in 2018 (1.29 ERA, 89 strikeouts, 27 walks in 76 2/3 innings), but had an ERA north of five in 2019. That 2018 season was the best of his career in many ways so the Cubs will be hoping to recreate some of that magic as opposed to his lackluster 2019.

Either way, the right-hander gives the Cubs a much-needed veteran presence in the bullpen after the losses of Cishek, Kintzler and possibly Pedro Strop, who is still a free agent.

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Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker reportedly to take Houston Astros job

Former Cubs manager Dusty Baker reportedly to take Houston Astros job

The Houston Astros are going through one of the more unusual offseasons in recent baseball history, but they reportedly have a man picked out to the guide team out of it.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Astros have pegged Dusty Baker to be the team’s next manager. Baker takes over after A.J. Hinch was unceremoniously fired following details of the sign-stealing investigation came out.

Baker, 70, was the Cubs manager from 2003-2006. He guided the North Siders to the 2003 NLCS before the team’s infamous collapse to the Marlins in that series.

Baker last managed the Washington Nationals in 2016 and 2017. The Nationals won the NL East both years, but were bounced out in the NLDS each postseason.

In the Astros, Baker takes over a team that has won more than 100 games each of the past three seasons, including winning the 2017 World Series and making it to the 2019 World Series. 

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