Cubs

No worries: Garza is ready to roll

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No worries: Garza is ready to roll

Monday, Feb. 21, 2011Posted: 6:55 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Matt Garza hasnt seen it all, but in baseball years, he seems to be an old 27. The former first-round pick has already been traded twice. Hes pitched in the World Series. Hes married with children.

The Cubs have no reservations about Garza. His medical records are clean and hes under team contractual control for the next three seasons. Thats why they gutted their farm system to acquire him from the Rays in last months eight-player deal.

Hes very intense, said first baseman Carlos Pena, a teammate in Tampa Bay. Youll be able to see it its kind of obvious.

You may have to wait until April 3 at Wrigley Field to see its full force. But in the meantime, it doesnt seem like you have to worry about hurting Garzas feelings.

Manager Mike Quade included Garza on Monday when he brought Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano into his office. But Garza didnt feel like he needed to be in the Opening Day discussion.

(Quades) still trying to feel me out, Garza said. Im the type of guy where you dont have to tell me ahead of time -- just put my name on the board and Ill be ready. It really doesnt bother me and I told him that: Quade, its your team. You run it the way you want and you tell me when I need to throw and Ill be there.

The Cubs have spent a lot of time, energy and money wondering where Zambrano is at. They need someone else to stabilize the front of the rotation. Garza wouldnt have gotten to this point if he didnt have an ego. But hes not wrapped up in Opening Day appearances.

I really dont care, and I told Q that, Garza said. As long as he doesnt say, Well, youre No. 6 or 7, then it really doesnt bother me where the hell Im at. By the end of the year, its really not going to matter. As long as we end up in October, I dont care where I throw.

That may be a long shot, but the odds look better after the Garza trade. Across the past three seasons, hes won 34 games and posted a 3.86 ERA, numbers that should improve outside the American League East. At a minimum, the Cubs are counting on 30 starts and 200 innings.

Sometimes you want to get caught up in predictions and whos going to win what division and whos going to be in the playoffs, Dempster said. I always joke around: I booked my tee times for Oct. 4 because everyone says were not making the playoffs. But we still got to play the games (and) good things can happen when you unite as a team.

Garza has at least given fans a different reason for optimism. There may not be a direct cause and effect, but Cubs marketing chief Wally Hayward said Monday that the renewal rate for season tickets is above 90 percent. All hope is not lost.

Im pumped, Garza said. I didnt work all offseason for nothing. So its time to get going. Get the tires aired up and get the engine amped and lets get rolling, man.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

Is this the offseason that Cubs executive Jason McLeod finally becomes an MLB general manager?

According to Bruce Levine, the Giants are reportedly interested in McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development, for their vacant general manager position.

McLeod joined the Cubs' front office in 2011 alongside Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Before the Cubs, he spent six years in the Red Sox front office and two in the Padres' (with Hoyer, who was San Diego's general manager from 2010-2011). 

Of course, the Giants' reported interest in McLeod doesn't necessarily mean that he will interview for the job. However, it's worth noting that McLeod interviewed for the Twins' general manager job in 2016; he also withdrew his name from consideration for the Padres' general manager job in 2014. 

In addition to the Giants, McLeod's name has been linked to the Mets' general manager vacancy. This is more speculation, but the point is that it seems to be only a matter of time before McLeod is hired as general manager elsewhere.

For what it's worth, though, McLeod is under contract through 2021 and has previously said that he is grateful to be with the Cubs. 

“I’m exceptionally grateful,” McLeod said. “All of us are. Look at where we are at this moment in time with this team," McLeod said in 2016. "I can’t imagine a better environment, a better culture to work at in baseball.

"We’ve been together a long time. We’re friends. We’re good. We embrace the fact that we are good. And we challenge ourselves to be even better.”

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.