Posted January 19, 2013 on AP on Fox
Chicago-cubs-starting
Jeff Samardzija can see the big picture coming into focus for the Chicago Cubs. They're about to begin their second season with Theo Epstein leading the front office, and the right-hander believes the pieces are starting to fall into place. Samardzija said he ''absolutely'' likes what he's seeing from management, and he wasn't referring to the one-year contract he agreed to on Friday. He sees a team coming off a 101-loss season that just might surprise a few people. ''You understand that they care and that they're making their decisions,'' he said Friday at the Cubs' annual fan convention. ''Obviously, some of those decisions are hard decisions. That's why there are only certain people making them. Yeah, I like what they're doing. They're winners.'' A year ago, optimism on the north side was as heavy as a slice of deep dish pizza. Epstein, the man who built two championship winners in Boston, had just taken over as president of baseball operations and was leading a front office that included new general manager Jed Hoyer. Hope that the Cubs were on the path to their first title since 1908 was soaring. But even Epstein and Hoyer didn't realize just how big a task they were facing as they began to overhaul the roster and the farm system. A year in, well, the Cubs believe the results are coming. Never mind the record last season. ''We are building something long-term,'' Hoyer said. ''Our goal ultimately is to get to the point where we're a team with great young players and we're going to make the playoffs every single year or eight out of 10 years.'' Players believe the right steps are being taken. ''I think we have a better chance this year because of what I see so far,'' Alfonso Soriano said. They believe they have enough arms after bringing in Edwin Jackson to lead a rotation that includes Matt Garza and Samardzija. Throw in Travis Wood and newcomers Scott Baker and Scott Feldman, and the Cubs have six potential starters. They also can boast a young All-Star in shortstop Starlin Castro and a Gold Glove second baseman in Darwin Barney. The four-year, $52 million deal the Cubs gave Jackson after they tried to sign Anibal Sanchez was a break from the pattern of acquiring low-priced players, hoping they can contribute. It was a signal that management was looking for improvement now while eyeing the future. Who exactly will be a part of that future remains to be seen. Soriano said Friday that he would like to stick around. He has two seasons left on his eight-year, $136 million deal, and while he's been slowed by injuries, he showed that he can still be productive when healthy. There were rumors last season that he might be traded to San Francisco, but Soriano nixed them when he said he didn't want to go there. He wound up finishing with 32 homers and 108 RBIs. Soriano said he hasn't talked with management about his future since the end of the season but would like to do so soon. ''Like I said, I'm ready to play hard here or for another team because this is my job,'' Soriano said. ''This is what I like to do.'' Garza, meanwhile, said he's ''champing at the bit'' to get back on the mound after having his season cut short by an injury to his pitching elbow. The right-hander expects to have no restrictions when camp starts. He likes the additions made to the Cubs and sees no reason why they can't make the playoffs. ''There's no reason to suit up every year if that's not what you're trying to do,'' he said. Garza's name frequently comes up in trade talks. He agreed to a one-year, $10.25 million deal that avoided salary arbitration and wouldn't mind discussing a multiyear contract. He's said he's not focused on that at the moment, though, and management isn't ready to offer one, anyway. ''It's not the right time right now,'' Hoyer said. ''He hasn't pitched since (July 21). He feels great, he feels healthy. I think if there's a time in the future where he feels really good, that's a more rational time to have that discussion.'' A long-term contract is also something Samardzija would like to continue to discuss. He said the sides talked about a multiyear deal before agreeing to a one-year contract that includes a $2.64 million salary and an additional $125,000 in available performance bonuses. ''There's definitely common ground between both of us that we both want to be here in Chicago,'' he said. ''That's really all that needs to be said. We will continue to talk.''
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Chicago Cubs & Jeff Samardzija will wait to discuss long-term deal

There isn't much to be excited about in this Chicago Cubs pitching staff. There is depth sure, but there are only two or three true quality arms in the rotation. One of those arms is the breakout pitcher of 2012, Jeff Samardzija. After the laughter subsided following Samardzija's declaration that he wanted to be in the rotation, he went out and dazzled all of us in spring...

Cubs signed Jeff Samardzija and James Russell

It was reported yesterday that the Cubs signed Jeff Samardzija and James Russell to avoid arbitration. The Cubs signed Matt Garza yesterday and earlier this week they signed Luis Valbuena. Those were the only four players the Cubs had eligible for arbitration. The Jeff Samardzija contract is worth $2.64 million and they signed James Russell for $1.075 million. Totals for arbitraiton...

Jeff Samardzija under the radar

After years of being the golden boy and fan favorite who couldn't quite get there, Jeff Samardzija arrived as a starter in 2012. His record and ERA perhaps belittle the type of season he really had. His record of 9-13 with an ERA of 3.89 in 28 starts might not excite anyone. If you dig a little deeper, there was a lot of impressive stuff about his season considering it was his...

Couple things from the Cubs Convention

The guys at Vine Line got me a ticket to this year's convention.Because they're awesome.In the past I always arrived late to that Saturday morning meeting with the GM and Manager, ended up standing in the back of the crowded ballroom getting pictures of the backs of Cub fan's heads.I thought with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Dale Sveum and Shiraz Rehman, I should finally...

Cubs Rumors: Alfonso Soriano Wants to Remain in Chicago

There have been several trade rumors swirling around Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano this offseason, but the veteran told Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that he hopes to remain with the club and be a part of their next winning team. "I want to stay here and finish my career here and try to win before I retire," Soriano said. "I signed here to bring a ...

Epstein won't waver from Cubs' long-term plan

Although the Chicago Cubs are coming off a 61-101 season, team president Theo Epstein sounded an optimistic tone in recent days as the team's push toward spring training heated up. "It's postseason or bust every year," Epstein said. "That's what our goal is." If teams and their executives, even realistic ones like Epstein, can't be optimistic...

Cubs, Garza agree to $10.25M deal

Matt Garza and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a $10.25 million, one-year contract that avoids salary arbitration. Creative Artists Agency, which represents the right-hander, announced the deal Thursday night on Twitter. Garza also posted on his account, ''Business side over! Hooray! Time to focus on what really matters 2013.'' Garza avoided arbitration a year ago...

Shark Month

Deconstructing an awful month for a pretty good pitcher. Jeff Samardzija and the Chicago Cubs avoided arbitration right before Cubs convention got underway as both sides agreed to a one year, $2.64MM deal. This was first reported by our very own Anno:   BREAKING NEWS: A WORLD SERIES DREAMING EXCLISIVE Directly from Theo Epstein HIMSELF! Russell & Samardzija have been signed...

Wrigley renovation to run $300 million

The Chicago Cubs announced a five-year, $300 million plan to renovate Wrigley Field at the annual Cubs convention on Saturday. There are still several hurdles to clear, including funding for the project, but owner Tom Ricketts is confident renovations can begin as early as October, starting with the home clubhouse. Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said the Ricketts...

Player Profile #140: Anthony Rizzo | 1B | CHC

On more than one occasion I’ve been asked the following question: “Would you rather keep Eric Hosmer or Anthony Rizzo?” Well, Rizzo appears first in our countdown for 2013, so if this season is your primary concern, then I’d say Hosmer. But to be perfectly honest, I like Rizzo a lot more than I thought I would just one year ago. In 2011, Rizzo stepped to the plate 153 times...

Wrigley Renovation Plans From the Cubs Convention

This will be relatively brief but serves to consolidate all the random Tweets by Anno, Roobs and other bloggers all over the interwebs.  The Cubs hosted an informational session where they revealed their plans to restore Wrigley Field, and not to rebuild it.  For the source you can check out the Twitter feeds on our sidebar run by Anno and Roobs.  I’m sure photos will be available...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.