We ask Baseball Tonight’s Chris Singleton 5 questions about the Cubs leading up to the opening of camp in Mesa this weekend.
TL: The Cubs are clearly in a rebuild mode. What kind of timetable do you give Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to get this team back into contenting in the NL Central?
CS: I think it will take a good 4-5 years for them to be considered a solid contender in NL Central and a playoff team with a chance to make it past the division series. Even if you are in a pretty good market like Chicago they realize the value and cost control of drafting well, developing your kids and getting them to the big leagues.
TL: What do you know about Dale Sveum and how do you think he will fit in Chicago?
CS: I know that Dale and I graduated from the same high school! (Pinole Valley in Pinole, CA.) I'm not sure how he is going to fit in Chicago. I see him as a (Bill) Bellicheck kind of leader, one who is not going to give the media anything to run with. Bottom line is he has to work according to Theo's plan and with developing players for the longer term.
TL: What do you think the Cubs should do with Matt Garza? Is he young enough to be a part of things when they start winning again? Or is he too valuable a chip for the front office to use to restock the farm system?
CS: You need to trade Matt Garza while his value is high. That could be near the July 31 deadline this year. Build your farm system with blue chip prospects or cusp players who will have affordable salaries in four years.
TL: Which move did you like the best so far from this front office's off-season?
CS: I like the fact that the Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano. A must move. Need to refresh the atmosphere as you are rebuilding.
TL: Give me your scouting report on Anthony Rizzo. What adjustments does he need to make after he struggled during his brief call up in San Diego?
CS: I think Anthony Rizzo is a kid that has already shown his will to fight in life when he beat cancer. I believe he will show the same resiliency in bouncing back from a rough first campaign. I watched him last year when calling some Padres games and he just looked over matched. His feel for the strike zone was not good. As a young player it can take some time before you feel like yourself at the major league level.
In time, I think he will be all right.
You can catch Chris on Baseball Tonight on ESPN as well as Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN am this season.
Follow Chris on Twitter @c_singleton