The Draft will be June 6-8, and yes, the Cubs have the second pick overall. Stanford pitcher Appel, University of Arkansas pitcher Stanek and Georgia high-school outfielder Meadows are ranked 1-2-3 in MLB.com's Top 50 Draft Prospects list. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, addressed the Draft during the Cubs Convention. It does seem that both he and Hoyer would lean more toward a player like Meadows.
"There's a bit of an imbalance in the organization," Epstein said during a front office seminar at the convention. "We have probably better position-player prospects and we lack some starting pitching prospects. So, in an ideal world, there would be that can't miss college starting-pitching prospect available No. 2 overall that we all know is a lock. [We] would move in that direction.
"But it's interesting because in the history of the Draft, the best bets up top are position players because of the uncertainty and the attrition and injury risk of pitchers," Epstein said. "So those are pretty well trends over time. We're going to take the best player available.
"If there were a can't miss position player and pitchers that we had some questions on, we'd go with the position player and then attack the pitching with volume because the history of the Draft also shows that great pitching can come from all over the Draft," he said. "You might hit on a guy in the fifth round, the 15th round, the 25th round. With position players, most of your great players come from the top two rounds."
Last year, the Cubs selected high-school outfielder Albert Almora with the sixth overall pick, and then stocked up on pitchers, selecting seven in a row and eight in the first eight rounds. Appel was selected eighth overall last year by the Pirates but did not sign. Said Epstein: "I don't see us backing down from any player that legitimately wants to play professional baseball."
The last time the Cubs had the second overall pick was 2001, and they selected Mark Prior.
What will be the end-game with Matt Garza? Will he be traded early this year, near the deadline, or not at all? What could the Cubs get for him? Thanks.
-- Tyson W., Iowa City, Iowa
The only thing that's certain is that Garza will be a free agent after this season. There are a lot of variables to be considered regarding the team's options. First, he has to show he's healthy. What if he and the Cubs get off to a good start and they're contending in July? The Cubs might decide it's better to keep Garza than deal him for prospects. You'll just have to wait and see.
I was looking through the roster and I'm not seeing a complete bench. Assuming Scott Hairston, Dioner Navarro, Luis Valbuena and Tony Campana are locks, who possibly fills the fifth or sixth spot if the Cubs decide to go with 11 pitchers?
-- Eric F., Danville, Ill.
Right now, Hairston isn't officially on the Cubs' roster, and I'd say only Navarro and Valbuena are "locks." The Cubs need to find a backup for Anthony Rizzo when he gets a rare day off, and they want a good balance of left- and right-handed hitters in the lineup. One option as a backup at first could be Steve Clevenger. Dave Sappelt had a good winter and could be an extra outfielder. Check out the list of non-roster Spring Training invitees on Cubs.com. Players in that group, which includes Darnell McDonald and Brian Bogusevic, who have big league experience, will also be competing for those final spots on the 25-man roster. Filling out the bench is part of the fun of Spring Training.
Pearl Jam just announced a July concert at Wrigley Field. I understand the Cubs bring in extra revenue selling Wrigley as a concert venue, but why do they continually do it during the season? The field is absolutely destroyed and it's an embarrassment to the players and fans alike. When will Wrigley start being treated like the baseball sanctuary that it is?
-- Chris J., Santa Monica, Calif.
You're from California, and I'm not sure if you've ever been to Chicago, but obviously, the concerts are scheduled during the season because that's the best time of the year here for an outside event. According to the Cubs, the four concerts in 2012 (Roger Waters, Brad Paisley and two Bruce Springsteen shows) generated $24 million in economic impact and $2.5 million in estimated tax revenues to the city, county and state, including $1.6 million for Chicago alone. This also helped Wrigleyville neighborhood bars and restaurants, Chicago-area hotels, rooftop businesses, neighborhood parking lots and residential garages. As for the field, the grounds crew hates having anyone walk on the grass, even the players.
What's going on with Arodys Vizcaino? I haven't heard a whole lot on his progress rehabbing from surgery and was wondering if he'll be someone we'll see at Wrigley this year.
-- Mike P., Clarendon Hills, Ill.
Vizcaino should be pitching at Wrigley this year, but his role is to be determined. Because he's coming back from Tommy John, he'll be eased into action. We'll know more once Spring Training begins.
When will single-game tickets go on sale?
-- Donna C., Williamsfield, Ill.
Cubs' single-game tickets go on sale March 8.