On Tuesday, news came out that up and coming starter Jeff Samardzija had turned down a recent extension offer from the Chicago Cubs. The former Notre Dame college wide out reiterated that he wanted to remain a Cub, but according to the pitcher “It’s early right now. I still haven’t proven myself where I want to be as a player. I was happy last year but I don’t want to stay there. I want to improve and get better.”
“It’s early right now. I still haven’t proven myself where I want to be as a player. I was happy last year but I don’t want to stay there. I want to improve and get better.”
Those are some refreshing words to hear from a modern day athlete, in an age where professional sports players are almost synonymous with money and greed. It is also a positive reflection of Samardzija’s attitude of not settling on just one year of success. Players with that type of character and drive are exactly the mold with which this current Cubs front office will want to build their roster core out of. These comments from The Shark also make you wonder if there is something he knows that we do not, but the bottom line is that Samardzija is only looking to build on his success from 2012.
To be clear, I am not trying to look for cracks to bring down Samardzija’s correct approach to always strive for improvement. However, there is still the motivation for an even bigger pay day than the five year extension he was reportedly offered earlier this off season. And there is nothing wrong with that either. If he is able to continue to improve by leaps and bounds, The Shark will have earned the future big contract that is coming his way.
Samardzija’s inspiration for such bold talk may come from the other sport that he played in when he was younger: football. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco turned down an extension offer of his own this past NFL off season and ended up making good on his believe that he could do better. The often beleaguered and criticized point man of the Ravens offense ended up leading his team to a Super Bowl victory and a story book ending in the form of a mega million dollar contract, regardless of which NFL team owner will be signing the check.
While Samardzija may not have had Flacco like status on recent Cubs rosters, the young pitcher had toiled in the bullpen at Wrigley and starts in the minors as the prior front office regime that drafted and signed him away from football tried to determine his role at the Major League level. And while the upcoming season does not represent the final year of The Shark’s contract like it was for Joe Cool, the target date of a possible Cubs World Series title in 2015 (the last year of Samardzija’s current deal as it stands) sets the script of a similar story book ending for Samardzija and the Cubs.
Such grand dreams may be too much fluff from a homer for some of you, so at the very least, the take away that Cubs fans and Cubbies Crib readers should have from Samardzija’s comments are that the best has yet to come from the power right hander. His success in 2012 appears to be a mere stepping stone in his eyes and North Siders will be in for an outstanding season out of the potential future Cubs ace in 2013.