Anthony Rizzo: The Man, The Myth, The Savior?

Mar 4, 2012; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs infielder Anthony Rizzo (44) reacts to a play against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training game at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-US PRESSWIRE

The Chicago Cubs organization has long been in need of a savior. Whether it be Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Starlin Castro, or more recently new Cubs’ President Theo Epstein. Though, one could argue that is one saying that should be thrown out along with the previous regime. The idea that whenever the Cubs would make a notable managerial hiring, or player acquisition, that individual would then be looked upon as the savior for the Cubs’ organization. That individual would be forced to carry the weight of leading the organization to the promise land. Something that every individual that has been a part of the Cubs’ organization has failed to do for the past 103 years.

Anthony Rizzo has yet to play a game at Wrigley Field. Though, the moment that Rizzo does step foot on Wrigley Field–the first baseman may instantly become the next perceived savior of the Cubs’ organization. Though, savior should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Rizzo nor should it be associated with any individual in the Cubs’ organization.

However, Rizzo is going to have high expectations as soon as he is called up from Iowa. The 22 year old first baseman is viewed as the first baseman of the future for the Cubs. Not only is Rizzo the future first baseman for the Cubs, he–like shortstop Starlin Castro–is the future of the Cubs’ organization.

With the Cubs struggling offensively and in the middle of a seven game losing streak, there has been increased clamoring for the Rizzo era to begin. To pin-point just where things stand between the Cubs and their willingness to promote Rizzo, here is the latest on when we can expect to see the first baseman make his Cubs’ debut.

Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum told reporters over the weekend that Rizzo’s time may be coming soon. Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago reports that Rizzo could be in the Cubs’ lineup in as soon as three weeks. The Cubs’ offense is weak and their struggles will only be glorified when the team is forced to use a designated hitter in American League ballparks. Looking at the position players that the Cubs have on the roster, the team does not have a stereotypical designated hitter. Though, it is always possible that the Cubs use Alfonso Soriano as designated hitter while the Cubs use a platoon of Joe Mather and Reed Johnson in left field. Another option is that the Cubs use Soriano as a designated hitter, while moving LaHair to left field, and calling up Rizzo to play first base. That scenario would give the Cubs the greatest opportunity at producing offensively. The Cubs’ first use of a designated hitter will come on June 8th when the team plays the Minnesota Twins.

Patrick Mooney of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago reports that talks among front office officials in the Cubs’ organization about when Rizzo should be called up are heating up. Mooney notes that the Cubs plan on Rizzo being one of the team’s top run producers in addition to being the answer at first base for many years to come. As of this point, Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have not strayed from the course. They still have their sights set on 2013 and beyond. For that reason, the Cubs’ front office is not going to rush Rizzo to the Major Leagues. Rizzo’s purpose is not for the 2012 season, rather it is for the years to come beginning in 2013.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times also believes that Rizzo could be with the Cubs in as soon as three weeks noting that Epstein and Hoyer have recently traveled to Iowa to watch Rizzo play first-hand. Wittenmyer also added that the Cubs front office has been talking about a potential Rizzo promotion for weeks now. Though, I still do not expect anything that happens on the Major League level will determine when the Cubs promote Rizzo. Unless of course, Bryan LaHair sustains an injury. Hoyer has admitted that he is to blame for rushing Rizzo to the Major Leagues last season, and that the same mistake will not be made this season.

Anthony Rizzo is a name that many Cubs’ fans have been talking about, and the noise from Cubs fans will only grow louder until Rizzo is playing first base for the Cubs at Wrigley Field.