Anthony Rizzo: “our goal is San Francisco”

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The Team Italy-Athletics game just ended. The A’s won 4-3, with the final out coming when an Italian player was gunned down at the plate. Not too bad for a split squad major league team playing a WBC underdog.

I spoke with Anthony Rizzo on the field after the game. Rizzo hit a long homer off the scoreboard in right-center, which looked like it could have gone 50 more feet if it needed to.  While Rizzo will likely be back with the Cubs next week or so, he’s relishing his time with Team Italy.

“Our goal is San Francisco,” Rizzo said when asked what he hopes to get out of the WBC. Referring, of course, to the WBC final.  When asked if that was realistic he said “Absolutely. Anything is possible.” I wonder if he’d say that in a candid environment, but he seemed sincere in the moment. No, Team Italy is not expected to do much here, but Rizzo is certainly in the head space of a player who is playing meaningful games right now.

He said as much, noting that it’s nice to play games that matter. Which, having talked to a lot of players this past week, I think is something most of them crave. Spring Training is a time of renewal and all of that, but after a week or so, it also becomes a bit of a slog for some of these guys. Rizzo may not have as strong a connection to Team Italy as he does the Chicago Cubs, but the few WBC games he plays will have a greater sense of urgency and purpose to them than Cubs exhibitions, and I can imagine how appealing that is to these guys right now.

Oh, final note: I asked Rizzo how he liked being called “Anthony RIT-tso” by the P.A. announcer (and his name is phonetically-spelled that way in the press materials). He rather digs it. He said it a couple of times, rolling it off his tongue.

“I think I’ll enjoy that this week,” he said.

Marlins intend to keep Christian Yelich

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With Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna gone, the next logical step for the Marlins would be to trade away Christian Yelich. He’s be an amazingly attractive trade candidate given that he is under team control through 2022, and is owed a very reasonable $58 million or so. He just turned 26 last week and has hit .290/.369/.432 in his five year career. That’s the kind of player and contract that could bring back a mess of prospects.

Except the Marlins, it seems, don’t want to do that. Multiple reports have come out in the last hour saying that the Marlins intend to hold on to Yelich and to build around him.

That could be a negotiating ploy, of course. They’ll no doubt listen to offers and, if the right one comes along, they’d certainly give strong consideration to trading him. A good deal is a good deal.

The only question, in light of the events of the last week, is whether the Marlins would know a good deal if they saw one.