Kap's Corner

What Would You Do If You Were Tom Ricketts?

I host the Tenth Inning post game show on WGN Radio after most games and I am inundated with calls from fans who want to blame Lou Piniella for the poor play of many of the Cubs highly paid stars. So it got me to thinking. If you owned the Chicago Cubs what moves would you make? Not just in player personnel but in all aspects of running a major league baseball franchise from the team to the front office to the concessions to the marketing plan.

Put some thought into this and post your ideas in the comments section. I will take the best laid out plans to Tom Ricketts and hand your ideas to him. Be creative, think outside the box, and remember there are a ton of aspects that are included in owning a major league team that you probably haven't even considered. Where would you build the new spring training facility? Who would be your manager next season if Lou doesn't return? How much would your payroll be?

These are all interesting questions and questions that I want you to answer. Be thorough and have fun building a franchise but remember it is not as easy as it looks!

Go get em!

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24 Comments

Syscokid87 said:

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I would get back to basic of competing on analytics and leverage the basic learning’s of Analytics @ Work, Competing on Analytics, & Moneyball. We have better technology and information today. Trying to buy a World Series like the Cubs did is not an option -- just painfully expensive!

Joe said:

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If I were the owner of the Cubs, this is what I would do.


1. Declare this season pretty much over and try to shed as many of the veterans as I could in trades for good prospects. No sense in trying to win games when you are a .500 team at best. This core group of vets has had their chance and they have proven unable to meet the task of winning the big games. The worse the team does this season the better draft pick we get.


2. Let Piniella finish this season and offer the manager job to Greg Maddux. He is quite simple one of the greatest baseball minds around and has stated his interest in managing. If he doesnt want to manage, then offer him any job he wants in the organization. He just needs to be kept with the Cubs. If he doesnt want the manager job then let Sandberg have it.


3. If you are able to shed some of the veterans and their big money, declare the next 2-3 seasons as rebuilding years by acquiring as many good prospects as you can and bringing up our own to play. Payroll will be smaller and as a concession to fans for the rebuilding years, lower ticket prices since payroll is smaller.


4. If you are unable to trade any of the vets this season, make sure you do not resign Derek Lee, Ted Lilly or Aramis Ramirez if he opts out. Basically do not re-sign any of our vet players if we can avoid it. The only core group of players we should worry about keeping right now are Castro, Marmol, Marshall, and Colvin. I know we are stuck with many of the other vets and their contracts so we just have to deal with that. Shed them as you are able to or until they expire.


5. Restore Wrigley Field as best as you can. Go on with the Triangle Building and build it. Upgrade and restore as much of Wrigley as you can without disturbing the most famous parts of it.


6. Take advantage of the fervent fan base we have by creating a short "Meet The Cubs" tour that hits major U.S. cities in the offseason in which fans can pay $20-25 to come and meet the players, get some pictures with them and get autographs. Basically a roving Cubs Convention but you must get most of the players, especially the star players, to participate. There are many Cubs fans all over the country. Take advantage of that and generate some money while giving the fans something they would enjoy and wouldn't cost them an arm and a leg.


7. This one is a longshot, but hire Dave Duncan as our pitching coach if we are able to.

Steve said:

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Last year the rockies were 12 games under .500 and 15.5 games back this time last year. Everyone thought they were the worst team in baseball. They finished the season 92-70 and took the wildcard. We are 5 games under .500 and 7 GB. Its way too early to call a season finished...

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/COL/2009-schedule-scores.shtml

George Bliss said:

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What Would You Do If You Were Tom Ricketts?

Mr.Kaplan, In my corporate business life I worked for very structured companies such as IBM and Seagate Technology. This is what I observed. The great companies use what I call PMP. Participative Management Philosophy. It is the process of searching out every single method of Quality Control and Good Management practices of your friends AND foes alike!! Take a look at the Minnesota Twins Process. They attack spring training with brutal fundamentalism and rehearse the simple things over and over again. Take a look at the New England Patriots? Same issue. They get "everyone" involved in the offense and defensive systems.
Let me tell Mr. Ricketts what happened to IBM in the recent past. IBM INVENTED the Personal Computer. I was there for all of the press conferences. They tried to use their traditional sales force that called on fortune 100 companies to sell a HOME PC!! Wrong!! But the MBA's at Corporate had a strangle hold on the process and no one was going to change. I alerted them to this young guy in Austin Texas who was selling PC's out of his dorm room to kids in colleges. His name was Michael Dell. I put together a meeting in Las Vegas in 1997 and met with Michael at the trade show called Comdex. My boss at the time was cordial but told Michael at OUR company party that selling PC's to college kids and using Small Circulation Magazines to get the product sold would never work..
He was stuck in old thinking and IBM has never recoverd their market as of this date. When you are big and have a lot of money in the bank Like IBM, their is no need to try different things.
I end with just this simple suggestion for starters. What time is the team required to get to the park?? Whatever it is, start coming to the park 15 minutes earlier than presently required and within a month or two the minutes will add up to hours of re-focus.
No Trade means "we got it made" and this is the worst thing a player can think in his mind. Never sign a No Trade Player again. It is not done in American Corporations that succeed.


Aaron Lowe said:

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Player Personnel
I'm an astute observer of the game and would consider myself someone who could be an able GM, but as an owner, I'd like to be involved in aspects of player personnel by getting to know who is in the organization, what player types we are targeting, what our long-term personnel strategy is, etc. All these priorities would be set by the baseball department staff (GM, scouts, coaches). At the same time, as owner (and fan), I'd have to let have my personnel people inform me of free agent signings, medium-major contracts, etc. Not necessarily have to get my approval for things, but I'd at least like to be well informed.

Concessions wise, I'd to see the Cubs expand even more. Possibly have some sponsorships with restaurants or fast food places. For example, KFC gets to sell some chicken at Wrigley, but the Cubs hire the servers and KFC has someone to train them for when the season starts. KFC pays initial equipment costs, but gets to use the area the Cubs would give them rent-free. In return, the Cubs get a cut of profits from all sales at the location inside the stadium. KFC, for example, would be barred from selling things like say, fries or drinks, at a different rate than the Cubs. I think such a situation would be innovative and a good cross marketing opportunity. KFC could hand out coupons at their booth in Wrigley to entice customers to visit Chicagoland locations and those KFC locations would promote the Cubs experience and Wrigley Field. Imagine eating a double down while watching the Cubbies at Wrigley? KFC was my example, but this could work with any number of establishments. (My wish would be some Buffalo Wild Wings!)

In terms of marketing, I think the Cubs are lacking in the social media department. Take a cue from the Blackhawks and launch podcasts, a Cubs TV type thing, etc. Have a more innovative use of Twitter and Facebook. I know that MLB tries to put its hands into everything the teams do, but the Cubs could utilize the Internet age a lot better in my opinion. Individual campaigns and stuff like that I would leave to my marketing people, but I'd want to have final approval over major new marketing directions.

Cable TV. People say it's the future of the Cubs and I think it is too. Even though I didn't grow up in the age of nostalgic WGN, I've had this idea for awhile, but I don't know if it would work, but I'd sure as hell give it a try. The Cubs launch nationally on WGN America with a rights fee situation. Locally, the Cubs stay on WGN-9 but with an advertising revenue share. Channel 9 wouldn't have to pay a rights fee, but in return the Cubs get have a share of ad revenue and get to have at least 30 minutes pre and post game for a Cubs produced show (possibly co-produced with WGN). The Cubs would sell the ad spots, with at least some minutes going to WGN to make up for them being forced to carry the certain length pre and post show after all games. The show could also be filmed at the Cubs museum (see triangle building section).

Renovating Wrigley. If it means playing at the Cell for a year or in Milwaukee (preferably the southside), then so be it. Wrigley needs to be a place that can stand longer than the Coliseum.

Rooftops. Form a Cubs backed and funded front group (I know, it's kind of scummy) to buy up the rooftop buildings. Thus, the Cubs would control the rooftops and their revenue. Put a jumbotron on of them. Yeah, it'd be a big change, but times change. Sell the rooftop experience as part of the Cubs/Wrigley experience.

Get that triangle building up, up, up! If the team has go it alone, then so be it. Get some parking garages put up, have a Cubs Museum (not called a Hall of Fame, I think that's so cheesy), have a basement connected to Wrigley with state of the art facilities for the players.

Spring training: Stay in Arizona. I've never been to Cubs spring training in Mesa, but I think the historical connection to the team is very important. Have a state of the art stadium complex built.
Does Arizona have a TIF type law? Force them into financing. If not, the team can line up its own financing. If it does this (or even starts to), it has the option of walking away from AZ. This is more incentive for Arizona to dole out dollars to the Cubs, or give the Cubs tax perks for staying.

Payroll: Have a flexible limit area, but let my personnel people determine how they want to spend it. Final levels must be made known to me.

Lou Piniella. Not coming back. As a fan, I just don't see the urgency in him at the right times or the long term commitment to decisions he makes, or for that matter, their ramifications (i.e. Z to bullpen). My manager when Lou's gone? I don't know, that's why there is a process to hire people. Top names I would consider? Ryne Sandberg, Buck Showalter, Joe Girardi, Pete Mackanin, Pat Listach, Grady Little, Ron Gardenhire, Mike Scioscia, Bob Brenly, Buck Martinez, Davey Johnson

I'd keep Hendry at GM. His overall record is mixed-positive in my opinion, but I think he has a great attitude and works well with players and coaches and the media. Sure, there could always be someone theoretically better, but he does a solid job and is very likeable. I know he has the chops to get things done.

BlueOctober2010 said:

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*Where would you build the new spring training facility?
Lets not make this more complicated than it has to be. Move to the site that offers the best facility at the lowest cost to the Cubs. I'm not concerned with the number of years we've had a facility in Mesa or any other complications like this. We should be concerned with keeping the best interest of the Cubs at the highest priority. The financial problems that the state of Arizona has, for example, simply should not be part of the decision. No one is going to blame us for being selfish -- we haven't won in over 100 years! Let's learn to use that to our advantage.
I also feel strongly that the Cubs should not sacrifice on their wish list for whoever is going to host the site for their new complex. The idea of a Wrigleyville type of mall or village surrounding the training complex would be a brilliant way to add much needed revenues to the organization. This idea can not be sacrificed in an effort to appease the new (or existing) host.

*Who would be your manager next season if Lou doesn't return?
My favorite option is a proven World Series winner such as Joe Girardi or Bob Brenly. The Ryne Sandberg idea is enticing, and frankly quite tempting. However, I really think he needs some experience coaching at the big league level first. I love Alan Trammel as the bench coach, but I think the combination of a proven champion as head coach and Ryno as bench coach would be incredible. The head coach only has to be a commitment of a couple of years. Sandberg should be ready to take the reigns after that. By the way, I think Larry Rothschild has proven himself several times over as one of the elite pitching coaches in the majors. Carlos Silva anyone?

*How much would your payroll be?
Let’s face it. Payroll is nothing more than just a number. I’m not as concerned with having a big number as I’m concerned with the efficiency of dollars spent – bang for your buck. It would be easy to blame Jim Hendry for some of the head-scratching numbers forked out in the past. It’s very important not to forget that this was also during a time of transition in ownership. The previous owner realized that they would not be paying a large portion of these contracts. Why did we overpay for guys like Soriano and Zambrano? Simple, they were the best players that were available at the time. This was not a decision where long term consequences were taken into consideration. It was the ‘get the best available players THIS YEAR at all cost’ mentality. The ‘who cares who will be available for less money next year or the year after that’ mentality. The ‘let’s sell this team’ mentality. Obviously, this is a high stakes gamble and one where the best interest of the team is NOT the first priority.
The major league payroll is just one of many parts of the overhead in this business. Our goal is to win the World Series. Let’s take a big step back and assess where are priorities are and where they should be. I’m impressed with the idea of investing in the farm and scouting systems. If we want efficient use of payroll, the best way is to get as much help as possible from the farm. Like anything in life and business, there is a balance here. Playing at Wrigley is one of the biggest stages in baseball in the world. The expectations, pressures, and stakes are very high. We have to have enough payroll on the major league side to keep some of the pressure off of the young up-and-comers. We don’t want to be desperately rushing the young talent up either. It’s a fine line to walk.

Without a doubt, the biggest challenge for the new ownership is going to be expanding revenues. How are you going to bring in more revenue when there are so many constants that are almost impossible to change? How can you squeeze any more income from Wrigley Field without adding advertisements or selling the name? The triangle building is a good answer, but then what’s next? There is definitely a uniquely complex maze of obstacles an owner must navigate to get this done properly. It will definitely require some bold moves that may or may not be very popular. I have all the confidence in the world the Ricketts can do it, the right way.
The Cubs could definitely benefit from their own TV channel similar to what the Yankees have with the YES network. I'd subscribe! As would a multitude of fans across the country. This is just one way to capitalize on the huge nation-wide fan base the Cubs possess.
I also think the Cubs should offer a much larger variety of apparel. The selection and variety of Cubs apparel recently seems to have grown, but I feel like the more the better. Can we get a second alternate jersey?
I don't know what the relationship between the Cubs and the former Budweiser building is, but the current use of that rooftop (trashy casino ad) is a huge waste of potential revenue for the Cubs. That rooftop should either have bleachers or even a jumbo-tron screen. Either of these would potentially be able to provide a much larger source of revenue than the current configuration. I would make the Toyota sign in left-center so big that the rooftop on that building is completely blocked from sight inside the park. The value of that building is little to nothing if the view of the roof is blocked from inside Wrigley. Buy the building once it's devalued and add some roof-top bleachers. The Cubs could take 100% of that revenue, unlike the 17% they get from the rest of the rooftops. Hey, you said think outside the box!

Frank said:

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First and foremost, hire a President in charge of all aspects of baseball operations. He has the ultimate authority to hire/fire anybody in the baseball side of the business.

Second, tell Crane Kenny that if he's on the field for any reason he will be removed to his office by security. Let him know that he doesnt' belong on the field and if he has anything to say regaring any player move to talk to the President of BB Operations.

Third, try to shed as much veterans as possible but don't give them away (unless you're talking about Soriano, then see if a team will take him for a bag of balls, even offer to pay 7/8ths of his salary). Lee, Rami, Big Z & Soriano (I know his salary will preclude any trade so they will have to eat most if not all of his salary).

Lastly, I'm not sure if you've caught on, but get rid of Soriano. He's a primadonna and will only drag this team down. I don't care if you have to pay his salary for him to go away. Get rid of him ASAP.

schoofs said:

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1. Fire Crane Kenney and bring in someone with an iota of baseball knowledge.

2. Fire Jim Hendry and bring in someone that actually utilizes advanced statistics.

3. Fire every minor league scout in the organization.

4. Fire Lou Piniella. Anyone in any business that holds a managerial position and responds to problems with the business with, "Gee, I don't know what to do guys" should be fired. Running a business myself, my thought is just this: then I'll bring in someone who does know.

5. Hire Maddux as your pitching coach. Who knows if he'd accept, but if he would -- he'd be a god.

6. I'm not sold on Sandberg, despite the fact he was my idol growing up. However, he's earned the opportunity, and it's time to bring him up. Perhaps have an interim for the remainder of the year, and bring in Sandberg fresh.

7. Put the entire team on the market for a fire sale. It's time to blow this puppy up. Do everything possible to unload Soriano, even if you end up eating more than 50% of the contract. Do not demand prospects, just get someone to take it the hell off your hands. Try to unload Ramirez and Lee, and if that doesn't work -- cut them. The season is likely lost -- use it to bring up fresh talent. Trade Lilly for prospects, Dempster if you can, and either trade if you can find a fool to take Zambrano, or cut him. I remember having a huge argument with a friend before the season about this team, and my point was, among a million others, simple: this team is old. They are proving as much this year.

8. Last, but not least, begin a systematic tear down of Wrigley. Now, before you yell and scream, hear me out. I am not an architect, and so this may be a pipe dream, but its an interesting idea all the same. A couple years ago we tore down the bleachers and rebuilt. I propose tearing down the left field granstand to about third base and rebuilding new in the offseason just as the bleachers were. At the end of the next year, tear down third base to home plate and rebuild. Following year, home to first, and the year after first to the right field foul pole. Again, I am not an architect nor do I know anything about engineering, but I figure someone savvy enough may be able to do it. The field itself, and Wrigleyville will remain the same. The same ivy, the same dirt, the same bricks in the outfield -- without the poles blocking lines, concrete falling from the skies, concourses that are in with the 21st century, and new facilities for the ballclub.

Best,
Ross Schoofs

Steve said:

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That may have worked with the blackhawks, but we have some differences. The blackhawks, through all there bad years, acquired a ton of high round top draft picks. Guys like toews, kane, some others who are considered the best prospects but still in the system. We had a wealth of young NHL ready players.

The cubs dont have that. Maybe castro and colvin are ready, but vitters, barney and I cant think of any other good players are NOT quite ready for ML action. We have no other guys in the minors. You are saying that we take maybe a 5 year hiatus before enough guys are developed to the major league level and before we have even a close chance. Why not bring them up slowly and have them 1 by 1 (colvin and castro) get into the groove while having veteran guys to teach them.

Steve said:

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I dont know what exactly to do, but I think I have a couple ideas. First is the obvious trade. I say keep aram. This is the first year in which he has struggled. He has been the most consistent hitter we have had. Derrek lee hasnt been. I like the guy a lot but he has been up and down. I think you could make a serious legitimate trade to another team for a big hitter with trading Lee/Gorzellany/and a minor leaguer. Maybe either darwin barney or Hak-Ju Lee. Its clear that castro is here to stay and I dont think we need 2 short stops. Both of them are good and would be good in a trade. I honestly think that that is a good trade. I know adrian gonzalez is pretty far fetched, but the padres would get a good first baseman, a good pitcher, and a touted prospect.

I dont think the padres need pitching but you get my drift. I dont think that trade will happen but I am sure many teams would consider a three for one big guy package.

Also I like pinella a lot, but he keeps saying he doesnt have answers. If you dont answers, its time to find someone who thinks they do. I like the idea of gregg maddux coming in even if it is an interim position. And if it works out maybe he will stay for a while. Let me know what you guys think!

Rick Monday said:

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Great topic Kap! The first thing I would do is to have Mr. Ricketts and his siblings read the Joe Torre/Tom Verducci book The Yankee Years. It gives a great insight on how an organization that took (and still takes) winning as the ONLY option is run. About how important it was to build a team around that core of home-grown talent (Jeter, Rivera, et al) and that chemistry and talent had to go hand-in-hand to create a consistent winner.
However, the best part of the book studies how the new ownership of the Boston Red Sox at the time re-built themselves from the top to bottom in order to compete and finally beat the mighty Yanks. It all started with hiring G.M. Theo Epstein who was one of the first of highly educated, young, upper management types who now run the majority of MLB teams. They favor a more "Bill James" statistical approach and not just playing a hunch a player. I'm sure the Cubs have people like this working for them but Jim Hendry and Lou Pinella don't fit this profile and after this season it's time to say goodbye. (Former Trib hacks Crane Kenny & Mike McGuire will have to go as well.) I know the brothers from Naples are throwing a lot of money to have the Cubs move down to Florida and while that may mean nothing at all to winning during the regular season, a big shake up might just show that a new sheriff is in town. Bringing in a younger but experienced manager will be tough. Can't wait until Joe Giardi gets fired from the Yankees. That would be at least on more season. And even though they are your two power positions, it's time to say goodbye to Derrick Lee and try and trade Aramis Ramirez if possible. Both seem to be too low key to provide the kind of leadership needed and Ram has shown he's not up to playoff pressure. Try to mix find a mix of the youth with veterans which I know is easier said then done. I'm spent...

CubbieBear1908 said:

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In order, here is what I would do:
1)Fire Hendry, and hire Maddux as GM. If Maddux doesn't want the position, reach out to Gillick, and see if he'll leave his advisory role with the Phillies for a few years to turn the franchise around. He's turned around the fortunes of the Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners, and Phillies, rebuilding their farm teams, and making very calculated free agent signings. Clearly he knows how to build a winner, which we'll never know with the inept Hendry at the helm.

2)Fire Piniella. After firing him, make the announcement that regardless of salary and seniority, we are in the business of winning baseball games, and if you don't produce, you sit, or are traded somewhere else. Allow Trammell to finish out the year at the helm. At the end of the year, you'll choose between Sandberg, Brenly, and Girardi (if he doesn't re-up with the Yankees)

3)Announce that the rest of the coaching staff will remain, and will be evaluated at the end of the season.

4)Purge the team of the following players: Zambrano,Lilly, Silva, Gorzelanny, Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome, Lee, Fontenot, Theriot, Baker, Ramirez, Nady, Stevens, Howry, Grabow, Hill, and Soto.

5)Replace with the following internal candidates (respectively): Cashner (already on the team), Jay Jackson, Diamond, Coleman, Snyder, Campana, Spencer, LaHair, Tony Thomas, Barney, Camp, Tracy, Adduci, Parker, Schlitter, Chirinos, and Welington Castillo...Replace any of the just mentioned players with better talent received in the trades of our veterans.

6)Announce the Cubs have moved on from the Arizona debacle, and will be moving to Florida. If players can't handle the travel times in Florida, then they clearly won't be able to handle the travel times when games really count. Plus, the pitching and hitting is more easily evaluated in Florida where the air is heavier, unlike Arizona, where breaking pitches don't bite as hard and balls fly out of the yard.

7)Announce that the Cubs will be moving to either an expanded Schaumberg Flyers Stadium or to The Cell starting in 2011 while Wrigley Field is torn down, save for the bleachers and the ivy wall. State that the stadium cannot be repaired, and the neighborhood is very important to the Cubs family style atmosphere, and rather than relocate, it's best to start from scratch on the same location, and keep 2 of the most recognizable features of the stadium intact (the bleachers and the marquee, which will come down, but will be put back again). Announce that ticket prices will actually fall due to increased seating and more ad revenue.

8)Finally, at the end of the season, Steve Stone and Mark Grace will be invited to join the team in their chosen capacities. I'd recommend Stone replace Brenly and ask Brenly if he'd be a bench coach. If he turns it down, you tell him you're replacing him with Stone in the booth, then, you ask Grace if he'd be a bench coach.

davesime said:

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Tear it down to the ground, and then this organization can start over, and make it right. So many years, the cub brass has spent there way out of a problem, and not did it the right way. Florida, Tampa, and Arizona had it right and how many World Series have they been to? I know right now this team has to many no trade clause, but this problem is easily soulved. They have 2 choices? Either wave there no trade clause or be released. Harsh? Well, if we are going to win that is what it will take to get there. Who will lead this new attitude going forward? Simple, Ryan Sandberg who has been with the cub minor leagues, and knows the talent from top to bottom. Ryan has the respect of the young players, and with his lack of Major league experience may be the ticket we are looking for. This year’s team has hit rock bottom, and the same mistakes are happening that has been around here for so many years. The cub organization has tried to buy there way out of 102 years, and where did that get them? It is time to tear it down, and start new with a “gn” who has experience doing so. The cub fans will support this idea because up to now, look at where we are. My opinion is that Lou has lost this team on the field, look no further then the effort of players. The same mistakes game after game, and with the current philosophy of buying there way to wins has not worked. I feel strong fans will still come, and buy tickets, and jersey, and pack the house with this new attitude, and with the new attitude the cub team will be celebrating a championship real soon. It will take guts and brains to pull this off but until Tom pulls the string on this new attitude, this cub team will continue to make the same mistakes, and up to now, how many World Series games have we won?

cc002600 said:

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"Ryan" Sandberg ? Holy cow.
your cubs cred is now zero.
Go away

Edelweiss said:

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We could do all of the above, and the result might not be any different. There are 30 teams in MLB, and only 8 of them make it to the playoffs every year. We could have the same team we had in '08, and still run into trouble. The only way to rebuild a team is to take on a few new players,and shed old contracts by attrition, which the Cubs have done this year. The worst thing any team can do is give long contracts that run way past a player's anticipated effectiveness. Players should be acquired like stocks,; don't pay top dollar for a guy who had a great year on another team, but rather pick guys who are due for a rebound, at bottom dollar. If you are wrong, at least you aren't stuck with untradable guys.

EastCoastCubFan said:

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Here is what I would do:

1)Let Piniella walk away after the season. Don't get me wrong....I appreciate what he's done for the team, and I know he's a hell of a baseball man. I respect Piniella's knowledge and experience. But, he's 67, and just doesn't seem to have any fire any more. Plus, I don't believe he's willing to dress players down when they need it ala Bobby Cox, Jim Leyland, etc. And let's face it, some of our players need dressing down, big time.

2. Do whatever it takes to hire JOE GIRARDI as the next manager. My Yankees-fan buddies tell me that, under no circumstances, will Girardi be returning to the Yankees next year (how would YOU like to coach for the Steinbrenners.....can you blame him??). Girardi is a Chicago guy, is young, has the fire this team needs from a manager, played for the Cubs, and has played on and managed World Series-winning teams (not the Cubs, of course). Remember, the year he was with the Marlins, he had absolutely NOTHING to work with, but still had that team within an eyelash of the playoffs. Bottom line: Girardi knows how to win, and he's got the track record to prove it. He should be in a Cub uniform next year.

3. RESIST the temptation and public clamoring to hire Sandberg as the next manager. Nobody was a bigger fan of Sandberg than I was back in his hey-day, and I was even there 6/23/84 (got the ticket stub and scorecard to prove it), but Sandberg has NO MLB managerial experience, does not have winning background, and hiring him would be perceived by knowlegable Cub fans as a publicity gimmick more than anything....an attempt to cling to the past (which, in the case of the Cubs, has not been all that glorius), rather than moving forward. Plus, Sandberg was somewhat disingenous regarding the true circumstances surrounding his "sudden" retirement back in '94 (divorce and alimony), thereby raising additional credibility issues. Good players do not necessarily make good managers, especially when they lack a track record.

4. Given the team's poor performance so far this season, it's likely we'll be out of the race come September. If that happens, do NOT repeat the mistake the Trib made last year (i.e., we had a chance to unload Harden to Minnesota for prospects which really could have helped us....instead, he was released after the season and now have nothing to show for him). If we are out of it by then, and if contending teams show interest in someone like, say, Lilly, do not be afraid to pull the trigger if we can get some promising youngsters who do NOT have histories of injuries nor attitude problems. A "can't-miss" 2nd or 3rd baseman would be ideal.

5. Theriot has got to go. I am convinced that Theriot is, at best, an average player who does not hit for any power at ALL. That may have been fine back in the Manny Trillo/ Mick Kelleher days (both of whom were better fielders than Theriot, I might add), but it's 2010 and you need at least a LITTLE power from 2nd base. Theriot is already in his 30s and is not the long-term answer at 2B.

6. Try to build the club around pitching, speed, fundamentals, defense, and resist the temptation to try and win with power and the 3-run homer exclusively. I know that Wrigley Field has a reputation as a hitter-friendly park. But, the fact of the matter is that there are actually MORE days in which the wind blows in than it does out (a little research will confirm this.....look how much it's happened this year alone); on those days, it's practically impossible to hit a HR. In fact, contrary to what most people believe, Wrigely is actually more of a pitcher-friendly park most of the time. We need to use this to our advantage from now on. Generally, we have good pitching now.....let's keep it that way, and keep building from there with speed and defense.

7. Draft SMART players. Get guys that went to Stanford, Texas, Michigan, UC Berkely, etc (and graduated) and thus who have the intelligence and refinement to understand the importance of "team concept" and "fundamental baseball." I'm not saying the Cubs are dumb right now; however, smart players do not pose at the plate when they think they've hit a home run. Smart players do not miss signs. Smart players do not miss cut-offs. Smart hitters understand that, with two guys on base, it's the PITCHER who's under pressure, not the hitter. Smart hitters have a sense of what a pitcher is likely to throw in a given situation. Smart players are unselfish and know it's just a game, are good in the clubhouse, and they don't take their frustrations out on the fans, coaches, etc. See the Dodgers and Cardinals for proof.

8. I do not think Hendry should be fired. Granted, he's made some questionable decisions (e.g., Bradley, Miles, etc), but he's also made some good one's too (e.g., Ramirez, Dempster, etc). Hendry should not be blamed for the enormous contract of Sorianno. Every knowledgable Cub fan understands that this contract was back-loaded because the Trib figured they weren't ones who'd have to wind up paying for it. Besides, I don't think the team is so pathetic now that we need to start from scratch ala 1981 and 1994. The minor leagues are actually now starting to produce, plus we fans WILL NOT TOLERATE another "rebuilding" scheme, at least at this point! We will not stand for another "Building a New Tradition." The team needs to win, and they need to win SOON, and thus continuity is the key here. Hendry deserves another 3-5 years. But, please NO MORE Bradley-type signings!

9. Unless the Cubs make a run within the next few weeks, I would try to move Derek Lee within the month. If possible, try to get either a SOLID 2nd baseman (somebody perhaps in the Mickey Morindini mold...we do not need a superstar 2-bagger, just someone better than Theriot), a solid RH reliever, and/or a "can't-miss" prospect for 3B. I think Colvin's going to be a hell of a hitter, and right now he can platoon with Nady at 1B. Colvin needs to get more at bats, and this would be an excellent way for that to come about.

10. Wait till after the season to decide about A-Ram. A-Ram is too good a hitter to go through what he's going through, but he looks listless, almost like something else is on his mind. He's still relatively young, so I don't think he's at the end of the line. I would not want to give up on him too early.

11. I would hang on to Big Z. I know that a lot of fans would like to see him leave town, but I think it's more likely that we could steal some good players from other teams later this season if we offered up Lilly rather than Big Z. I think Z still has some good years left in him (remember, he does have a no-hitter on his resume and technically has been our ace). Lilly is 34 and just coming off major surgery. I'd rather have a good 2nd baseman (with some power) and another good arm in the pen than having Lilly on the DL next season. Gorz or Marshall can be moved back into the rotation.

12. Finally, PLEASE do not make massive changes to Wrigley Field! Personally, I think the concept of a "Triangle Building" is a horrible idea, and would take a lot of the intrinsic charm, purity, and beauty away from both Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville. I believe the park is perfectly fine the way it is. These so-called fans who call Wrigley a "dump" or a "toilet" show neither an understanding nor an appreciation for what Wrigley Field is: the most beautiful baseball palace in the world. Please resist the temptation to make the Wrigley experience similar to, say, the Fenway Park experience; Fenway Park (you wanna talk about a dump!) differs from Wrigley in ways that are unfavorable, so let's keep it that way. Having the Cubs play a season, or even part of a season, at White Sox Park or whatever they call it this week would be horrendous. I know Wrigley is old, and you might have to make tweaks here and there. But, there is absolutely no reason for major changes to be made to the Friendly Confines.

That's my two cents. Thank you.

willemaze said:

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I would like to add my strong support for Girardi as manager. I hope your "Yankee fan buddies" are correct. I have been wishing all year that the Yanks fail to make post season so that Girardi would become available.

Even if Girardi is available, I'm concerned. Tom Ricketts has said the choice of field manager is the GM's. Let's not forget that Hendry gave Girardi the back of his hand before the 2007 season. My personal suspicion is that Hendry's buddies with the Marlins' front office (where Hendry came up as a scout) poisoned the water for Joe with Hendry.

Tom Ricketts might have to step into this situation or we could blow a second chance to get what I believe would be the best long term choice for Cubs' manager - Joe Girardi.

TracyT said:

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Memo to self:

Got to establish a business model that quickly and effectively makes the Cubs a perennial contender and World Series champion anchored by a robust revenue stream that is unlike any other in the game, supported by an executive team that drafts the right players, signs the right free agents, and hires the best manager and coaching staff, while cranking out awesome talent like a sausage press from the most productive farm system.

Team Model:
1) Build the team that is mostly home-grown, athletic and fundamentally sound—real “Ballplayers” who know how to put a bunt down, run the bases, catch routine flyballs, know how many outs there are, and have good overall baseball instincts. Stop handing out insane contracts to players that you know will never earn back their value; let other desperate clubs do that.


Personnel:
1) Retain Jim Hendry. He’s done more than any other exec for the team since Dallas Green. Perceived by most to have been a foolish GM who overspent on ineffective veterans while languishing on developing an effective farm system. He does seem to have the capability, though, to shed bad contracts (Milton Bradley, Aaron Miles, Todd Hundley). He also seems to have made amends with the minor league system by hiring Tim Wilken and promoting Oneri Fleita. Seems to be well liked around the league. Maybe a little too loyal, letting players and managers hang around longer than they should. He created this mess, make him get out of it. Besides, it will take way too long and too much money to bring in a different guy and start from scratch.

2) Hire the perfect manager who will be around for the next fifteen years. Respected by veterans, can teach the young players coming up from the farm, handle the pitching staff, great in-game manager, can tolerate the Chicago media.

Business:
1) Revenue, revenue and more revenue. Heard it all before: own network, Jumbotron on the rooftop, PSLs, squeeze in more signage. But the one thing that trumps them all is winning every year (I know someone else said this but I can’t quite figure out who…).

2) Keep fixing the park, add the Triangle Building, squeeze in more seats by politely asking all season ticket holders to lose 25-50 lbs. and make the seats smaller. Also, find somebody to dump about $30 mil so we can say “Such-and-such Park at Wrigley Field”.

3) Gracefully ease out the color man on the radio side. Or create a three-man booth to enhance the broadcast.

Farm System:
1) Perhaps the most important element when creating a winning on-field product. Should not rely on aging, overpaid veterans to get the job done. That doesn’t work anymore.

2) Keep scouting the right young players and sign them over slot.

3) When an established young player makes it to the big leagues, plays well and plays long enough to earn a big contract, let him walk and sign an outlandish deal somewhere else. Replace him with another young player coming up the ranks.

4) When an established young player makes it to the big leagues, plays well enough and long enough to become a perennial All-Star and MVP-caliber type, sign him to a long-term deal.

Culture:
1) Buy out Ronnie Woo-Woo. Never again shall he be seen around the Friendly Confines.

2) Stop listening to stupid fans’ advice. Their reactionary outbursts are long-winded and totally devoid of any sense.


Tom

Re: Peter, Todd, Laura

Edelweiss said:

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Today, on CTL, you announced that Tyler Colvin was not in the lineup, that Aramis Ramirez was already on the DL, and that Tracy had come up from Iowa. When the game came on, Colvin was batting cleanup, Aramis was in full uniform, and Tracy was still in Iowa. Of course the DL of Rami, and the call-up of Tracy could still happen, but they had not yet been announced. That will teach you to get your information from Theriot!!!

David Kaplan said:

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Wow, you must not have very good information. I haven't talked to Ryan Theriot since they left town so how would I get my info from him. It is all over the internet that Ramirez is going on the DL. Get a clue!

joeydafish said:

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Speaking of which, I think Hendry overlsept the day clues were handed out.

JF said:

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Not into the mega scope of this question. Just a few thoughts.

Long term, the minor league system has to produce. They've recognized the need for good scouting. How about the instruction, expectations and gaging readiness for major league action. How about getting rid of players who don't have the right personality makeup; without getting overly picky about it. Without producing enough home-grown talent, things get real expensive and bogged-down.

When the position players aren't competitive defensively, that is a recipe for mediocrity and it goes downhill from there. Having players on the roster who don't play any field position competitively is ridiculous. Expecting players to have the ability to play more than one field position at a competitive level, when relatively few players can really do that, is another less obvious recipe for mediocrity. At the plate they ideally want players who can get on base at an acceptable rate when facing any major league pitching and they want players who can do heads-up baserunning.

I can see where is it difficult to have and retain all of the above for an entire roster. But they have to keep their eyes on achieving that. Otherwise, they are stuck having to manage and over-manage all of the mediocrity while not putting enough into key strengths and gaining the advantage. Somehow, they've done better well with their starting rotation in recent years, especially after Prior and Wood were off the books. The investment in starting pitching has been very high though. So, more home-grown talent could help that and then letting some of these pitchers go when they get expensive.

johnu said:

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Cubs fans have adopted a sense of entitlement for some apparent reason, alleging that the team needs to fix something so that it can continue to win.

Why is it written anywhere that the Cubs are entitled to do anything but finish fourth?

If the Rickets family is smart, they will try to not tinker with the team. For us Cincinnati fans, it's refreshing to see a team actually earn the right to be competitive.

The Cubs missed their window of opportunity. Welcome to being average or worse for awhile. Ticket prices might come down. (Not.)

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