Guest Post: A Midseason Analysis

I'm on the road.  Taking off to Canada to visit family and attend a cousin's wedding, so longtime reader and contributor Michael Caldwell was kind enough to submit a guest post on his thoughts on the Cubs team at mid-season.  As for me, I'll try and keep up from the Great White, eh?

And by the way, if anyone out there would like submit a guest post this weekend or at anytime, please email either me or Tom...


A Mid-season Analysis
Michael Caldwell

I want to start by thanking John and Tom for the opportunity to write again. Several years ago, this blog is what some friends and I wanted ours to be, but life got in the way for all of us, and we gave it up. John and Tom, you guys are living my dream, and I'm so happy for you.

In a matter of a days, the Cubs will be halfway through their season. So far, it's been a season we'd mostly like to forget. There's a better than even chance they will set a new franchise record for losses in a season. The odds are at least even that they will have the number one overall pick in the 2013 draft, and if not, they will surely have the number two or number three overall pick. However, that isn't all bad. It means they'll have a pretty good shot to get an impact player with that pick, and we have a front office in place that actually has a clue about what to do with such an asset in terms of drafting and player development.

Next year's draft will be similar to this year's. There will be slim pickings in regards to college hitters, but barring the epidemic of injuries sustained in the college pitching ranks in 2012, there should be more to choose from in that regard for 2013. However, just like this year, high school will be where it is at overall. There are also other things besides good draft position to be happy about.

Starlin Castro seems to have turned a corner. It wasn't that long ago we were all wondering aloud if Castro had the mental make up to stick at shortstop, and while there have been lapses at times this season, I think we can all agree that he has improved. Between his hitting and his improving defense, Castro should be a mainstay for some time to come. I also think that Castro will eventually improve his OBP, and apparently, the front office thinks as much too. Jason McLeod intimated as much this week in an interview on MLBNR.

Bryan LaHair has also been a pleasant surprise. He's cooled off some since that hot start, but no one who reads this blog ever thought he was going to stay that hot. He probably doesn't have a long term future with the Cubs because of his age, but he may turn into a valuable trade chip as we near the non-waivers trade deadline or possibly this winter because of his skill set and cost control factors.

David DeJesus has shown he is not washed up. Like LaHair, he has shown himself to be very effective against right-handed pitching. He can also play all three outfield positions. I think contending teams looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder will be calling about DeJesus, if they haven't already.

Darwin Barney is another good story amidst all the despair. He has shown that he is more than capable in the field, and he has improved at the plate. He probably isn't a long term everyday answer for a team seeking to win championships, but he is the kind of guy championship teams like to have around. He could have some trade value, or this front office might like to keep him around as a glue guy.

We're all  happy about the recent promotion of Anthony Rizzo, but that story has yet to play out. Everyone here is smart enough not to expect to much from a 23 year old rookie. If Rizzo is just league average for his position at the plate and in the field the rest of this season, we'll all be satisfied. Anything more from a rookie, especially as bad as this team is, would be icing on the cake. What we want to see from him is steady improvement and glimpses of things to come in future seasons when it will actually matter. McLeod also talked a lot about Rizzo in the interview I mentioned above. I think the front office's expectation are realistic.

Alfonso Soriano is in the midst of having his best season since 2008, and it couldn't come at a better time. It will still be asking a lot for a team to take on the final two years of Soriano's contract, even with the Cubs paying most of it, but his play has increased the odds greatly from what they were this winter. There is a chance of him being dealt now, and if not now, maybe this winter, as long as he is producing.

Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood have also been good stories. Samardzija has struggled as of late, but he has showed glimpses of what he could be, and Travis Wood finally looks like he is coming into his own. He could be a mainstay in the middle of the rotation for years to come.

Maybe the best two things going for the Cubs right now are Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Dempster has been spectacular all season long, and Garza has been better than his numbers have shown. Dempster, unless his injury becomes season ending, is going to be traded, possibly as a package with LaHair, DeJesus, Barney and/or Soriano. There are a number of potential suitors out there for his services, and with the Cubs willing to pay most or all of his remaining salary, they should get a decent return, possibly even an impact talent.

Garza's fate is less certain. I think, if he and his agent would agree to a Danks-like extension, the Cubs would be inclined to keep him around, but the rumors that he wants Cain-like money probably means the Cubs will trade him, and he should fetch a kings ransom. Battle tested young veteran pitchers with a whole season of control to go don't come on the market often. As with Dempster, there are a number of potential suitors. Between Dempster and Garza, the Cubs could restock the system with quality arms.

The farm system isn't in terrible shape either. What it lacks in quality pitching, it makes up for in quality hitting at most positions. If I had to do a Cubs Top 10 prospect list, I don't think I'd put a single pitcher in it right now. There just isn't any pitcher who stands out as a can't miss sort of impact prospect. The best of the best Cubs pitching prospects all look like back of the rotation types or late inning relievers, but if those hitters continue to develop, trade opportunities will present themselves to rectify that, and of the high ceiling types of pitchers that are in the system, you never who might step up. We also don't know yet what trades for Dempster and Garza might bring. It's possible this farm system's pitching will look completely different a month from now, and lest we forget, all it takes is one or two guys to make it to have a huge impact.

In the spirit of saving the best for last, I think it's the front office and the ownership. For the first time since the Dallas Green era, there are competent people in charge of the front office, and there is an owner that will support that front office's plan with whatever is required. This is not to say these people are perfect.

Tom Ricketts has made mistakes since taking over the Cubs, but he hasn't let it deter him. It may have taken some time for him to figure out that the front office needed a makeover, but when he made his decision, he didn't let anything stop him from getting his man.

Theo Epstein isn't blameless for what happened in Boston, but he seems to have recognized where he screwed up, and he seems determined not to repeat those mistakes.

Jed Hoyer realizes they pushed Rizzo to soon in San Diego. I think this front office will continue to err on the side of caution when deciding to bring a prospect up.

Then you combine the best of the new blood, Jason McLeod, with the best of the old blood, Tim Wilken. Wilken is already a legend in the scouting field, and McLeod is likely going to be. Oneri Fleita may have one the best overseas networks in all of baseball. There is also the sense that this front office understands it's not enough to just draft well. There will also be more emphasis on developing players. In the past, it seems to me to many Cubs prospects were left to develop on their own versus being guided and nurtured towards a specific outcome.

All in all, Cubs fans should have a lot to feel good about in spite of the Major League team's record. I know I do. I look forward to your comments.

Filed under: Analysis, Guest Post


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  • Let's welcome the 2nd half with (1) another international signing
    before July 2 and (2) a few trades with veterans going for
    good prospects. In Sept. just let Vitters and other prospects
    get their time in.

  • Very interesting and find little to disagree with, but I would like to read your take on the Cubs catching especially Castillo. Also how do you see the future rehabilitation of Wrigley?

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I think the Cubs have a very serviceable platoon at catcher in Castillo and Clevenger. Both seem to have solid receiving skills, and both seem like they will hit well enough to not be liabilities, but if this season has shown anything, it's that, like pitching, you can't have enough catching either.

    A lot of Cubs fans are going to hate me for saying this, but I'm not very high on the future rehabilitation of Wrigley. I'm in love with the team, not the ball park, and I think the Cubs need to move on.

    I'm no fan of Larry Lucchino and John Henry, but both have intimated in recent interviews that, if they could do it over again, they would've built a new ball park instead of renovating Fenway. They might be assholes, but they aren't idiots.

    The cost estimates to renovate Wrigley come in around $350M. The Marlins just built a new ball park for around $500M. So for an extra $150M, the Cubs could build a modern replica of Wrigley with all the amenities that both fans and players like and leave all the hassles of the old Wrigley Field and the politics of Illinois and Crook County behind.

    They've been offered land by various Chicago suburbs like Schaumburg before. They've also been offered land by East Chicago. My guess is that, if they decided to build a new park, politics would drive them to East Chicago, and make no mistake. Politics is what is driving this now. It always has, and that was way before the Ricketts family came along.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Michael and Luigi, I understand your points (especially about the politics and the ordinances), but I don't know that I'm sold on the idea that a new park would be financially better for the team, especially in an area outside the city. Two big pieces -- 1) the tourism aspect of Wrigley Field (how many people go to the games because "you gotta go to a game at Wrigley"? I know several out-of-towners who have made a point to see a game there), and 2) I think the neighborhood aspect is irreplacable. How much of the commerce in the area is due to the fact that Wrigley Field is right there? You could argue that the Cubs aren't taking enough financial advantage of the surrounding area, but I think that would point to an issue other than the ballpark. I personally like the fact that the Ricketts have been working on buying surrounding land, because to me that allows them to get creative with the area (upgrading facilities just offsite of the field, for example). In fact I'd love to see them try to buy some of the rooftop apartments.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    "A lot of Cubs fans are going to hate me for saying this, but I'm not very high on the future rehabilitation of Wrigley. I'm in love with the team, not the ball park, and I think the Cubs need to move on."

    Agree 100%! I've been saying the same thing. At this point it's probably best if they do move on.

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    Michael, i'm with you on Wrigley Field..I love it but, for a number of significant reasons I too believe that it is time for the Cubs to move forward..First off the limitations on night games, most players have complained how negatively day games effect the team during the long haul and it makes sense..there is no consistency in schedules unlike EVERY OTHER TEAM and the city is partly to blame for this becaus eof their ordinances..Secondly, the facilities are sub par for the home team and inthis day and age it isn't acceptable and lastly the revenue streams would increase dramatically with a new stadium...I'd make a complete modern replica of Wrigley Field with the best amentities of the new ballparks , plus more suites and seating, it's a no brainer

  • Well, I do not hate you, but I strongly disagree about Wrigley. A big part of Wrigley is Wrigleyville and a duplication of the Mona Lisa is not the Mona Lisa. I have feeling Tom Ricketts has no intention of moving to Schaumburg or East Chicago. It could never be as good.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    John, Tom and friends should write a Wrigely Debate piece once the trade deadline dies down. I'd be interested to hear what all of the thoughtful writers and respondents have to say.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    A realistic political and economic assessment suggests leaving Cook County, though not necessarily Illinois, may become a necessity.

    Without getting to much into politics, have you looked around? The city and the state are dying. In 20 years, Chicago is going to look like Detroit and Cleveland, and parts of it already does. Businesses and people aren't moving into Illinois. They're moving away, and they're taking jobs and tax dollars with them.

    The problems is that, instead of asking themselves why, Illinoisans want to blame it on greedy corporations and then double down on the same idiotic policies that drove the businesses out in the first place. Without tax revenues, the things that make Chicago so attractive to tourists will fall into a state of disrepair. When that happens, people are going to stop coming to Wrigley anyways, and up to half of the people coming to Wrigley during the summer months are tourists.

    I think the Cubs would survive such a move. Unlike the Tigers and Indians, the Cubs are also a national and regional brand. So a move across county and perhaps state lines wouldn't be as difficult, and it would probably have to be across state lines.If the Cubs simply tried to move out of Cook County, the powers that be in Springfield would do everything they could to make it hard for them to do so, but a move across state lines, they really couldn't do much about.

    The other thing no one is considering, and it may just make the whole Wrigley argument moot, is the crappy tv and radio deal the Cubs have. That deal was signed when the Tribune still owned the team. Naturally, the deal they signed was friendly to themselves.

    Most pro sports teams don't get the majority of their money from their ballpark or arena anymore. It's why the NFL and NBA don't argue over gate receipts when it comes to revenue sharing. They get it from television and radio broadcast rights. The Cubs are one of the few major market teams in MLB that are still heavily dependent upon their ballpark as their major source of revenue. In fact, they might be the only one left.

    That deal is going to be up soon. I think it runs out in 2014, and I expect the Ricketts family to milk the new contract for everything its worth. When that happens, the Cubs really will have as much money as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    The Dodgers got $2 billion.
    Start there...

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I believe the Comcast deal expires in 2014 and the WGN deal expires in 2019. I'd love to see the Cubs start their own network like the Yankees. That's where the big money is if you can pull it off.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I gotta say that while some of your reasoning is sound, I have one thing that trumps pretty much everything you said... location. I no longer live in Chicago, but even when I did I rarely went to Wrigley Field. Partly this was because it was a pain in the a** to park or if I took the El, deal with the crowds, etc. etc.

    On the surface, a new ballpark with more parking would be ideal, however I don't think I would EVER want to drive from the Northside of Chicago to NW Indiana. The traffic alone is a deterrent (I mean the Dan Ryan is the biggest travesty in the city). Add in the money for gas and the time it would take (esp. fighting rush hour traffic) and that's a HUGE no go for me. Especially considering I could just invite a friend or two over, pop on the game and enjoy a beer or three without worrying about any of the above.

    Now... you might counter argue that the Cubs would recoup attendance of fans like me from more local population, but NW is incredibly economically depressed and also generally much closer to Sox territory. And while tv revenue is hugely important, don't forget what role image plays in this... do you think if no one shows up to the games that people (especially over time) won't find the games and the team less compelling to follow? It reminds me of Montreal and the fact that you'd watch those games and 5 people were in the stands... you could hear the echo on broadcasts. It was depressing and pathetic and surely there is *some* economic value to the concessions, parking, tickets, and advertising that a stadium contains.

    While I won't belabor my argument much longer, Schaumberg is a similarly challenged location (difficult to get to for anyone not already on the West side), etc., etc.

    Again, I think that some of your points about the political football that Wrigley has become and the restrictions are valid and I agree with, but simply put moving the Cubs would probably lose them more than it would gain...

    Awesome breakdown on the Cubs play on the field this year though Micheal and I hope to read more guest posts from you in the future!

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    In reply to Pura Vida:

    I've never been to a game at Wrigley, but I've heard. I have been to Wrigley in the winter time, when I was in Chicago for Farm Bureau meetings. Growing up, I always saw the Cubs on the road in St. Louis because it was closer. Now I see them in Cincinnati. I'm actually a bigger fan of going to minor league games. They're a lot cheaper.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    It's too bad that I discovered this blog after moving out of the country because I probably would have attended more minor league games now that I am much more familiar with the prospects thanks to the good work of John, Tom and readers such as yourself.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Have enjoyed many of your past thoughts and comments, but suggesting that Chicago will be the next Detroit is perhaps the most asinine statement I've read outside of a Rosenblog. Chicago gained 9000 residents last year alone. I've been living in Chicago for the last 15 years and have watched multiple neighborhoods turn from high crime areas into safe, family-oriented communities. There is much more I could say about how Chicago is thriving, but I don't think it's necessary.

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    In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I've never lived in the Chicago area, but on my visits, Ive found it to be much cleaner and more inviting than most other major cities that Ive been to, such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinati, DC, Charlotte, or Miami.

    As for the stadium itself, I look at Wrigley like a HOF player near the end of his career. Forever a huge part of team history, but there comes a time to move on.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Sorry but a move outside of Chicago would be a mistake. Attendance would go down because nobody will want to drive to Schaumburg to watch a game, especially on a Tuesday night when I90 is already crammed full of cars and they need city people to fill the seats. While Wrigley attracts a lot of out of towners, city dwellers are still the predominant buyers of tickets and the Cubs would lose a huge source of revenue. As much as true baseball fans dont like the fairweather yuppy fans and their cell phones, they buy a lot of seats. The popularity of the team in town would suffer greatly.

    Also, out of towners are going to be less likely to attend a game in Schaumburg than they would in Wrigleyville - the surrounding neighborhood is part of the allure of the Cubs and is part of what makes people come from out of town for games.

    Having the Cubs play anywhere outside of Chicago would be a mistake.

  • I like Castillo's upside more so than Clevenger's, but Clevenger seems a little more grounded at this point. Receiving is more important than hitting though. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I agree, but it woudn't surprise me if the Cubs brought in some more catching via trade before July 31st either.

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    Michael and I have argued about the relocation before, so I won't completely rehash that. But I would put a lot of money on the Cubs not moving in the next decade. In fact, I fully expect that the renovation will get done with some civic help. It was close before Joe Ricketts decided to be a political activist and pissed off Emmanuel. That probably pushed the timeline to after the November election. But once that has played out, Emmanuel and Ricketts will be able to hammer something out. It wouldn't surprise me at all if an agreement in principal is in place and is announced late this year or early 2013.

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    In reply to Kevin Heckman:

    Poppa Joe has always been a political activist, and the politics goes far beyond the Ricketts family. It was an excuse, not a reason. Those wards and precincts on the north side have tended not to support the Mayors party over the years. This also goes back to way before the current mayor. Then you also have the fact that the previous owners of the team often used their media machine in ways that previous mayors didn't like. There are a lot of thing at play here. But since you brought up public financing, lets discuss it.

    Why should the the tax payers of Chicago, the state of Illinois and eventually the entire nation subsidize a private business? And it will eventually be the nation as a whole because the city and the state are flat broke. So is the nation, but the city and state don't have a monopoly on printing presses.

    Of course, the Ricketts probably wouldn't need the subsidy if it weren't for all the roadblocks being thrown in their way, and those roadblocks are what drives the cost of the renovation up in the first place. They're put there to make sure all the hacks can get their beaks wet.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    "Why should the the tax payers of Chicago, the state of Illinois and eventually the entire nation subsidize a private business?"

    Easy answer for the Cubs... you did it for the Sox and Bears.
    Problem is that Illinois would be on food stamps if they had food stamps for states.

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    In reply to eaton53:

    That still doesn't make it right. The taxpayers rarely win on these deals. The only argument I can make for it in this case is that there was a special tax already in place that the money for the Bears and White Sox deals came from. Also in those cases, roadblocks like historical designations and neighborhood groups didn't have to be dealt with either. Those designations and groups drive up the cost of the project. To many people have to be bribed to get anything done.

    You also didn't have the politics involved. Everybody loves the Bears, and the majority of people in Chicago proper are White Sox fans. That same majority also mostly supports the political party that run the city and the state.

    Historically, and to a large extent it's still this way, the same lines that divided baseball loyalties also divided political loyalties. The north side tended to be more middle and upper middle class, and those people tended to vote GOP. The south side tended to be more lower middle class and lower class, and those people voted Democrat.

    The White Sox may rule Chicago proper, but the Cubs are a much more national and regional brand. There are more Cubs fans as a whole. They're just spread out. The White Sox have never been and probably never will be the regional and national brand the Cubs will. That's why, as Illinois and Chicago go into their downward spiral (for which they have no one to blame but themselves), the Cubs brand is far more likely to survive.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    You do realize that the US congressmen from the 9th and 5th Illinois Congressional districts, which are basically the two precincts that dominate the north side of Chicago, are both Democrats, right? And that one of them happens to be one of the most liberal democrats in the US Congress?

    If you think the north side is full of GOP supporters, then the north side you're envisioning is much different than the one I've been living in for the last 15 years of my life.

    End of political rant (and I hope it's the end of yours). Let's get back to taking about baseball.

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    In reply to JasonB:

    It wasn't always that way, and for the record, this article wasn't about the Wrigley Renovation, but you can't talk about without getting political, because everything about the city and state are about politics.

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    Non-thread related:

    You gotta love to hear things like this if you are Theo and Jed.

    On the other hand, this isn't such good news.

    The availability of Shields would have a direct impact on Garza's market value, especially considering the 2013 and 2014 team options in his contract. Garza only has one year of control remaining, where as Shields has two years remaining because of the options.

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    Two Non-thread related items:

    Bad News?

    Rays may be shopping Shields according to Buster Olney. That could have an impact on Garza's value. Shields' contract has team options for 2013 and 2014. Garza is only under control through 2013.

    Good news?

    Dodgers President Stan Kasten told the LA Times' Dylan Hernandez, "I promise you we’ll explore everything. Look, as candid as we can be, we’re the Dodgers. We’re supposed to be big. We intend to be big. Will we look at big things? You bet."

  • If Your coming to Calgary look me up John . Have a wobbly pop and talk some Cubs!! Welcome to Canada ,

  • John Arguello the hoser..... Don't know what to think aboout that one.

    Anyway, nicely written article there Mr. Caldwell. Get that college basketball out of your system and all the intelligence comes marching to the fore.

    I, for one, was rather shocked and disappointed that CUBtv didn't become a reality soon after the Yankees made YES into such a success. I thought for sure the new owners ( especially if Cuban somehow miraculously got the team.) would have made CUBtv an instant priority. The hope is that once this Wrigley Field financing is figured out ( and it will be figured out.) that a new TV deal or station is next on the docket.

    As for on the field and the near future of the team, the pitching ( or lack thereof.) has me quite concerned. There's nothing coming from the farm system of any importance for at least two years. McNutt seems to be running in place and everyone else is light years away. And while everyone is anticipating these Matt-Garza-and-Ryan-Dempster-for-magic-beans trades, those pitchers will have to be replaced most likely via free agency. and the 16-17 mil a year it would cost to re-up a Matt Garza won't buy you a Matt Garza like starter on the open market. The prices are quite inflated. Now maybe, hopefully, teams push the "panic" button and offer a young stud pitcher. I highly doubt it. But two weeks of watching Jamie Garcia pitch might do it. Even still, even if they get....let's be optimistic and say 3 pitching prospects, the prospect pool is still vastly thin.

    I think people are putting too much into these upcoming trades. But I suppose it will pass the time till Del Mar and Saratoga open.

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    In reply to felzz:

    Thank you felzz, it wouldn't have been possible with you and the Vulcan mind meld.

  • Great column, Michael! I'm amazed you were able to find so many positives to write about.

    How about a column and thread regarding why our expectations were dashed so far this year? Last spring, many of us were predicting a .500 record. The Cards lost Pujos; the Brewers lost Fielder, were expected to lose Braun for the first 50 games, and were stuck with A. Ramirez; the Reds had Dusty --- so some (including me) were thinking a minor miracle was possible. NONE of us bloggers were expecting a 120 loss season.

    So what's happened to those expectations? Here's a few thoughts, in no particular order.

    1) No one expected our terrible record against LHPs. (But then no one was anticipating the all RH lineup we run out there).

    2) I was hoping for rebound seasons from Soto, Byrd, Stewart, and Marmol. Didn't happen (although Marmol is looking better lately).

    3) Just like last year, our 5th SP is killing us. Garza, Shark, Marmol, Dempster (when healthy) / Wood (when not) have done good for the most part, but Voorstad, Wells, and Coleman have killed us.

    4) I was not expecting our clutch hitting and BA with RISP to be so bad. (Probably related to 1 and 2, above)

    5) Even in my worst nightmares, I never dreamed ALL 3 catchers would be simultaneously disabled and the Cubs would need to bring back K. Hill's minuscule BA to replace them.

    So, fellow bloggers, if you were expecting something more, what hasn't worked out the way you thought it would?

    Thanks and have a good one...

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    I agree. No bloggers, mainstream media types or fans saw a 100+ loss season coming, but in spite of what they say, I think the front office did. In fact, I think they deliberately set this up, and 2013 may be worse.

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    You guys gotta be kidding me.. I would never go to a game in Schaumburg or east Chicago!

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    In reply to Patrick Fahey:

    I probably wouldn't go Schaumburg, but I'd go to a game in northern Indiana. Honestly though, I prefer minor league games. They cost a lot less. There's never an issue of getting good seats, and it's just more family friendly.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I also like college baseball. The SEC is probably the equivalent of the MWL.

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    Looks like the Dodgers may be dealing Zach Lee (untouchable supposedly) to Houston with Garret Gould for Jed Lowrie...They can go f off if they still intend on getting either Garza or Demp.

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    That was per Buster Olney on Twitter

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I don't see that one happening. I'm sure Houston would like to have Lee, but I don't see the Dodgers doing that. However, their interest in Lowrie is understandable. He's having a career year. He's signed through 2013, and they need a thirdbaseman.

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I'm sure Houston has asked for Lee, but I doubt the Dodgers would be inclined to do that. Although, Lowrie is having a career year, and he does have one year of control left.

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    They're also trying to get Chase Headley from the Padres. They won't give up Lee to Lowrie, but they might give him up to get Headly. Headly is a better player, and he still has three years of control. Lowrie only has one year of control left.

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    LZ, they're also talking to the Padres about Headley. I could see them giving up Lee to get Headley, but I can't see them doing it to get Lowrie. Headley is the better player, and he isn't a free agent until 2015. Lowrie only has one more year of control.

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    Lowrie is having a good year because he's finally healthy. He's also cost controlled for a couple of more years. The Cubs wouldn't have gotten Lee in a deal for Dempster, but they probably could've gotten Gould.

  • I like Barney, but I agree, a championship team needs more offense from that position. Love to keep him around as a glue guy, like you said.

    And no mention of Campana. Can't sum up the first half of the worst team in baseball without mentioning their major league leader in steals. One of the bright spots, despite his being misused. (I got TC's back like Rick and Magnum.) Also, probably have to sum up the catcher and 3b situations to get the whole picture, but other than that, pretty complete.

  • I like Barney, but I agree, you need more offense from that position on a championship team. Love to keep him around as a glue guy, like you said.

    And no mention of Campana. Can't talk about the first half of the worst team in baseball without mentioning their major league leader in stolen bases. One of the bright spots, despite his being misused. (I got TC's back like Rick and Magnum.) Could probably also use a breakdown of the catcher and 3b situations, but other than that, pretty complete. I commend you. Come join us on Robin Masters' yacht. There will be ho's.

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    Great job on the post. The problem with most folks "love affair" with Wrigley is all they see are the vines, field and scoreboard.

    I've been a advocate of tearing down Wrigley since the 1960's. Having a major league ballpark right in the middle of a neighborhood was a great idea in the 1920's. Not so in the 21st century. Most folks used public transportation when the ballpark was built. A lot just walked to the game. Now folks come from all over the nation to see our beloved team play. If you're gonna drive or fly 1000 miles to see a ballgame, 15 or 20 miles more isn't going to affect you going.

    Back in the 1920's, most ballplayers weren't athletes like today. Weight lifting and conditioning were unheard of. Actually for most teams weight training was banned. In the 21st century, now most major league teams have top flight training facilities incorporated in the ballpark. Players work out every day and keep their strength up to face the long season. Where do the Cubs work out? In a tiny dark damp corner under the bleachers. And only a few at a time as the whole team won't fit at the same time, lol.

    New ball parks have room to move around. Restaurants, food and drink vendors are easily accessable and encourage folks to spend their dollars.

    People forget that in 1914, when Wrigley was built, it only seated 14,000. All the extra seating since then is merely add-ons. It wasn't designed to seat 40,000. The next time time you sit in the upper deck which was built in 1927, remember that it was designed to last for 50 years. Oh, it might not fall down, but it's not going to last another 50 years.

  • In reply to Henry Wilfong:

    "Now folks come from all over the nation to see our beloved team play. If you're gonna drive or fly 1000 miles to see a ballgame, 15 or 20 miles more isn't going to affect you going."

    The error with that reasoning is that it ignores the pretty obvious fact that Wrigley Field itself is a major reason so many people come so many miles to see the Cubs play.

    Other than being in the middle of a neighborhood, and to me Wrigleyville is a pro not a con, I can't see one thing you mentioned that couldn't be solved with renovation.

  • Is anyone else besides me wondering why Soler's signing hasn't been officially announced yet? Could it be under review by MLB? Concepcion's deal took two weeks to get official, Puig's deal with the Dodgers was made official on Friday, and Soler signed on the 11th, 20 days ago. Could the rug get pulled out from under this deal? What's the hold up?

  • Never mind. I see it was officially announced since I asked.

    Chalk it up to paranoia from being a Cub fan.

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