Cubs Den Mailbag: Answering all your questions (finally)

Cubs Den Mailbag:  Answering all your questions (finally)

As you all know, I've been going toe-to-toe with the flu.  The news has slowed down quite a bit of late and to be honest, I'm not sure how I'd keep up with it if it hadn't.

I've looked at what's out there and you have some Justin Upton news, Milton Bradley and Sammy Sosa are in the news for non-baseball reasons, there's the Hall of Fame vote, the Cubs convention is right around the corner, and the Phillies just signed Rodrigo Lopez!   There is  also non-news items, things such as rumors and speculation as to what Cubs might do next.  Maybe you're interested in more prospect talk or the 2013 rebuilding project in general.

So I thought this would be a good opportunity  to see what's on all your minds.  Send questions or comments -- or maybe you have an idea for a topic or a series.

You can either do it through the comments section or shoot me an email (see About section in main menu).

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    What will be the next major event for the Chicago Cubs? Approval of a stadium renovations, major trade or the draft?

  • In reply to Demarrer:

    It may actually end up being the draft!

  • In reply to Demarrer:

  • ive heard that the cubs are working on an extension with jeff samardzija? i read it on another cubs website or blog, i dont remember which one though, and i was wondering if youve heard anything about a possible samardzija extension.

    im also curious about the situation between the cubs and phillies involving soriano and brown, have u heard anything in regards to a possible trade involving the two teams lately, the last ive heard amaro was saying that the phillies will likely stick with what they have, which leads me to believe hes looking for leverage.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I've just heard whispers here and there but nothing concrete. Not surprising since these guys like to work behind the scenes. My feeling is they've probably talked parameters but nothing will happen at least until midseason. There's not a ton of incentive on the Cubs side to do it now.

  • I'd like to see a Top 30 or Top 40 prospect list, perhaps with some honorable mentions for the others who just missed.

    There's usually a move announced at the Cubs' Convention, so any advance notice would be appreciated. Perhaps that will be an extension for Samardjiza or Garza this year.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    I think I may start doing a pre-season and post season list -- or maybe a midseason list.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it would be easier for you to put your next one in a separate section, like your stats glossary, and you can update it as needed and readers could always find it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:


    As you do a Top 30/Top 40 list. I would like to see you compare it to how it looked last year showing which players have risen and which have dropped out. Perhaps even looking at potential break out players.

  • What's the next shoe to drop for the Cubs' OF situation? Soriano trade? Bourn signing? Upton or Crisp trade?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I honestly believe only the first one (Soriano) has a realistic chance of happening, and that may not happen until the deadline.

  • I saw a tweet from Javy Baez saying he was at Wrigley today. I wonder if he's going to show up at the convention?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    That would huge for them. Anybody going to the convention this year, by the way? I'm not going to go this year, even if I'm 100% by then.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I can't wait for the convention! I also can't wait for the Kane County Cougar's season to start. Seasons tickets were my Christmas present this year. I was like a little kid when I got them.

  • In reply to WillieG1:

    ask yourself, how many pitchers would want to face Almora, Soler and Vogelbach back to back. There offense should be really good, even for the pitcher friendly Midwest league.

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    In reply to mutant beast:

    It will be interesting to see where in the lineup those 3 bat if they are all on the same team this year.

  • John, I really am intrigued by the infield prospects we have, and particularly with Baez. I really like Starlin Castro, and I'd like for both Baez and Castro to remain with the team. At the same time, I'm not sure that the Cubs would have made a deal for Villanueva if he was just going to be pushed off of 3B by Baez, and it seems as though there are enough middle infield prospects to cover 2B if the Cubs feel they need to replace Barney. With the most common comp for Baez being Gary Sheffield, do you think it's more realistic that he ends up in a corner outfield spot? I know it's early, and a lot to consider, but if you could look into your crystal ball and make your best guess, what do you think will eventually happen with the Baez/Castro/Villanueva/Watkins/Alcantara/etc. situation?

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I think if Baez doesn't 3B, OF is his next destination.

    If I had to guess now it would be 3B: Baez, SS: Castro, 2B: Alcantara, 1B Rizzo for the long term IF, though I'd love to see someone else emerge.

    We all like these guys and hope for the best, but the reality is we probably won't have this problem. The Cubs will be very happy if all of those guys make it an make room for all of them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It would be great if Vogelbach could develop into a serviceable LF. He certainly appears to have the offense for the position.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I don't think Baez or anyone else in the system would cause the Cubs to pass on a prospect they thought was the best they could get at the time.

    First of all, Villanueva is several years away, and a lot could happen during that time.

    Second of all, if, on the off chance, both players seem to be really good and ready for the majors, there are always options. Baez could play short, second, or even center field. Or Villanueva perhaps play second. Or either Baez or Villanueva or both could be traded.

    When your system is as poor as the Cubs was at the time, you don't worry about redundancy. If Baez is the best player available, draft him, even though you already have Castro. Figure it out later. If Villanueva is the best player we can get in return for Dempster, make the trade. Figure it out later.

    I wouldn't be surprised that, if the best player available to the Cubs next June was clearly a shortstop, (it won't be), they would take him and figure it out later.

    The situation could be different if you are trading for MLB ready players. At that point it would make sense to get the guy that you actually need. But looking 2, 3 or 4 years down the line, take the guy you think is best.

  • Do you think it makes sense to open the season with Soriano in LF and DeJesus in CF while Jackson spends time in AAA. Then when Jackson is ready they can deal Soriano or DeJesus then or even move DeJesus back to RF if platoon isn't working out there?

  • In reply to Craig:

    That makes the most sense from where we stand now. In the end the Cubs will put the best team out there and if they think Jackson is a part of that and he's ready, then they may accommodate him.

    But if I had to bet, I'd probably bet on DeJesus in CF for the first couple of months at least.

  • Have you heard anything from your sources about the likelihood/viability of a Garza ST trade, provided he appears healthy?

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think he just started throwing from a mound, 60' 6", and since pitchers and catchers report in 28 day, 28 hours (thanks John), I think it wouldn't happen until just before the regular season starts at the earliest.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I don't have anything directly on that unfortunately. But the whispers we hear from secondary sources is that they don't see him sticking here long term.

  • Which of all of the non-roster players invited to ST have any chance
    of making the team. Which will be released if the don't make it.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I like LHP Takahashi's chances. Lillibridge has a chance as well.

  • Does it look to you like anyone at all will be taking a chance on Carlos Zambrano, or is his career finished?

  • In reply to ifandorbut:

    I think he's close to being done. He may get a minor league deal. The problem with having poor mental makeup isn't just that it can mitigate your current talent level, it could shorten your career. Once you don't have enough talent left to *make* teams put up with you, they won't.

  • In reply to ifandorbut:

    I think he's almost done. The problem is that once you no longer have the talent to force teams to put up with your attitude, then they just won't do it anymore. Zambrano is a guy teams were wary of when he did show talent, they have more reason to be wary of him now.

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    John, there was a lot of smoke surrounding Mike Olt last week..Are theCubs currently pursuing him? or waiting for Garza to prove he's healthy to finally make that deal??

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Those talks aren't currently active but if Garza shows he's healthy that could be something they re-open. Makes some sense for both teams if Cubs aren't planning on keeping Garza long term.

  • Interviews are good filler and you can talk to certain celebs or former baseball players about nothing but Cubs baseball. I would prefer a better commenting system here myself, as I'm not a big fan of the one currently in place. Excellent site here and I visit often.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Thanks Jon. What is it about the commenting system? I find it hard to trail threads when they get long. There's a FB system I could switch to but my feel was that last time that was brought up people were a little lukewarm about it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Unless there is a way to view only the unread posts and I'm just unaware of it, that would be a feature I'd like to see, if it's possible. It's too easy to miss comments unless you go back thru all of them each time you visit the site, which is too time consuming. It would be nice especially to be able to pull up any replies to your own comments so you could respond in kind for clarification or additional questions.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hate to say this, but the best way to fix the commenting system is probably to strike out on your own. Chicagonow just isn't a good platform.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, please no FB comment system!

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    In reply to ChiRy:

    I second that emotion.

  • In reply to Raymond:

    I love how vbulletin works myself.
    So user friendly.
    I hate Facebook and refuse to join.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    I'm not familiar with vbulletin, sounds great, but I second you & Raymond on the facebook hate!

    John, could you give some input to Chicago Now regarding the commenting?

  • How can I get a date with Jeff Samardzija?

  • In reply to Res Judicata:

    LOL! You're on your own there ;)

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Glad to make you chuckle when you are under the weather. Speedy recovery.

  • In case anyone can't make the convention, here's wgn radio's schedule:

    Friday, January 18

    3 – 7 p.m. Garry Meier live broadcast, including Opening Ceremonies coverage with Dave Eanet during the 5 p.m. hour

    7 – 10 p.m. WGN Sports Night live broadcast – Ballrooms VIII, IX, X. Andrea Darlas, Brian Noonan and David Kaplan return to the Cubs Convention and talk with some of the most popular Cubs of the weekend. This is your chance to hear directly from some of the players and key front office personal in the Cubs organization and find out what they’re looking forward to in 2013. Scheduled guests include:

    7-7:30 Dale Sveum and James Rowson
    7:30-8 Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer
    8-8:30 Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Scott Feldman
    8:30-9 Darwin Barney, Anthony Rizzo, and David Dejesus
    9-9:30 Len Kasper, Jim DeShaies, Pat Hughes, and Keith Moreland

    Saturday, January 19

    10-11 a.m. Meet Cubs Baseball Management – Ballrooms VIII, IX, X
    Join WGN Radio’s Dave Eanet as he sits down with: President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, Executive Vice President/General Manager Jed Hoyer, Assistant General Manager Randy Bush, and Manager Dale Sveum. Learn more about the recent moves the Cubs have made and what lies ahead for the 2013 season. Here’s your chance to hear about what goes on behind the scenes.

    11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. From Draft Day to the Big Leagues – Ballrooms VIII, IX, X

    We see what happens at the Major League level, but find out what the journey is like for ballplayers through the Minor Leagues. Hear what it is like to get the phone call saying you’ve been drafted by the Cubs and what happens from there. Cubs minor leagues prospects Dallas Beeler, Robert Whitenack, Matt Szczur and Tony Zych will be on hand to describe the journey from their first days in rookie ball to where they are today. Hosted by WGN Radio’s Garry Meier and Dave Eanet.

    12:30 – 1:30 p.m. For Kids Only Press Conference, presented by Advocate Health Care – Ballrooms VIII, IX, X
    This unique hour long session is for the kids! Hosted by WGN Radio’s Bill Leff this fun segment will allow kids to take charge and ask the questions. Come listen to Darwin Barney, David Dejesus, Brooks Raley, Anthony Rizzo and Chris Rusin answer some always entertaining questions as well as give advice to these youngsters on how to become future big league stars.

    2 – 3 p.m. Not for Women Only – Ballrooms VIII, IX, X
    Do you want to know what our players do in their spare time? What they like to do on their days off? Join WGN Radio host Carol Roth as she talks to Scott Baker, Shawn Camp, Matt Garza, James Russell and Travis Wood about their life off the field.

    4 – 6 p.m. WGN Radio’s Sports Central broadcast – Ballrooms VIII, IX, X
    WGN Radio’s Jim Memolo and Glen Kozlowski bring their Sports Central show to the Sheraton for a live broadcast with some of your favorite current and former Cubs. They’re covering all the off-season moves, as well as what to look forward to with the 2013 team. (Due to Blackhawks hockey, Sports Central will be recorded from 4-6 p.m. and played back on air and online from 6-8 p.m.)

    4:00- 4:30 Welington Castillo and David DeJesus
    4:30- 5:00 Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija
    5:00-5:30 Shawn Camp, Tony Campana and Starlin Castro
    5:30-6:00 Brett Jackson, Edwin Jackson and Anthony Rizzo

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby. Good stuff.

  • i would like you to do an article about the cubs 2012 draft and review the picks that got signed by the cubs. Talk about who might be the steal, what they need to work on and thier potential.

  • In reply to Domnk S:

    Already putting a few names and scouting reports for John. I already has some them but putting together a few more. But I promise its coming.

  • In reply to Domnk S:

    I can do that. I think as we continue to see these guys more and more we get a better and better picture.

  • John, I'm interested in your thoughts on Bonds/Clemens/Sosa and the HOF? They are all obviously worthy.

    All those writers voting against them are hypocrites. If they were baseball writers during the steroids era they should have spoken up then. That's why its called jounalism. If they were around all those locker rooms they had to know whatcwascgoing on. They were complicit with MLB and kept their shut. So their after-the-fact holier than thou attitude is revolting.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I think Bonds and Clemens belong in the HOF. As for Sosa, not so easy. He did rack up a lot of HRs but overall he just wasn't as good a player. I was going to have a guest post from a purely, objective statistical viewpoint but things got tied up. Hope to still get it. If not, I'll get something out there soon.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nate Silver says Bonds whas the 30th best player in baseball history if you just use his pre-1998 stats.

    I've said before if he had been killed in a plane crash in '98 Bonds would've been in the HOF a decade ago.

    If I had a ballot I'd vote him in using his pre-'98 numbers and ignoring the rest.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Bonds was a HOF caliber player even before the steroid talk started. Clemons was tailing off in the mid 90s when he revived his career(suddenly!) in Toronto. Id say Bonds, in spite of the fact he was a colossal jerk, will eventually get in. The others, not so liklely. Personally, Id like to see someone like Mike Mussina get in. Underappreciated pitcher who won big for a lot of years.

  • Can you provide us with an update on Hayden Simpson and how he fits in the future for the Cubs?

  • In reply to JosephClauser:

    Joseph, I think he's hanging by a string here. There were times when I saw glimpses of what Wilken saw -- the Roy Oswalt-style delivery and athleticism, the potential for 4 average pitches...but those glimpses are becoming more and more rare. If he makes it as a middle reliever, he'll be beating the odds at this point.

  • I love the site and will keep on loving it if nothing changes, but I would enjoy seeing years of control referenced more. So integral to a rebuilding club, a discussion of possible trades involving players almost seems incomplete without mentioning the years of control of the pieces.

    I would also love to see an article or series of articles featuring a past team that did a rebuild (eg, The 2008-2010 Nationals Rebuild). How their strategy differed from ours, what worked for them, what pitfalls they encountered, the big market/small market variable, that kind of thing. I'm just completely clueless on rebuilds, except what I read about ours on here, so would love to have some context of what previous rebuilding teams have gone through.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Thanks Carne and we can definitely reference that a bit more than we do. We used to do it a lot last year.

    Interesting on the comparison with other rebuilding teams. The Nats are tough because they've had some extraordinary luck in terms of being able to get two franchise players in the draft. I'll have to think about it and come up with a suitable team -- or maybe a broader piece with several teams.

  • Their a lot of talk about an Olt for Garza trade. Is their another team that might try trade for Garza in the spring? And what kind of trade could they make?

  • In reply to Mitchener:

    Toronto has always liked Garza. The Angels are another possibility. The Orioles would be interested but won't trade Bundy and nothing else in that system is worth it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Gausman plus?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Oh, that's right, he can't be traded yet. Well, if Baltimore is still interested come June and is willing to give him up in a package for Garza, I'd be interested.

  • I've got the first pick in our season ticket draft next week and I've got no clue what game to choose. We all go to Opening Day together, but there's no real standout game on the schedule. The last two years we've had the Saturday night Red Sox game and the Yankees series. Nobody wants to go to the White Sox games anymore and the rest of the interleague games aren't great (Rangers in April? Houston?).

    What game do I pick?

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    Tough one. I think I'd like to see the Rangers of all those teams, but I feel you here. I'm not a big fan of Wrigley in April.

  • In reply to North Side Irish:

    I personally enjoy going to the White Sox games, but what about the old stand-bys. The Cardinals, Reds or Brewers?

  • John

    I hope you get over your flu bug really soon!

    Is it to early to offer YOUR prediction on how the Cubs will do this year?

    I certainly agree that we have improved our pitching, but, boy, our offense looks bad. (I believe Felzz referred to it as our "800 pound gorilla"). We'll be dead against LHPs again, 16 of our HRs have moved to Japan, and our lineup is almost unchanged from that which was shut out a league-worst 16 times last year and lost 13 of our last 16 games. So, I see another 100+ loss season, most by scores of 4-2 or 3-1.

    I usually try to attend 3 series a year, but can't see putting down $75 a pop to see us get beat while only putting 1 or 2 runs on the board.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Thanks DTP. I'm trying but it's been up and down. Apparently my dad had it for two weeks, so I may have another few days of this.

    I will make my prediction and write an article on it.

    The Cubs will struggle to score runs, so they're going to have to find a way to beat teams with defense and pitching.

  • Trout and the Angels in July is what I'd do. I would say the Rangers, but the fact it's in April means I prefer the Angels.

  • It's a big year for the development of the Cubs minor league system. I think is good article would be what we need to see from each player for them to progress as prospects. For instance:

    Brett Jackson: Don't K as much
    Baez: Show more plate discipline

    Then, you could give updates on where they stand with that progression throughout the year

  • In reply to TulaneCubs:

    I like it. Good idea.

  • Why doesn't Logan Watkins get more love? I mean, how many 2nd basemen are capable of putting up an OPS north of .800 in double A with speed?

    And of those that have--and are still under 24-- how many aren't on any top 20 prospect lists? That's more of a rhetorical question, but I'd assume not many.

  • In reply to JasonP:

    There's still some question as to how much of it will translate. Like his predecessor Darwin Barney, Watkins will have to prove himself every step of the way and keep proving himself even after he makes it. Such is the life of a grinder-type ballplayer.

  • Hey John, There are two topics I'd love to see you address.
    1. Comparing the Cubs farm system from one year ago and today. How much have they improved and where do they now stand in comparison to other teams?
    2. I have read articles that suggest these mlb TV deals have reached a peak suggesting the window is closing for teams to get a monster deal done. I would love to get your take on this as well as how it might impact the Cubs. Also, what impact will the fact that the Cubs currently are under 2 TV deals that do not expire at the same time have on getting a new deal done. Also does the fact that they are not competitive right now have and bearing on it?

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Thanks for the ideas. I know about the first. The 2nd is less of a specialty of mine bu I can certainly look into it.

  • John and Tom, I'm not sure if these are areas where you have good knowledge or not, but if you do, I'd be curious to see more comparative looks at other teams. For example:

    - How does each, say, three year outlook rate between all of the teams in the NL Central?

    - Who are the top five or ten MLB teams in terms of front office? GM, ownership, money, etc. all factor in.

    I know the Cubs have some good ones, but I know less about the other good ones (Nats, Rangers, A's, etc.)

  • In reply to mosconml:

    I have a good working knowledge of all baseball teams but my focus, of course, is on the Cubs. That kind of comparison would be interesting though in some cases, highly subjective. I'm going to have to think about how I could make that as based as much on objective criteria as possible.

  • John,

    One idea for an article would be, how will the cubs look when they are finally ready to contend? For instance, how good does our starting pitching staff need to be? Perhaps this can be phrased in terms of WAR, or innings pitched + FIP or ERA, or 1-2 aces and 2 mid rotation starters, etc. How many stud batters do we need? How good will the defense be? Will we have to sacrifice a couple defensive spots to get those big bats? How many of our players do you think will be prospects that have come up through our system vs. free agent pickups. All of this may be hard to predict, but there are other teams we can compare to and model ourselves after. I think perhaps a speculative look forward could be interesting. Thanks again for all you do, I love the site!

  • In reply to Ben19:

    I actually think the rotation is good enough to contend this year. The other stuff worries me! In all seriousness I can see combining this idea with a couple of others out there.

  • I like the Cubs Den to have a section called 'What Are They Doing Now?".......profile on ex-Cubs... various players since the 70's.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I go back to about '74-75 as far as players, games I can remember. Thanks for the idea.

  • John, Since you're under the weather why not post something that you're interested in that you normally wouldn't cover. It'd be of interest to many. Hope you're back to normal soon this bug is real nasty.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    Do you mean something non-baseball related?

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    Thom Brennaman was a terrible announcer while with the Cubs and he hasn't gotten any better with Fox. I can't believe there aren't better announcers out there.

  • In reply to Koenig:

    If anything, he's gotten worse.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Could be. I gave him the benefit of the doubt when he first came to the Cubs, but now realize he only got the job because of his last name. It was tough listening to him butcher the game yesterday.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    "Boy....Oh!!!! Boy"...Never misses an opportunity to rip the Cubs...he's a bitter a hole and his dad's a senile old tool....

  • John. If the rumored Garza for Olt / Perez deal went through last year. Where would you have placed these two on the Cubs top ten and how much of a bump in overall systems would they have provided?

  • In reply to Kinnick:

    Olt would be in the top 4 and the closest of them to being MLB ready. Upside not as high, but I think I'd put him 3rd behind Baez and Almora. Tough call.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I also think the Cubs wouldn't move much, maybe a spot -- but it's the imbalance in their system (i.e. the lack of pitching).

  • In reply to Kinnick:

    I don't think they would get much higher than 12th (BA?) until the pitching improves.

  • Another poster mentioned it, I would like to see a prospect list tied to area just underneath The Cubs Den heading right around "about Cubs Den", etc. for easy access. It would be great if you could go even deeper than the usual 40, with summaries, ETAs, ceilings & floors, areas for needed improvement, & up & down arrows with regards to the last prospect list to see how they are improving/regressing. I get a lot of the lesser known prospects confused sometimes, so this would help when you mention one.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Hmmm..interesting idea. Thanks ChiRy. I like the idea of a reference area for prospects.

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    My question: which do you rank higher, Campbell's Chicken Soup or Progresso Chicken Soup?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mom's chicken soup, of course! Good old fashioned home made!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Remember how Curly makes chicken soup on the Three Stooges?....

    Trouble with women today, they cannot cook like our mom's....these spoiled women want to be taken out for dinner all the time.....never wanted to learn the meals that their mother made for their father.......

    Old time Italian mom's were very good cooks.....years ago, us kids in the street could smell the meal being we see empty bags and cups of McDonalds liter in the streets.....

    Some years ago, I use to talk with bullpen players and the cook of what type of meal they were going to have after the game in the clubhouse......lots of pasta dishes.....

    Hendry started to ban certain outside foods in the clubhouse.....I saw a show about the new kitchen set-up about a year ago for the players at Wrigley.....and some say the Red Sox fell apart in Theo's last year with beer and Popeye's chicken being eat'in during the game with players like Beckett and others.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    !!?! My, such food for thought....

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    wow. so many things wrong with this. times have changed. why do women still need to cook all the meals like "their mother made for their father?"

    learn how to cook yourself. sheesh.

    I do the cooking in our family.

  • John, hope you are feeling better. Thanks for all you do to keep us informed. A subject to have you look deeply into is the financials of the Chicago Cubs. Looking at a pro-forma P&L along with annual capital outlays would be an eye opener for many of us. It always amazes me that so many people who get on websites are so free with an owner’s money. At the end of the day, baseball (like any sport) is entertainment and it is a business. It is not a hobby. There is serious money involved. Smart people (for the most part) own these teams. Many teams in professional are family owned. They are looking to do a few things along the way during their ownership. Hopefully, they want to win, provide entertainment for the community they serve, make a profit, create value in their franchise and have some fun while they do it.

    The Ricketts Family made a substantial investment to acquire the Cubs. They are making other investments that have been noted in your blog. However, we have never really looked at what the teams’ finances are and how adding players impacts the profitability (increased revenue minus expenses) and financial stability of the team. Clearly, Theo and the rest of the front office have multiple goals. Juggling the financial aspect of the business while building the “brand” is a little documented aspect of sports. Your analysis would be interesting to read.

  • In reply to Indy57:

    Thanks Indy57! That sounds like a heck of a project but potentially a very informative article. Thanks for the idea.

  • John, you said that you were thinking of incorporating pitchers into your recent position-by-position analyses. Is that still a possibility of appearing?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I think there's a good chance but with 5 SPs rather than one position player, I'm not exactly sure how I'll structure it.

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    Hey John,

    Sorry to hear you're down. I had this flu two weeks ago, and I'm still coughing and dragging ass. It's a rough one.

    As far as things I'd like you to comment on or weigh in on, since Spring Training is around the corner and since much of the talent on the team is Low A, A or AA, what should we expect from these kids during the Spring when the whole team is assembled? And that being said, is there anyone from the higher levels of the minor leagues that have a shot at making the club this year? Or are most of those guys already maxed out?

    Anyway, great site. You and the rest of the guys on the site do a great job of reporting what's happening, what's rumored and what to look out for. Thanks for the super-detailed analysis of so many players in the system.

  • In reply to David Johnson:

    Thanks, David. Doc told me it'd be a two week ordeal and I'm not through 10 days yet, so looks like I have some more to go. I am better but it's been up and down.

    We'll see all the 40 man roster guys early: McNutt, Whitenack, Watkins, and Villanueva (also holdovers like Szczur, Lake, etc.) Off and on we may see some guys get called up from the minor league complex as needed.

    Brett Jackson and Hector Rondon have the best chance of making the team out of spring (unless you count Fujikawa).

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If I were trying to make my case in ST I would like to be a right handed hitting 3b or cf.

  • John (or anyone else) - this might be fun...

    Do you remember the first baseball game you went to? Was it a Cubs game? Who were they playing? What year was it? What do you remember about the game?

    I'm older than most of the readers here. I went to a Cubs/Cards game in 63. I remember getting there late, it was the 2nd inning and the Cards were up. Stan Musial was at bat - that was the first MLB player I saw live. Bill White hit a HR that game and I believe it was Ray Washburn against Bob Buhl. The Cubs lost, thus indoctrinating me as a Cubs fan.

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    In reply to SFToby:

    I remember the first game but not the year. Would have been around '76 or '77 I think. Possibly '75. Cubs vs. Phillies. I still remember walking up the ramp to the field level seats down 3b and seeing how green the ivy was. It was so much more green than on TV. (this was at the peak of summer). The beauty of the park was the biggest thing that stuck in my mind, and I was under 7 or 8 maybe. The Cubs teams back then were in the prime of their suckiness, so not much to remember about the game itself.

    I do remember in those years getting autographs (which I still have) of several Cubs and employees. Ernie Banks, Vince Lloyd, Lenny Randle! haha, and others. I remember getting Lenny Randle's autograph, it was one of those rain delays that lasted forever, and the game would eventually be called. But while it was still under delay and the rain started to slow to a drizzle, Lenny came out next to the dugout and started signing for kids. I was late to get down there, and a good crowd of 30 or more kids were around, but he signed my program and seemed to sign forever for a ton of kids. Not a great player and I think he was only there one year, but a nice guy.

    Ernie and Vince I caught walking through the concession area and both were very nice. And I remember Vince Lloyd's fantastic voice in person.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    First at Wrigley was a July 4, 1975, double header sweep of the Pirates. Steve Stone pitched a complete game to start, I think it was a shutout. I recall Kessinger being intentionally walked to pitch to the right fielder (cannot remember who). Second game was 10 inning, 2-1 victory. Cubs pitcher pitced 9 innings, no earned runsand no decision. Plus July 4 fireworks. Was back two days later, the wind had shifted, and Parker, Hebner, Sanguillen put on a show, Cubs lose 18-12. Only thing I remember on the Cubs side was Pete Lacock being ejected ... My first non-spring training game ever was at Shea in 1970, seeing Seaver beat the Cubs.

  • At my first Cubs game I got to see a rookie Burt Hooton beat Tom Seaver and the NY Mets. That was 1971. My uncle was trying to explain the finer points of Burt's pitching performance to me-- a 2 hit gem--which at age 7 went a little over my head. But I was not too young to appreciate Ron Santo's home run! I had been to a several White Sox games before that, but my first visit to Wrigley (and getting to play hooky from school) definitely swayed me to being a Cubs fan, a lifelong addiction which I have endured with joy and agony.

  • Thoughts on Rizzo playing for Italy in the WBC?

  • In reply to irish0625:


  • In reply to irish0625:

    He was a given an offer he couldn't refuse.

  • My first baseball game, was a White Sox game......maybe around 1968...I believe the Yankees were playing....

    my first Cubs game....that had Seaver and Jenkins,,,,Cubs lost to the Mets....

    Best Cubs win I saw in person......Henry Rodriquez hitting a three run shot at Marlins Park in the 9th inning for a come behind victory for the Cubs.......Cubs were down to their last strike....there was about 16,000 fans in the park....about 100 Marlins fans.....they were talking smack to us in the 9th.....Henry looked so bad on the first two strikes off of Mantei....then Henry launched one to deep center...once it left his bat, you knew it was gone..........the entire stadium went nuts.....15,900 Cubs fans went crazy in Miami.........I looked at the face of those Marlins fans.....they were part of that night is that I shared that Cubs win with my Dad.

  • We moved into a new house in 1952 when I was 10 years old, and the back yard (about 10 foot by 15 foot) was just black dirt. My mother offered to give me money to go to a Cubs game if I spaded the entire yard so she could plant grass. I worked on it for about a month, and finally earned the two dollars for the games (a double header). $1.25 for a grandstand ticket, 25 cents for a hot dog. 10 cents for a coke, and 10 cents each way for the bus/el/subway ride.

    Hank Sauer hit a home run and Bob Rush won the first game and Dee Fondy hit a triple to win the second game for Paul Minner.

    I even got to keep the extra 20 cents.

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    My first Cubs game was August 10, 1974, a doubleheader against the Giants. The Cubs called up a secondbaseman by the name of Rob Sperring who hit a homerun and a double in the first game. Immediately he was my favorite Cub. Rick Reuschel pitched game one-I kept score and still have the scorecard. Bobby Bonds dropped a fly ball to right in the nightcap that lead to a Cubs win.

  • In reply to Dale Miller:

    Being a PA kid my first Cubs game was September 24, 1984 in Pittsburgh. Some may remember the date. LOL. My dad came to my elementary school to get me out of class I had no idea what was going on. Then he says we're going to see history. Cubs beat Pirates 4-1 and Cubs go to their first postseason since 45. The rest is history, unfortunately.

    My first game at Wrigley wasn't until June of 2005, Cubs-Red Sox.

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    In reply to Zippy2212:

    My first Cubs game was Saturday August 12, 1972 against the Mets In Wrigley. Best recollection is that Willie Mays hit a HR while my Dad and I were just coming up from getting hot dogs for the family. We lived in Western IL at the time and had to drive 3 hours to get there (and three hours back later that pm). Cubs lost 2-1 on a Tommy Agee lead-off HR in the 10th -- both Hooten and Seaver went 9 innings in pitcher's duel. Because we could get WGN that far from Chicago, the Cubs were my team from early on (with Jack Brickhouse as my guide).

  • John

    You're not going to like this request and it will probably make your flu-bug worse, but here goes.

    How about writing why the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team has been so successful?

    11 WS titles, 5 since 1964 (best in the NL and 2nd only to the Yankees)
    18 NL Pennants, 9 since 1964
    11 Division titles, including 7 during the 2000s.
    39 members in the Hall of Fame.

    They've had their share of injuries (Carpenter and Wainwright both had TJ surgery), lost lots of free agents, and don't go on wild spending sprees. Part of their success has to be that they never seem to make a bad trade. But, somehow they've installed a winning tradition and keep showing up in the playoffs year after year. So, what's their formula and how can we get some of it in Wrigleyville?

    Thanks, John, and get better soon.

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    They've had some pretty good managers in the last 40 years, and good GM's. One thing that is drastically different than the Cubs (besides the record) is the stability. They haven't fired managers and GM's every 3-5 years. The trade success is alarming. Not many teams have a solid track record with few, if any, real gaffes. They draft well. I would think that somewhere along the line they put a good farm system in place including coaches and every successive GM has continued that path, but I'd also like to see what John/Tom, etc. have to say.

    They've had 7 managers since 1965, with 2 lasting 2 years each (Rapp and Boyer, '77 to '80), and Matheny only there 1 year so far. Otherwise the other 4 were there 5 years (Torre,) or 10,12, and 16 years (Herzog, Shoendienst, Larussa). 3 GM's in that same period were there 10 years or more each.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    They've been juicing as long, or longer, than any team.

  • Nats sign Soriano.

  • The Cards always seem to be able to write the book on trading and drafting successfully, don't they? Really good scouting? Drafting from a position of strength as opposed to filling holes?
    Beyond that, they always seem to be able to instill core fundamentals in their players. They've always had the small ball game down, and always seem to capitalize on an opponents mistake.

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    Hi John,

    I was thinking of Michael Bourne this morning and had a thought. Could a team like the cubs bring something of value to the braves in a sign and trade scenario? My thought is that the braves are in a win now mode while the cubs need their draft picks. Is there potential for a fit if the cubs can offer the braves something that they need? Now the question is who woul the cubs offer and for that I have not the answer. I am sure the braves want decent value, but it may be worth it to the braves to get a proven commodity.
    I guess I am not in love with Bourne but maybe this works for another club. I just wonder if that is how Bourne gets moved at this point.


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    1. How do you think the WBC effects players that participate? With Rizzo playing for Italy do you think he'll be more ready for the season due to seeing better pitching earlier? Or would you rather not have players play due to risk of injury?

    2. With a lot of the Cubs young talent set to start at A ball and most likely move up this year, can you do a more in depth piece on the minor league coaches? What their previous playing experience was, their coaching experience, past success and/or failures... etc.

  • Hmmm... I have been really interested in the farm system and all the up an coming prospects and love the ideas so far on those and related topics. I would like to see something on draft strategy for the Cubs. What are possible scenarios. Is it possible that even though the perceived need is pitching they may go with a position player. Why might they do that? What are the relative odds of pitchers/position players making good on their potential at the MLB level considering things like injury potential etc. Maybe a short list of potential draft candidates that may make sense for them dependent on different strategies they could take? A list that could be debated and changed as we progress toward the draft?

  • Hairston Expected To Choose Team This Week

    By Ben Nicholson-Smith [January 15 at 4:09pm CST]

    4:09pm: The Cubs also talked to Hairston, Heyman reports (on Twitter). Hairston could complement left-handed hitters such as David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz in Chicago.


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    Hey John, why don't you just give us what we really want and rank every player in the system. Or at least the top 100.

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