Cubs Notes: Goodbye WGN? Matt Garza, Derek Johnson,and other notes

We'll take a short break from our minor league preview and address some recent Cubs news...

Cubs to leave WGN?

This should probably not come as a surprise but Paul Sullivan of the Tribune writes that Tom Ricketts will open the Cubs TV rights fees  for discussion starting this year.

"Obviously local media rights have been increasing in value," Ricketts said. "Hopefully at some point we will be able to get more value for our media rights. It's just something that's playing out over time."

Many have said WGN  received a "sweetheart deal" when ownership transferred from Sam Zell to Ricketts. The Cubs have been with WGN since 1948 but the need to draw in revenue and compete with other big market TV deals likely trumps loyalty here, though Ricketts said that WGN's ability to reach fan's across the nation will still be a factor.

Increased revenue will allow the Cubs to cover costs such as the Wrigley renovation and -- one would presume - allow them to significantly increase the payroll as the team adds pieces and becomes more competitive.

Matt Garza suffers "minor" injury

The Cubs and Matt Garza can't seem to catch a break.  The latest stroke of bad luck occurred as Garza was throwing batting practice.  He was throwing the ball well and was scheduled to throw 40 pitches overall.  Then, halfway through, he felt a pain in his side. It appears that it's a strained lat muscle and he's going to be okay.  Thankfully, it wasn't his rehabbing elbow, but the missed time will set his timetable back.  If Garza was under team control for a couple of years, it probably wouldn't matter much, but he is  on the last year of his contract with no extension in sight.

Ideally, any team interested in trading for him would like to see him fully healthy before the season starts.  Then they can confidently trade for him and be assured of at least getting a comp pick if and when he leaves.  That adds trade value for the Cubs.  However, if there is still uncertainty heading into the season, then teams may wait and try to acquire Garza on a rental when they know he's healthy.  Unfortunately, the Cubs won't get as much for 2 months of Garza as they would for one year of him plus a draft pick.

Derek Johnson looking to develop the next David Price

Patrick Mooney of CSN writes a nice article on Cubs new minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson.  The Cubs are pinning big hopes on being able to develop their own David Price within their system and Johnson is a big part of that.  As for the real David Price, Johnson downplays that he'll be a big factor in landing the ace LHP, saying that he's pretty much going to have his pick of teams once he's a free agent.

Cubs prank Dale Sveum

The Cubs surprised their manager when they all took off their jackets during a team meeting to reveal an orange hunting jacket.  They then presented Sveum with his own hunting jacket, except that his had a target on it.

You may remember that Sveum was accidentally shot, though not seriously hurt, by former teammate Robin Yount during a hunting trip.

As to whose idea it was?

“I don’t know,” Sveum said. “I haven’t gotten to the bottom of it yet. But God help them when I find out.”




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  • They could obviously switch to a full on online subscription and raise a significant amount of revenue, but potentially lose a large number of eyes.

    Thus, why I believe the TV contracts are getting bigger in value.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Hmmm. That could be. Would you pay to watch the Cubs? I would because I'm hopelessly obsessed, but I'm wondering what the general consensus is.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    How would a subscription model work? I just paid $150 to watch the Cubs with MLB.TV, I live in Wisconsin, but that revenue is shared between MLB and the clubs if I'm not mistaken. If they charged say $75-100 could they make a significant enough money to justify this? Would it be a much higher monthly fee and then why would I want to pay for that versus the subscription model currently available? Would there be pre/post game shows and analysis along with this or just games like the MLB.TV model? Could I stream games on my PS3 and through my Panasonic Viera like now? So many questions, lol.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I would pay in a heart beat,but I really thought they'd build their own channel,much like the Yankees Yes network. Money obviously would be a huge factor with start up costs I would expect it to be enormous.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm a bad example probably,... as I probably only watch a few games (of any team) each summer on the TV. I am not likely to pay much extra to watch the Cubs on a dedicated network. I would probably watch more games (Cubs specificially) if my local DC area cable network carried WGN (they don't),... but get most of my baseball fix each Summer in person at the local AA minor league team for a couple of games.

    Live Baseball is much more interesting IMO.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    No doubt. Nothing better than seeing a game live.

  • What was the amount of the Dodgers TV contract deal? Wasn't it $7 Billion for 25 years!.......well fans, there are more Cubs fans than there are Dodgers fans or any other MLB team on this earth....and the demand to watch the Cubs is worth more than $7 Billion I believe...........that billboard sign revenue issue is really petty cash to the Cubs......the lawsuits by rooftop bar owners and city politics is not worth it........the real revenue will be the major tv deal the Cubs will have after 2014..........then watch the top elite free agent players and their agents who will want to play for the Cubs...........if the Cubs score big, which they will, it is the beginning of a larger Dynasty in terms of revenue than any other MLB team can dream about.....the value of the Cubs would also skyrocket.

    Mr Ricketts, you and your family just hit the jackpot without winning a World if you can accomplish that also by 2018, oh baby, look out.....the money will be flowing in non stop.

    Cubs network that is 365/24/7 would make it.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I can't even imagine this town if the Cubs win the WS. Ricketts will be able to wallpaper his home with money.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed,.... The Cubs fans would practically Cannonize Ricketts and Theo and Hoyer IF a WS appearance was made,.... even more so if they won.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Look at how Mike Ditka is lionized for winning one Super Bowl.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Indeed. Look how Mike Ditka is lionized for winning one Super Bowl.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    But which came first, the accessibility or the fans? When the White Sox went with Sportsvision, after first dumping WGN for Channel 60, they ended up with maybe 30,000 homes who could watch them. The Cubs, meanwhile, stayed with WGN which became the Superstation and that's how they built their huge national following -- they were in millions of homes coast-to-coast. They were accessible. You take away that accessibility and you will lose fans in the long run. It's basic marketing: make it as easy as possible for the most people to access your product. You don't exploit an existing fan base. You understand how that fan base grew and keep doing it, as much as the modern media universe will allow.

  • when i lived in KS one year I paid for the MLB radio package only. The year after that I paid for the TV and Radio package. Watched and listened from work. Now I found a way to listen for free.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Free is nice! Always enjoy baseball on the radio -- especially since the Cubs hired Pat Hughes, who has been my favorite since I used to listen to Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau as a kid. I'm much more a visual person than an audio person, though, so I'd have to get both.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I too grew up listening to Vince and Lou, and loved them. But I find Pat Hughes continued attempts at humor and selling his books/tapes to be tiresome. He hasn't been helped by his partners either. As much as I loved Santo, he was terrible in the booth. Moreland isn't any better.

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    In reply to lokeey:

    Which is...

  • I thought Sullivan's article was a joke. He didn't miss an opportunity to rip Rickett's talking about the team shedding payroll, but he failed to mention that the payroll being shed are bad contracts from the Tribune regime. He talks about how Ricketts can't sustain the payroll the Tribune had and talks about all these people who have gotten fired, yet he says nothing about the money and effort that has been redirected towards aquiring and developing the younger players. I'd say it's a joke he even has a job, but then am reminded of who his employer is...

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    You're right that he never talks positively about the Cubs new direction. He does still seem a bit embittered by the Cubs changeover. Being skeptical is one thing but it seems more like cynicism the past couple of years.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's why I prefer to read the Cubs Den. This John Arguello guy really knows what he is talking about. Now there's a writer I respect.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Haha! Thanks! I'll pass that on to this John Arguello guy ;)

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    I agree with you 100%...I've been following the Cubs as a die hard since Thad Bosley tossed me a ball at my first game my dad took me to in 1984. My dad passed from pancreatic cancer a short time ago, and before he did, I wrote a letter about him to WGN. Matt Boltz scheduled us to visit my Dad's idol, Ron Santo, in the booth, and the experience was, well, Heavenly. John Arguello (and Tom, Felzz, and Marcel), draw me to this site at least 3 times a day for what is the highlight of my Cubs life.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One thing Hendry was good at was media relations. It didn't help the team get any better, but the media loved the guy.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Hendry is a good guy. I think most people would like him if they met him. He and his staff also shared a lot more info than these guys. The game has changed a bit with Theo and company.

    I think it's a good thing. I think writers really have to understand the game and the process, otherwise they'll get left behind.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's always struck me that Hendry is known as a good guy in an industry where -- in my admittedly very limited experience with it -- there are lots of decent folk working.

    It's like a bunch of Ph.D. students referring to the smart one.

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    In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Amen to that. I've repeatedly voiced my gripes about tribune writers on this site. The fact they get paid to post piles of crap day after day still boggles my mind.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    We are all Marcel!

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    I'll go out on a limb and say that most of the people who got fired probably deserved fired. That said, Clown Kenney somehow still has a job so right there's one bit of unfinished business.

    They also hired a lot of guys. God forbid that should be mentioned.

  • I used the MLB app last season, had all your typical functions + radio for I think 10$. Super handy for Spring Training games, nice little gameday feature for pitch location and occasionally velo as well.

    If D.J wants his own David Price, suppose we should just draft Manaea and let Johnson work with him :) BTW kileymcd had some nice info on his game Friday night, a good guy to follow if some of you aren't already.

  • In reply to Furiousjeff:

    I really hope Manaea is there. Houston has that top pick and we can be pretty sure they won't take Appel.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Why? Isn't he still the top ranked prospect?

  • In reply to John57:

    They tried to take him last year and couldn't work out a pre-draft deal. I imagine he won't be any different this year, not with Boras as his agent. Houston probably will repeat strategy of below slot deal for top pick and spread money out later in the draft.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Doesn't Manaea also have Boras for an agent? If Houston repeats their strategy this year, then Boras probably won't agree with it again whether it is with Appel or Manaea. BTW I really like Manaea too but you never know what Epstein will do. I trust his decision.

  • In reply to John57:

    Good point :)

    Houston may need to go in a different direction altogether if they plan on using the same strategy.

    We still have time. I think the Cubs will take the BPA regardless of position. Right now it looks like those two, but things can change. It'd be surprising if we didn't see a new player or two enter the conversation.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Austin Meadows just feels right for them. High School kids work well with the timeline they're looking at.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Meadows is the guy with the loudest tools. I'm getting a feeling, though, that they might like Frazier in that scenario. Would be quite a rise if he went first, but I think he's the closest thing to a sure thing for HS bats.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I've been reading this a lot, but I am not sure the Astros will pass on Appel, if they think he's the top prospect in this draft. A lot of people have been pointing out that because they passed last year, they'll pass again this year.

    First of all, both the Astros and Cubs passed on Appel last year. I am not sure why people think Astros will pass on him like they did last year, but the Cubs won't.

    Second, the talent in the draft is different than last year's. There may not be Correa in this draft, i.e., a player of both similar (or better talent) who will also take less money.

    Third, supposedly this draft isn't as deep. So the Astros might not be as inclined to spread the money, since they might not rate this year's tough signs as highly as last year's.

    Fourth, Appel has less leverage to hold out max money as he is a senior this year.

  • In reply to CubsML:

    The Astros actually had Appel rated as their top guy -- or at least that's implied by the fact they attempted to negotiate with him first.

    I'm not sure that was the case with the Cubs. And another difference is the Cubs were picking lower in the draft. They knew they couldn't offer Appel the money he was demanding -- certainly without hurting themselves later in the draft. We know Pitt offered over the max two picks later and it wasn't enough. Not sure the Cubs could have signed him even if they wanted to.

  • You do your thing, Derek Johnson, you beautiful bastard, you.

    I'll miss the Cubs on WGN if it goes away, and losing that national presence will hurt us down the road imo, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if we go the NESN/YES route. Especially with Ricketts liking the Red Sox model so much.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    That wouldn't surprise me at all either.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Once the Cubs started reducing the number of their games that they showed on WGN they also started reducing the number of people who grow up to become Cub fans.

  • Agreed. :\

  • Day baseball, fan friendly announcers, and WGN had more to do with the legions of Cub fans than anything that happened on the field.

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    Was there really a chance of Garza being traded before the season? I get the feeling that the Cubs are wiling to play out the first half of the season with their roster in tact in order to attract fans and hope for dark horse contention.

    I'm confident that Garza will prove himself healthy as the season begins. By July, no one will remember this freak occurrence.

  • In reply to Matt Zeller:

    If someone gave theme surplus value before the season? Absolutely, I think they'd trade him. They won't get as much for him in July. Even Greinke only pulled in Segura and two decent pitching prospects.

  • In reply to Matt Zeller:

    If Garza's lat strain turns out to be serious his trade value as well as his free agent value will suffer. He is one significant injury from becoming a high risk signing for big money and years.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    That's true, 44, but it's also true of any top pitcher; actually any pitcher at all. They're all one "pop" away from the end of a career.
    That's why, as Theo said, we must develop those waves and waves of pitching: Sign 'em up, coach 'em up, bring 'em up....

    Hope Garza is over his injury bug. We need him either on the mound and in the clubhouse, or as a chip for roster improvement.

  • Tribune Corp has been sticking it to Cubs fans by underpaying themselves for Cubs Wgn broadcast fees, all the money went into paying for the tribune execs corporate jet, salaries, contract extensions, golden parachutes, broadcast studios in the most expensive real estate in the midwest, and on and on. EVerything except buidling a winning Cubs team and keeping their building from falling down. The tribune business went broke but they had a laot of Cubs cash to spend on the way down. Now I hope the Ricketts let Wgn know what a fair and decent media deal looks like and then says good bye to the whole sorry bunch of them. I have no nostalgia for this bunch of wgn parasites, cubs fans will be better off without them. Paul Sulivans journalistic career peaked when he was a intern for Royko and its been downhill ever since. Be good if the cubs media beat reporters could also be "redone" they must be way way past they're use by date.

  • Things have to change if the Cubs want to win. That means change on and off the field. I would hate to see the Cubs leave WGN, but I already pay for the MLB package and I'm sure they would be included anyway.

    I promised never to question any moves Ricketts/Theo/Ted make and I will not start now. Better TV deal = more money = better team = Cubs world series champs?

    After 100+ years of losing - nothing is sacred!! Go Cubbies!!

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    In reply to jaxx51:

    I want whats best for the Cubs...but I also want to be able to watch them. Like so many others, I originally became a Cubs fan because of WGN. Living in Virginia, I dont know how often Id be able to see the team without the games on the station. As it is, I usually catch about two a week. With games just on ESPN or FOX, I fear I might be down to one a month at that point, at best.

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    In reply to Bender13:

    Is MLB tv not an option for you? It's been a godsend for me.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Up until this year, I have been a subscriber to the MLB package thru Directv. This year, I'm changing to MLBtv and for $20 extra, I just had to add the minor league games. Being able to view the replays of games that would otherwise be blacked out is especially appealing. I think I'll be watching a lot more baseball this summer.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I can't get broadband where I live. I'm a DirecTV subscriber, so I could, in theory, get their package. However, my wife already "lets" me get Sunday Ticket, and since I have to choose between that and the MLB package, the NFL wins. I need to watch every NFL game my team plays. I can watch 25% of the Cubs games on WGN and still be happy. Losing WGN would be a kick in the pants.

  • Sullivan is ridiculous... Cubs Den is the best, imo. There are other blogs/writers worth reading. But nothing from the Trib is.

    I applauded the D Johnson signing. That's got nothing to do with David Price - though I'd love to get him on the Cubs. I love the fact that we are making the investments in facilities & people to develop our most valuable assets...

    I'm a big fan of Manaea, but DJ will prove his worth with all of those pitchers selected in rounds 2-20+ too. I love the SP depth we have this year. But we are still in need of a clear cut #1 type guy.... I personally don't care where they find him.

    Next year is finally here Boys & Girls!

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier!

    I totally agree in that we should be excited with the whole development process. It's what many of us have been hoping for for a long time.

  • John I enjoy readig your articles.

    Once the TV contract is up it will be interesting what the new deal looks like. Also people forget the Chicago Tribune increased the Cubs payroll to make the team more appealing to be purchased.

    People should also know that Chicago Now (Cubs Den) is owed by the Chicago Tribune.

  • Campana traded to AZ for 2 17 yr old pitchers.

  • I Never ever found such edifying blogs.sbobet

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