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Cubs Notes: Castro, Renovation Issues, Offseason Plans and Your Daily Sveum

Cubs Notes: Castro, Renovation Issues, Offseason Plans and Your Daily Sveum

I know not all of you are minor league fans -- especially as deep as we're getting into with the last 3 pieces, so let's check around the net for the latest on Cubs news...

  • Won't go very far for this one as our own Felzz notes that Starlin Castro is hitting well now that he has been freed from constrictions.  He went 3 for 4 yesterday and, if nothing else, ends the year on a high note.  I still think at least some of Castro's issues came about because he seems eager to please and listen to everyone rather than taking the advice and incorporating it into his own style.  I believe that will happen now that he is being aggressive in the strike zone again, talking more balls up the middle.   Some of that pitch selection stuff will stick and while he probably won't ever be a walk machine, he can at least see more pitches and wait for that one he can drive.
  • Paul Sullivan writes that the Wrigley renovations are hitting a snag.  According to Sullivan, "Ricketts remains leery about building the left field video scoreboard and large right field advertising sign that are key sources of ad money because owners of rooftop buildings overlooking the park haven't guaranteed they won't sue if the boards block their views."  It's getting to be quite frustrating and it's already known that the Cubs won't have that extra revenue to spend this offseason -- though I don't think that will stop them from pursuing Masahiro Tanaka and perhaps a trade or two.
  • Hunter Pence is going to sign for 5 years and $90M which makes you wonder what it's going to cost for guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.  I'm fading fast on the possibility of signing those guys and I'm beginning to believe that Tanaka will be their only serious pursuit this offseason.  I do believe they'll explore trades but I'm hearing David Price is very unlikely, they'll kick the tires on Giancarlo Stanton but the price is exorbitant in terms of prospects.  Carlos Gonzalez remains a possibility at the right price in terms of prospects and finances.  It's also possible the Cubs could try to get involved in a 3 team deal to try and lessen the prospect cost.
  • Dale Sveum will be the story until Monday and there will be all kinds of speculation between now and then.  I think my view most closely aligns with Patrick Mooney of CSN and Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation.  That's not saying other views are wrong, but their thought process on the matter is one I can relate to. It strikes me as a balanced, even-keeled appraoch which as you all know, is how I usually try to approach things.  Mooney writes that Ausmus is not on the radar yet and I do trust him on that, though we have a reliable source that believes he'd be on that short list.  At any rate, even though it's speculation, I think that Ausmus would be an interesting choice and one that should be considered.  He only lacks experience.
  • More on Sveum:  Epstein addressed the media and promised to clarify the situation on Monday.  A couple of interesting sound bytes came out of that and, of course, they're open to all sorts of interpretation.  One interesting tweet came from ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers, "Theo Epstein says there will be clarity on any coaching decisions on Monday. But was adamant his previous comments meant nothing significant."  His previous comments had to do with the announcements coming on Monday -- which leads you to think, why would he say the comments about upcoming changes didn't mean anything significant.  Wouldn't a manageria change be a significant announcement?  More than likely, he probably just wants people to stop reading into his every word.
  • On that last note, one thing that I've been adamant about is that I believe the Cubs are just following process and that we shouldn't read anything to the Cubs waiting until Monday to make their announcement. Theo seems to back up that line of thinking with this quote, "The whole process is evaluation, discussion, decision, inform, announcement," Epstein said Friday. "That's what I refer to as the 'process' in making changes within the organization."  I posed a question to ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg about whether the Cubs had the same timetable last year -- only we didn't pay attention because nobody was speculating Sveum would get fired.  Now that the speculation exists, perhaps we're reading too much into the announcement date. That's not to say Sveum will stay or not stay, just that I don't think the timing has anything to do with it either way, nor do I think it directly has to do with Girardi. It's their normal process and I don't believe they'd change it over things they cannot control or for anything on which they don't have complete information.

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    I remember when the deal was done the story was that Tom wanted to stay at Wrigley and the other siblings wanted to explore other locations.

    I'm now wondering if that was genuine or just a negotiating tactic. (I lean to the latter.) But, if it was genuine, the continuing frustration about building the signs would suggest that will come up again in the off season. This can't meander on until the end of the contract -- real revenue needs to come in.

    I support the rebuild, but we also need some financial resources to attract our Jason Werth.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think it's a lot of tactic. From what I understand, the Cubs would prefer to stay from every standpoint.

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    I love how in all the pictures you choose regarding Sveum it looks like he is isolated and forgotten in comparison to Jed/Theo. Funny stuff.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Haha: We'll see if I can find another appropriate picture on Monday.

  • John--if Sveum is, indeed, sent to the glue factory, what are the chances of retaining Bosio and/or McKay? Both those guys seem to have done a good job and it'd be a shame to lose them.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think most managers are allowed to pick their own coaches -- especially those with the stature of a Joe Girardi, if he is indeed the replacement.

  • On "Talking Baseball," the consensus was that Sveum would be around another year, but a couple of his coaches wouldn't, which would jive with insignificant.

    On the rebuild, it is clear that Ricketts wants something similar to Boston and Baltimore. He already has the patio, and probably wants enough signage similar to Boston finally blocking the Hugo Chavez Oil Company sign. But if he hasn't applied for the permits by now, and thinks he can get a guarantee that the rooftops will not sue without him giving them any legal consideration (some benefit in return to make a binding contract), he may as well move to Rosemont. Again, the consensus was on "Talking Baseball" that if he isn't ready to break ground now, it won't be done until maybe 2019-2020.

  • In reply to jack:

    I waver on it a bit everyday. Was at 75% he'd stay, went down to 50% or so, now I'm calling it 60-40 he stays. I'm sticking with that.

    Interesting that Hugo Chavez started his own oil company. Did he have a change of heart and become a capitalist?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John I'm wondering if after all is said and done why the Cubs just don't pack things up and move to another location. Would there be legal issues in doing so? If they are bringing in a whole new team why not just go all the way.

  • In reply to RClax3:

    From what's been in the press, the only one would be being stuck with a landmark that Ricketts couldn't use for anything else.

    Beth Murphy admitted on the radio that while there is the contract with the Cubs to pay the 17% or whatever royalty so that the bleacher owners could get a view, there was nothing in it about what would happen if the Cubs moved out.

    Other than the consequences of the landmark, Ricketts is dealing with private property, not a 40 year lease with some stadium authority keeping the Cubs there.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No, he seized some private company already in Venezuela known as CITGO. Many people in the US immediately started boycotting it, 7-11 changed its supplier, and many other gas stations changed to Shell.

    Expropriating capital is not capitalism.

    I'm surprised you didn't know about that.

  • In reply to jack:

    I was just teasing and my way of saying we don't talk politics here. It's a baseball forum, you know.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Other than sticking the name of the putative owner, I didn't inject politics here, you did.

    The point I was making was that the Red Sox figured out a way to block out advertising on which it wasn't making money, just like the Cubs tried to do with the Horseshoe Casino roof. However, the Cubs use of the Toyota sign didn't accomplish that, and they apparently made a deal with that property owner for a sign more to their liking.

  • John
    Here's a suggestion for Monday's requiem, ... er, column.

    Last Spring, you gave us an opportunity to predict how many games the Cubs would win this year. If I remember correctly, you also gave us a do-over after it became apparent how offending our offense was going to be.

    So how about a column for us to 'fess up and say how our predictions worked out :
    o Cubs played worse than predicted
    o Cubs played about the same as predicted
    o Cubs played better than predicted

    Then, put our "excuses" in the comments : what went worse than expected, what went as expected, and what went better than expected.

    Looking forward to it ...

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Ha! If I find that I'll do that. Going out later today but if any of you find it, please link.

  • Not a bad idea Puck.

    Although I will readily admit I figured 70-72 wins,.... in part because I wasn't anticipating how absolutely horrible the bullpen was going to be in April & May. Even half those blown saves back and I would have been on the mark as it looks like we are heading to ~66-67 wins.

    My biggest 'oopsie' was my assertion that Ian Stewart would be a factor this season. Completely screwed that one up - although we got a good combined year as far as power and RBIs from the Valbuena/Ransom/Murphy 3B combo to partially compensate for that shortcoming.

    Starting pitching was generally OK. Defense was solid at least once Barney took back over from Lillibridge at 2B. OBP was horrible pretty much the whole year and (as predicted by most of us) offense sputtered most of the time. Once Marmol/Camp/Dolis/Fujikawa had been swapped out for Gregg/Strop/Parker/Grimm & after Rondon started to put it together - the bullpen was actually fairly solid.

    Pitching coaches should be given huge bonuses for their continued work with Wood and Arietta and the 2nd wave of the bullpen mob. Hitting coaches need to be replaced - 'cause what they were trying just didn't work at all.

    I'm apparently one of those in the apparent minority here that thinks that Sevum needs to stay. He (IMO) did a fairly good job most of the year with the hand that he was delt. But we'll see about that on Monday.

  • 1. John, what was Greenberg's response?
    2. I still think Sveum is gone (especially if a similar situation didn't come up last year). No need to choose Monday as a decision day if he's not gone. If he stays, why not tell him? If still deciding, why announce the decision deadline? Theo must know how the media works.
    3. I think moving from Wrigley isn't off the table, and that's why the Cubs won't begin on the non-revenue renovations until they know the rooftops won't sue. If the Cubs can't lock down revenue, they'll feel forced to move. If this isn't true, why wait on the renovations that would help the team?
    4. When I first read this post's headline, I thought it said "Castro renovation issues". Still fitting.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    He said he didn't remember if they did or not, but that it was a good question.

    With response to the 2nd point, my suspicion is they do it the same way, same time, every year with every employee, which is what Theo is trying to tell everyone, but nobody seems to be listening. In other words, process is process -- that part remains consistent. They may fire Sveum, but the evaluation process that leads to that conclusion should be the same. It shouldn't depend on situation or circumstance.

    I'll be shocked if they move. That would be the absolute last resort.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I hear you on the move, but then I just don't understand why the Cubs wouldn't start renovating the clubhouse. That was never a revenue generator in the first place. So the only thing I can think of is if the politics are SO bad that they no longer feel confident about their long-term revenue, they'd be resigned to move.

    That or the financials truly are in dire straits. Those are the only two reasons I see for waiting to re-do the clubhouse.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    The move threat would be a bluff if they start on the clubhouse. Probably is anyway.

  • Not to often you can nab a front of the rotation starter at age 24. I think they need to spend the money now and make sure they get Tanaka. We don't need to sign any of the top position players at all right now. There's always trades to make and free agents at the end of every year. We can always wait for that but a young pitcher to have for a long time is a must considering they don't pop up very often if ever. So Tanaka has to be our top priority. Our manager next year is gonna lose regardless so we need to get someone who is a people person, knows the game, and can help the younger players out a little bit. That's all we need from a manager in 2014. I trust the FO will do what's best and make the right call whatever that may be

  • In reply to INgold91:

    Agreed. He has to be their top priority.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    He might be the only priority.

  • I have long said that my general rule for signing FAs would be to never sign a position player and only spend money on pitching and more pitching. While I'm no stat/saber guru by any stretch, I respect their value. But the bottom line is, always has been and always will be: PITCHING!

    Indeed, I've been playing around with all the various ESPN stats. And the one and only Team Stat that correlates exactly to the five NL teams in the playoffs is Team ERA.

    Not OBP. Not OPS. Not Avg., nor RBI, nor hits, nor walks, not even Runs. Only Team ERA!

    That's why if Tanaka truly is a sure fire TOR guy, we cannot pass up the opportunity to get him. He automatically makes us at least 10 games better. Tanaka, Shark, Wood, EJax, Arrietta. I like that a lot.

  • 2nd that John, Tanaka will be a the priority this off-season. As for Sveum, it's look like his is a goner ....just a gut feeling. Dumping him for Ausmus would not sense , the Cubs would want a guy with some coaching/managing background. If not Girardi or Gardenhire, I could see Mike Maddux, if he's not promoted by Texas first, or Sandy Alomar. The Cubs liked both of them last go around and I'm not convinced the Cubs would be looking for anexperienced manager if they let Sveum go. If Sveum goes it's because they think he's not the guy for younger players after all, not because he's not winning.

  • i dont mean to insult anyone here, but the cubs are absolutely not moving out of wrigley field. most of the mystique around the cubs has to do with the fact that wrigley field is such a great place to be and that the team hasnt won in 100+ years. if u take the cubs out of wrigley then half of that mystique is gone. the city of chicago doesnt want the cubs going anywhere, the neighboorhood certainly doesnt want them going anywhere, the rooftop owners ABSOLUTELY dont want them to go anywhere and the cubs dont want them to leave as well so it is not happening. i understand that it is very frustrating for everyone involved, and that includes us the fans, but this situation is simply not going to happen and we just have to wait and see how they resolve it.

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    In reply to jshmoran:

    I believe you are right, but what leverage do the Cubs have?

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    I could be wring, but I think Wrigleyville and Chicago have more to lose than the Cubs do if the Cubs were to move. Sure, lost fans. But hey, advertising everywhere! One big-ass billboard can cover a lot of lost seats. And don't forget you can build a bigger ballpark that seats more people in the first place, and keep the ivy, the brick, etc. Perfect? No. Still profitable? I think so.

    Either way, I also don't think the Cubs want to move, but I think they should put more pressure on the city as I do feel they have the leverage. I touched on this above too, but my post above was about the fact that I'm confused why all of the renovations have to be tied to the rooftop stuff. Why the non-revenue renovations?

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    If the Cubs spend a lot of money to fix the clubhouse then they are essentially saying we will never ever move any time soon. This give all the leverage to the roof top owners who will use it to screw the Cubs to the max. They will then for sure sue the Cubs if the signs or video screen (which the Cubs say they need for additional revenue) blocks any view on any roof top. And the Cubs will still stay because they just spent millions to upgrade the clubhouse.

    I say the Cubs give them a deadline to sign an agreement not to sue over blocked views and if they don't then the only alternative is to move. Well maybe if it comes close to the Cubs moving, Rahm will "persuade" the rooftop owners to be more agreeable. Who knows what will happen.

    I do agree with you the city of Chicago and the Wrigleyville area will be the biggest losers if the team moves to the suburbs.

  • If this was answered on another thread please forgive me, but does anyone know what happens if the Twins and Cubs tie.

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    In reply to Lee Smith HOF:

    Worse record last year -- Cubs -- gets the higher pick.

  • In reply to Lee Smith HOF:

    Cubs get #4 if both tie. They had worse record in 2012 which is tie breaker.

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    So for those who like looking at the standings upside down, the Cubs will have either the fourth or fifth pick next year. Either a Cubs loss or a Twins win gives them the fourth pick.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    But the White Sox pick before them, and Houston perennially picks first. All those first picks haven't helped the Astros yet.

    But just think, the two World Series teams of 2005 are now the two at the bottom of the AL.

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    In reply to jack:

    They will help the Astros. They are building a monster of a farm team -- Carlos Correa (2012) is a consensus top 10 in all of baseball guy, Mark Appel (2013) could probably pitch in the majors next year, McCullers (Round 2, 2012) looks like, at the very least, a valuable bullpen piece. And if they take Rodon, they have the best pitching prospect to come out of the draft in quite some time. (I still think they may save money with Turner, who would also be a nice pickup.)

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    To hell with the mooching rooftop owners and the looting politicians. The Cubs should move out and leave them all high and dry so that they'll never be able to be held hostage again.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Amen!

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    In reply to Bucky:

    If you build it, they will come.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Exactly! Cub fans will follow even if the team moves.

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    So John, does Tom Loaxs' article change your opinion on Dale's fate? i still give it 50/50. But seems more smoke is coming out every day hinting at a change.

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    In reply to Sean Holland:

    I'm not John, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    The following comments are not a shot at any particular sports writer or writers, but it tends to be a pack mentality, even amongst the ones working for different entities. That's one thing that separates John from the rest. He tends to be a lone wolf, for which he has rightfully earned much respect.

    I suspect a lot of people are putting a lot of things together based on circumstantial evidence, and I'm not going to be shocked when those people end up with egg on their faces, but to be honest, those people won't care if it sells a few more papers or gets a few more hits.

    Anytime one reads anything using an anonymous source, one should be suspicious, especially about stuff like this and more especially during this time of the baseball season. This is the beginning of the quiet time of the year for teams that know they're not going to the playoffs. There isn't necessarily a lot of things to write about. So reporters will often find things to write about. Some will even outright make stuff up.

    I think Theo's words were taken way out of context, and then someone decided to link it with Joe Girardi's impending free agency. The story took off from when a lot people who would like to see Girardi as manager jumped on board. If nothing else, this has given a whole bunch of people something to write about because it has an excitement and interest to and of its own.

    Here is what you can bank on. Theo and company are doing exactly what they said they were doing, evaluating. Now if that evaluation process leads them to conclude that Sveum's deficiencies as a manager are detrimental to the rebuild, and that would only be because core players either are regressing or not getting better, then he is a goner, unless they see more of an issues with his coaches than with him. In that case, they may leave him as manager for another year and simply shuffle his staff around.

    What they are not going to do is fire Sveum simply so they can hire Girardi, and even if they do fire Sveum, they would only hire Girardi as long as he were okay with what they were doing and the way they wanted it done.

    Frankly, I think to many people are placing to much value in Girardi that he doesn't deserve. To me, Girardi might be a guy you'd bring in when the team was ready to win, but there is nothing in Girardi's past to suggest that he is any sort of guru at developing young players. In fact, there are things in his past to suggest that he is not.

    Girardi's year with the Marlins was a turbulent one. His run-ins with owner Jeffery Loria were one thing, but his run-ins with Larry Beinfest over player development were another, and that's what ultimately cost him his job in Florida.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I think the question with Sveum is what has he done to distinguish himself these last two years? Ricketts found Theo, Ricketts and Theo found Jed. Ricketts, Theo, and Jed found etc. I think the finale pieces are yet to be determined and we will find out Monday if Sveum plays a role.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I think all we have is speculation at this point, but you have a lot of people acting as if they know, when they really don't. If I walked up to a poker table and saw Theo Epstein sitting there, I'd walk away.

    This isn't Jim Hendry's front office. There aren't many leaks, and those who do leak aren't around for long. No one knows what Epstein is going to do, except for a very few, and they wouldn't know if he thought they were going to talk about it, and if this front office does leak something, they did it with a purpose, not just to be buddies with the media.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I guess that I was guilty of acting as if I knew something when it was just my gut, bu It was fun.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    I'll be the first to say speculation is fun, and I love to do it with trades and free agents, but this thing with Girardi has taken on a whole new level. It's a sychophantic frenzy in a way only Cubs fans can get, and people need to take a step back, because they're setting themselves up for a huge disappointment, any way it goes.

    No one, not even Joe "The Greatest Manager Ever" Girardi, could've won with these rosters. On the other hand, look at the talent the Yankees have had. It would be hard for the worst manager not to have some level of success with them. The truth is that a manager rarely has an affect on a game, and what affect he does have is mostly negative.

    People are getting to caught up in the sentimental bull crap of "Joes' an ex-Cub, he's from Peoria, a life-long Cubs fan, he went to NWU and he has family in Chicago" to actually think about whether or not Girardi is a good fit for where ownership and the FO wants this team to go, but then that's your typical Cubs fan. Winning doesn't really matter to them as long as they can get hammered at Wrigley or on the rooftops. It's all about the party, but it sucks for those of us who understand the game and really do care about winning.

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    In reply to 44slug:

    BTW, I don't just want to win, especially against the Cardinals. I grew up in Cardinals country, which is a rough thing for a Cubs fan. To paraphrase, General George S. Patton, Jr., I want the Cubs to cut the living guts out of the Cardinals and use them to grease their cleats.

  • It would be a sad day to see the Cubs move out of Wrigley, but as much as I despise the Chicago political machine (do you hear me, Rahm?), I would get some real satisfaction out of seeing Emmanuel get this stuffed into his craw. But hush my mouth - a pissed off Emmanuel would likely cause some sort of punishment meted out from his buddy. Just like the FO is in charge of the team's talent and progress regardless of fans and writers, the ownership needs to be in charge of the team's fate - not Chicago.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    As corrupt and unprofessional as the process is in dealing with the City of Chicago public officials, that is not the deal killer today. The Cubs did not get what they wanted by a long shot from the city, but they did get the right to renovate the stadium in a manner that would create more revenue opportunity.
    The problem is with the rooftop association. Outside interests hold a proprietary right in the Cubs product. It is a business model disaster. My son told me that some MBA programs use the example of the Tribune selling the rights to the rooftops, as exactly how not to manage your brand in case studies.
    There is no solution, other than wait ten years until the deal expires. Which of course would be death to this franchise competing for a decade.
    They must move. What is sad is that the Ricketts(at least Tom), can not see the pot of gold that is out there. The revenue possibilities that exist with a state of the art stadium, control of all concessions and parking, luxury boxes, signage, are mind boggling. This team could have a 200 million dollar payroll and not blink.
    This franchise has a cancer, and the owner refuses to take action to remove the tumor.

  • They don't HAVE to move. But they do have to threaten and be serious to move to get what they need. And that is a signed contract by the roof top owners not to sue. I think this will help the Cubs, city of Chicago, Wrigleyville and even the roof top owners(RTO). Their business is selling to people who want to drink and party close to where the Cubs are playing. They don't need to see everything in the park. They don't now and that is even before they get plastered. But if the RTOs don't sign, I think the Cubs will do just fine and maybe even better in a state of the art stadium in DuPage.

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    John, I see Larry Beinfest is a free agent now. Remember what we talked about this past summer? It still wouldn't shock me if he landed in the Cubs front office as a special assistant to the GM.

  • I like the way Girardi handled the ARod thing. He supported MLB with the suspension yet it toke 3 players and two umpires to keep him from wrestling the home plate ump to the ground after Dempster repeatedly threw at his appealing the suspension third baseman.

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