Ricketts addresses the Cubs resource question

Ricketts addresses the Cubs resource question

Yesterday I pondered how financially limited the Cubs would be this offseason.

We all know some have been painting a pretty dreadful picture when it comes to the Cubs baseball resources. This past week that story line had a little help from team President Theo Epstein. Epstein made an appearance on WSCR Sunday and let you know the baseball ops were counting on the business side to give them more to work with.

“We simply don’t have the payroll flexibility that we would need for a quicker talent infusion given some of the limitations and timing of our business plan and the realities of a lot of circumstances surrounding the ball club right now. But in an ideal world we would be doing both. We would be infusing a lot more, sort of ready talent in this situation, to speed up the clock a little bit with Major League players. We don’t have that luxury right now.

It depends on our ability to come through with our over the air TV package, TV rights deal which is up soon. It depends on our ability to come through and for the right market develop the cable package, which is five years from now, six years from now. It depends on, most importantly, on our ability to get the Wrigley renovation, restoration done quickly and done well and done in a manner that generates revenue.” Said Epstein.

I checked in yesterday with someone with knowledge of the clubs financial state. I was told things aren’t as bad as some of the media portrayals. However, there are real constraints for now.

Could the Cubs make a play for Masahiro Tanaka? Sure, but with the good old Yankees and even the new Yankees (Dodgers) lurking who knows what their chances really are? The good news is the Cubs don’t really see the point in throwing big money at either a Choo or an Ellsburry. Now the international guys in their 20’s are a different story.

Keep in mind the Cubs have heavily been in on the Darvish, Ryu, Cespedes, and even Puig sweepstakes. Has money kept the front office from landing some? Yes, yet they did land the coveted Jorge Soler. I was also reminded the big market Yankees and Red Sox have come up empty all together in those cases.

Gordon Wittenmyer who has been the most vocal in pointing out the money woes, was able to speak directly to Tom Ricketts about the state of the Cubs moving forward. Ricketts acknowledged the team’s lingering purchase debt (Forbes estimated major-league high $580 million) is a factor in spending ability.

However, like I was told yesterday, Wittenmyer was also told it’s “a lot less than you think”. Ricketts said baseball budgets set by ownership aren't necessarily handcuffing Esptein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

“I know it’s not a money issue,’’ Ricketts said of the methods the baseball department is using to restock the farm system and overhaul the organization — and the consequent results at the big-league level. “You can’t just throw money at the problem. We have to build the organization from the ground up. And that’s what we’re doing right now.

“On the business side, we have to continue to develop more revenue lines so that we can have more financial flexibility in the future, and we’re doing that with stadium renovations and other media contracts that are coming up in the future.”

Ricketts is simply counting on the outfield signage and the Jumbotron to help in the short term. The attendance yesterday was a story line, as the Cubs had their lowest draw since Sep of 2002. Is it something that can cause even more of a money issue?

“In terms of attendance, the way I look at it is we have to win,” Ricketts said. “We have to get a more exciting team.”

There seems to be somewhat of a vicious cycle going on here. The team needs to get more exciting to draw and help the bottom line, yet those players could be years away. What are Theo and Hoyer to do?

“Ultimately it will depend on our ability to put a better product on the field at the Major League level so that we can stop the trend in attendance and reverse it and get our attendance back up where it should be and generate revenue that way.” Epstein told WSCR.

Sounds like they got their work cut out for them. Maybe more than they originally thought. Ricketts for one doesn’t waver in his belief or patience.

“The fact is, we’re doing it the right way. We have the best leaders in our baseball organization, the smartest guys. It’s one step at a time. And we’re getting better.” Said Ricketts.

One step at a time is all they can afford.

@TomLoxas

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  • One thing everyone seems to agree on is that they need to put a better product on the field at the MLB level. Hopefully sooner than later.

  • It's a business first. We were led to believe that Ricketts had deep pockets. Turns out, not so much. He made a lousy deal and now the broadcasters, fans and advertisers are expected to make up the shortfall. I no longer have any faith in this regime.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    "I no longer have any faith in this regime."
    I'm not an ace financial analyst like you, but I do.

    "Oh, for the halcyon days of P.K. Wrigley...."

  • There was been a report that the Cubs are in fact interested in Choo.

    " The Cubs are expected to "make a run" at signing Choo in the offseason, industry sources tell CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney."

    http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/cubs-search-answers-shin-soo-choo-could-be-game-changer

    These aren't the same Yankees of a decade ago, they run the team more like a business now that George is dead. You hear a lot of talk about them trying to get under the luxury tax, something that was not even considered an option when George was alive. A lot of their resources will go into resigning Cano.

    I don't even think the Dodgers make big a run at Tanaka. Spending $300+ million this off-season on just two pitchers, Kershaw/Tanaka seems ludicrous even considering the Dodgers recent spending habits.

    Not to say either don't make a run at him but I don't see it as likely as some.

  • In reply to GoCubsGo:

    Just to add to that the Dodgers are really deep in starting pitching. Kershaw, Greinke and Ryu are locks for the rotation next year.

    Fife has been pitching really good. Zach Lee is on the horizon soon.

    Beckett and Billingsley (12 million plus his 3 million buyout that I see them using) are owed $15 million each next season. I find it hard to see them not using either of them at some starting capacity role.

  • Nice Job, Tom. I believe Ricketts has made a substantial profit the last few years, this year included, based solely season ticket sales. Here's the math. Conservatively, the Cubs have at least 30,000 season tickets sold at a (conservative again) average price of $80 a ticket, times 81 game: 30,000 x 80 x 81= $194,400,000. And that doesn't even include concessions, TV, and all the other revenue streams. What's their payroll now? So I strongly suspect Ricketts is generating a net profit in the tens or millions.

    And, that's alright. I surrender. I have lost my frustration. I am tranquil and patient. I am on board with the rebuild. I am super excited about Bryant, Baez, Almora, P. Johnson, CJ Edwards. I am really enjoying this site and using it to follow the daily progress of our future stars.

    Finally, interesting that yesterday was lowest attendance since Sept. 2002 because I seem to recall that 2003 was a pretty good year. So if the pattern holds we should at least get to 5 outs away for a World Series next year-- but only if we bring up Bryant, Baez, Almora, P. Johnson, CJ Edwards ASAP!! ; --

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Agree with your points, but the average ticket price isn't $80. My seasons are in the Field Box - OF, (100-level) which are the 5th most expensive, and my average ticket price is about $50. There are many more 200-level and 400-level season ticket holders, whose average price is about $30/ticket. There are so many fewer seats in the more expensive Club Box sections. So the estimate is probably closer to $100-$125mm. Of course that doesn't account for TV, concessions, and licensing profits. But I think things are tighter than we think, considering the minor league devlopment costs and the upcoming construction costs.

    The bad news is that they're going to have a serious problem retaining that STH revenue next year. I've spoken to a lot of STH's who are bailing out. In addition, the STH wait-list is rapidly shrinking. I know several people who used to be 20,000 deep on that list, and have been contacted about ST's - and btw, declined to accept....

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    In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    You are so right...but what none of these guys have mentioned who want to downgrade your point is every major league owner got $125 mil each from the Fox Saturday and Playoff Deal last offseason and this offseason they are each gonna get 50 Mil from their TBS Sunday Deal.........Ricketts is a Greedy and he needs to get Major League All Star Talent........He needs to sign Cano and get both Japanese Pitchers and Choo and he needs to over spend to get those players to even want to play for the cubs because of how bad epstien and hoyer have been and he needs to go get a Major League 3b, If he did all that the cubs would be in the Playoffs next year and that would give the cubs a chance to let those youth grow up and pack Wrigley.......That would help the cubs in the long run........He knows this but him and his dad want to pocket as much money as they can because they are both greedy liars

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    Your math doesn't subtract that massive amount of entertainment tax the Cubs pay, but your point about a substantial amount of revenue is valid.

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    In reply to Nondorf:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/15762/cubs-white-sox-lower-ticket-prices

    "...the Cubs cut prices by 3.8 percent, dropping to $44.55, from $46.31."

  • Bloomie... No need to be so negative.

    We are doing things the right way... We have 3 teams in the milb play offs and they are stocked with good young prospects. The only team stocked with veterans / journeymen was at AAA... And even they weren't too far away. The low A team is a young team and will provide some talent to high A next year... I'm still in on this rebuild.

    What would you rather have... Boom and bust with no end goal like 2007-2011 or the possibility of sustained playoff appearances that we are trying to build towards?

    The only issue I have with Theo & Co is the money wasted on Edwin Jackson...

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I think most people are against the boom/bust model, however, everyone does have different thresholds of patience.

    2014 is going to be a really important year in so many regards.

    1) Free Agency - If the Cubs don't infused the major league club with some additional talent, the year end record could be very similar to 2013.

    2) Stadium renovation - The ability to add outside talent to fill in holes in 2015-2016 will be largely impacted by getting the new revenue streams up and running. As much as people dream about a full home grown team, talent from the outside is a must.

    3) Most importantly, the continued development of top prospects in 2014 is critical. The Cubs have put so much of their proverbial resource pool (money, time, energy, selling hope to fans) into drafting and acquiring minor league talent. If Baez, Alcantra, Soler and/or Bryant don't have good/great years next year, suddenly 2015 might look rougher than we anticipate right now. Especially if Baez struggles next year.

    In summary, I think the patience of many people is starting to wear thin, with next year being a really important year as detail above. Especially now that fans have a much better idea that the rebuild has really been much more of a dual-purpose (infusing minor league talent as well as saving money to fund debt) endeavor than originally postured by ownership.

  • In reply to Monkey Shines:

    Yeah, when Theo said 'parallel fronts,' we didn't know that one of the fronts was going to be debt payments.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Yep. I'm guessing that Theo didn't know, either.

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    In reply to Boogens:

    Disagree. The issue was they didn't see the disaster that the renovation talks have been. That's really the monkey wrench in the process.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Yes and no. Savvy business owners should always have contingency plans, especially when the desired plan hinges on a number of very important items largely out of your control.

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    In reply to Monkey Shines:

    Oh, there was a contingency plan. The revenue sharing and such leads to a significant profit even when your team is terrible, if you just control spending. The Marlins and the Astros have taken this to a repulsive extreme.

    Business success here is very different from success on the field.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That was a contingency plan in terms of controlling expenses, not in terms of revenue streams, and that's where the team and us as fans are stuck right now.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Your point being? They bought the team with an eye to making money. Plan A hasn't worked yet, so they went to Plan B. Controlling expenses is just as valid as increasing revenue to maximize profit.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I'm in agreement with the rebuild but nothing is guaranteed. At least with the Boom and Bust - there is a boom (=winning seasons, playoff appearances, etc.) Granted, the busts suck - but what have the last 5 years been?

    People will say 'But we didn't even will one playoff game during the boom..' I get that, but that is also an anomaly.

    Like I said, I'm OK with the rebuild, to a certain extent. This team simply can't trot out an $80M payroll, unless the prospects pan out and are cheap / productive players. There are all kinds of 'small-market teams' that have recent, current or projected payrolls well above the Cubs.

    The Cubs' ability to navigate the 'bridge' to the current prospects will be interesting to watch.

  • I really can not blame Ricketts for this. He truly does have deep pockets. I think it all goes back to Sam Zell (sp?) and how he would only sell to someone who would take on a percentage of debt in order to buy. He received a substantial tax benefit by doing this. Believe me, the Ricketts family could have paid cash for the franchise if they wanted to, but it would not have been sold to them that way. So really, I think we would be dealing with this with whomever bought the team.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    A tax sham would be a better description of that foul little devil. And by the way, the IRS ruled it to be illegal, costing the Tribune Company millions, long after Zell had bankrupted the thing.

    As to 'would be dealing with this with whomever bought the team'... don't forget that several would be buyers turned a cold shoulder when they found out the extent of Zell's shenanigans!!

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    Yes Canning group said no ay to that BS.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I'm actually kind of surprised that the ruling by the IRS hasn't forced the Trib to give up their 5% of the team and ended the issue entirely.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    What would be more interesting is if the tax benefit has been voided could the Ricketts simply pay off the debt early and be done with it?

  • "We simply don’t have the payroll flexibility that we would need for a quicker talent infusion..."
    Wow, there is more than meets the eye. Another great article, Tom, which certainly helps clear up a lot of the ambiguity.

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    Baez and Bryant look on the verge of the majors. That alone should turn attendance around.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'd like to believe that, but those guys aren't Haper, Strasburg, Trout. If you asked the casual fan about either of those guys, they might admit to knowing who they are - but they aren't attendance drivers. Not unless they come up, dominate, and can get the team above .500.

    Now if they completely blow up (you could argue Baez has started too), then that could change. And by blow up, I mean that ESPN would want to buy the rights to their first game - like I"m sure they did with Harper / Strasburg. Being prominently on the cover of the Tribune Sports section isn't going to make the casual fan spend $65 for a so-so seat on the Tuesday day game in April or August. Not unless the team is doing really well.

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    In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Two points:

    First of all, if you've been watching the broadcasts, they've consistently been trumpeting Baez, and the pregame show has shown clips of him along with interviews of his coaches and teammates. All of this is being done to build him up among the fanbase so that his eventual call-up feels special. It really doesn't matter what the baseball world in general feels about it, it matters what Cubs fans feel about him.

    Second, no one knew who Sammy Sosa was when he hit the majors, but when he started hitting home runs at a breakneck pace, all of a sudden he was a draw. Baez is a really special offensive talent. If he comes close to his ceiling -- and his floor is flying upwards by the day -- he'll quickly become a must see event just to take part in the "I saw Javy hit a ball across the street" conversations.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    On the first point - I do watch the broadcasts and agree that they showcase him with some regularity. But I still don't think Baez or even Bryant will lead to and 'attendance turnaround'. Sure, winning will lead to higher attendance -but if both those guys are up in 2015 and the team is still a dog - its not likely to cause much of an increase in attendance. Not at these prices. I don't think seeing Baez hit a bomb onto Waveland is worth $90 bleacher seats, if the Cubs still lose 7-2. BUT more importantly, doesn't this level of attention set Baez up for failure? What if they continue to do this and he comes up and falls flat on his face? The casual fan thats been led to believe that he is the next face of the franchise will be even more pissed off. We aren't the Marlins. There are very real expectations for these kids. Especially with these ticket prices.

    As for Sammy, yeah he was a draw. But he was also hitting 50 and 60 HRs a season. And he transcended the Cubs - since MLB needed a savior(s) following the strike. He and McGuire were the saviors. Nobody expects Baez to challenge Marris' record. If he comes up and hits .280 / .340 / .500 with 25 bombs (which would nearly guarantee him ROY) will that lead to a massive jump in attendance?

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Baez will absolutely be an attendance draw. He is incredible fun to watch. People will not get up to go to bathroom or get drinks in the innings he is due to hit. Even his strikeouts are exciting. He's also a guy people will show up early to watch BP for.

    I haven't seen enough of Bryant to say if he will be similar, but Baez has the star quality that will draw people to the ballpark.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, you add these guys to a rejuvenated Castro and Rizzo, throw in a Olt turn-around, and you could have a very interesting offense.

    They would lead the league in homers and strikeouts.

    What's your guess, they are the 2 - 6 hitters in Sept 2014?

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    In reply to djriz:

    There's a lot of speculation here, but if I were to guess 2014, I'd go:

    1) Castro SS
    2) Alcantara 2B
    3) Rizzo 1B
    4) Schierholtz LF
    5) Baez 3B
    6) Bryant RF

    That's temporary. Assuming development as expected, I'd guess a lineup in 2015 and beyond that looks something like this:

    1) Castro SS
    2) Alcantara 2B
    3) Baez 3B
    4) Rizzo 1B
    5) Bryant RF
    6) Schierholtz LF

    Obviously, Soler could alter that a bit.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    If I were a betting man, I'd say the Cubs will be in the same position with Alcantara and Bryant in Sept. 2014 as they are with Baez now. They'll probably be ready to be brought up, but they won't because of 40 man and service clock considerations. June of 2015 is when our we will see the core of our next playoff team.

    1). Alcantara/Castro 2B
    2). Soler LF
    3). Baez SS
    4). Rizzo 1B
    5). Bryant RF
    6). Olt 3B
    7). Castillo C
    8). Lake CF

    We could use a lefty CF since we are so right handed.

  • In reply to djriz:

    I'm curious, why would you think Bryant would play RF over Soler? I just can't see the big framed Bryant being more athletic than Soler. How often do you see a 3rd baseman move to RF? Left field seems to fit Bryant in my opinion...

  • ricketts is basically saying, why should I pay for my own investment when you suckers can? everyone has always wondered why crane kenney stuck around when he seemed so much different than the ricketts family, now we know, because they aren't very different at all.

  • In reply to cantstandja:

    This is true (STH'er pays face value, but market value is less than half of that - so STH'ers are bearing the risk), but this model can only last a year or two, before the STH'ers bail out in droves. The cat is out of the bag - this team won't be contending for at least 3-4 more years. So the incentive to keep those season tickets is dwindling fast.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    " this team won't be contending for at least 3-4 more years."
    That's what they said about the Pirates last year.
    Nice to have a crystal ball -- if it works.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    John, a poll of your educated readers on when they expect the Cubs to contend for the NL Central title?

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I can incorporate that in a piece about 2014, which I think might be an interesting topic. Seems like many looking at 2015 already (and understandably so with the possibility of prospects opening the season with the team), but 2014 may be a lot more interesting than we might think at first glance.

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Hey, if it's just for educated readers, that leaves me out !

  • I agree that I'd much rather they spend $40 mil on a 24 year old pitcher than a 30 year old corner outfielder.

  • In reply to Ike03:

    It's going to take a lot more than 40 mil for the 24 yr old pitcher. Maybe more than double 40 mil.

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    Darvish cost 60 mil at age 25

  • In reply to Ike03:

    Plus a 50 million dollar posting fee.

  • A few things:

    1) If you lower ticket prices, you'll likely get more attendance. So its a bit disingenuous to say you want more bodies in the seats, but have top-5 ticket prices and a bottom-5 team.

    2) Has anyone seriously talked about naming rights? Seems to be a no-brainer to me. Costs zero. Doubtful the city / rooftop owners can stop it (Landmarks status?) Can happen immediately. And could generate millions per year. Wrigley Field at Pepsico Stadium? Boeing Stadium? Mets got 20/$20M per year from Citi. I'd think the Cubs could get at least $10M if not come close to what the Mets got. Wrigley is more popular and much more of a draw than Flushing, NY.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    Love that idea, no reason to not sell naming rights.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    If they're going to plaster Wrigley with 50,000 square feet of new advertising, I have no idea why they'd draw the line at altering the name of the ballpark. But it seems that is the line in the sand. For now.

  • Bloomie, did you not read the article? It seems you are never happy with anything, ever. We have ownership and organizational leadership that is going about this the right way - build a perennial contender with a constant influx of new talent, and future revenue GROWTH to spend when we need to. I would rather put up with 2-3 years of poor ML product and a low payroll, and have the team invest those funds in IFA, the draft, scouting, etc. You have to build a solid foundation!

    Our farm system, scouting, and player development have improved dramatically. Compare the players in our Top 20 today with our "prospects" of the past decade (Choi, Cedeno, Patterson, Pie, Hill, Dopirak, Gallagher, etc). The new guys have impact talent and solid fundamentals, and are showing progression.

    Our young MLB players (Rizzo, Lake, Castro, Castillo, Wood, Shark) are improving. While the W-L record may not reflect it, you can see glimmers of a core group of young players who play good, fundamental baseball (throwing strikes, good ABs, good baserunning, good fielding) and are learning how to win.

    As Theo said before, "all progress is not linear"

  • In reply to BBullerman:

    We can't really get mad at Bloomie or anyone. Hell even Theo sounds a bit frustrated but I trust their eye for talent. This will take longer but could be more fruitful by being bad in meantime.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    No one is getting mad at Bloomie and the other naysayers. It's just that they lack flexibility, vision, and patience.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Cub fans are patient by definition. But there are limits to how long many will accept watching a bottom five team in a top five city.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    OK, patience we've got covered.
    There's still flexibility and vision. Guess that's why teams hire a Front Office to provide such things.
    If it were up to the majority of fans, the DFA truck would be backed up after every error, mistake, loss, and as-yet-unfulfilled expectation.

  • It all comes down to 'who do you trust'?

    Theo....we have no money....
    Rickett's...the money's there, just not the right time.

    (I'm taking the owners side).

  • In reply to djriz:

    They will lose 195 games in two freaking years. It's time.

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    Empty seats are actually a good thing if you think about it. Ownership and the front office should not be able to take the fans loyalty for granted.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agreed here.

  • I don't see the point to paying big bucks to FAs at this time even if the Cubs had it. Rich teams and poor teams are smart to be cautious. The FO must be sure of the team's needs. The organization will know more after another year of observation. George, if he was still alive, couldn't fill all the holes with FA.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Theo obviously disagrees with you. Free agency is not the only method to get proven players if not limited financially. See Hanley Ramirez.

  • Still need a year to know who to trade.

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    There's a lot of anger directed at the Ricketts across Cubs fans for the budgets.

    At least some of this seems to be because the huge budgets of the late Tribune years were slashed under the new ownership.

    But one thing to consider here: the old owners, the Trib, are going through massive upheavals because they were very poorly managed. It seems unfair to assume that the Trib as a whole was poorly managed, but the Cubs budget was reasonable.

    It seems very likely that when the new management teams took over, things were much worse than anyone expected. We know Theo found the minors in much worse shape than he anticipated, but I'm betting that first year that Ricketts spent focused on the business side was because it was a absolute clusterfuck.

    There are decades of mismanagement that Tom/Theo are trying to overcome here. It's frustrating to see on the field -- no question about that -- but this is pretty much the hangover from a party that went on far too long. (And it wasn't all that great a party, at that.)

    It's easy to get caught in the moment here, but the project the Ricketts undertook was enormous. Ricketts has been at it for less than four years. Some perspective would help here.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I could not agree with you more. I think both sides were in terrible shape when Ricketts took over, and it has limited the ability of the business side to help the baseball side.

  • I've been told the Cubs aren't spending this off-season, and to look for an off-season like the last one. For what that's worth.

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    In reply to Julie DiCaro:

    I actually had a question on that. You said the Cubs aren't spending this offseason, but that the payroll should be similar to where it was this year, but with Garza, Baker, DeJesus, Soriano (partly) and Feldman off the books, seems that opens up at least some cash to make a decent signing.

  • In reply to Julie DiCaro:

    If we can find another Nate type and have a decent pen things could still improve even slightly.

  • In reply to Julie DiCaro:

    So I guess I'll start researching the top players in the 2015 draft.

  • Does everyone else think this is setup? They made people think they had more money then they did now they are basically saying they have no money? So why would they change tactics? Questions that bring up more questions

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Yeah, no one expected the Sanchez effort. Hope they just spend it wisely.

  • Hey John hasn't posted on this yet. Quick someone mention trading Castro. ;)

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    No thanks.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    He almost killed us yesterday.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    If you think the post was about Castro specifically than my point was lost.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I will do it!!!

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    That's pretty funny.

  • Think of the money they would save and the pieces they can get if they traded Castro. I am sure the Pirates would love to get an every day SS and they have the pieces to get him.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    ROTFL!!!

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Screw that. Castro to the Cardinals for some of their rookie league guys.

  • On a serious note, Castro has looked better than ever.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    He's no Baez!

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    He's no "Scrappy Mick Kelleher".

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    I think the setup is that the owner and president are saying two different things. They are skillfully using the media to their advantage to help shape public perception so they can get the best deals possible for the long-term future of the Cubs franchise/Rickett's investment. Can we think of anywhere else where President's and Owners publicly disagree on things where the situation is not eventually solved by finding a new President? The Ricketts are not billionaires because they are stupid and don't know how to run a business or manage public perception (though their father dropped the ball). This is all part of the game to get the things they want and need.

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    In reply to Denvil Farley:

    Did the father really drop the ball, or is it just that he isn't politically correct enough for some? I mean, how dare anyone have an opinion that doesn't fit the prescribed dictates of our nation's elites. For further reference, Google the "WIlkow Guide to Media Perception." Out of respect for the owners of this blog, I will say no more.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Baseball please, Michael.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Yes, no politics. Baseball is my refuge and nothing breaks down a comment section more than political rhetoric.

  • In reply to Denvil Farley:

    For sure I've thought Theo was doing Ricketts bidding. He's the face that some wont begrudge for crying poor. They want Theo to say we need this/that and people to say hey give him, look what he did in Bos.

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    On a different note, I am a season ticket holder, and my problem isn't actually the seat prices, it's the food/beer prices.

    I always make sure to eat BEFORE the game, and have a few drinks as well, to cut down on the tab in the ballpark.

    I honestly think the club would make more money if they trimmed those prices a bit, and/or raised the food quality. Because right now, I think alot of those dollars are going elsewhere. That's my 2 cents, which doesn't buy you much at $7.75 a beer....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Can't disagree there. But those Bison dogs are worth it. Anyone try the Bison Brat? Good stuff.

  • Prices should be better regardless of the success of the team. It costs too much!

  • My take on Tom Ricketts is that he is smart, a good businessman, and a die-hard Cubs fan. He certainly know all too well that when the Cubs win, it will be in essence a license to print money. I will not believe for a nanosecond that he is not putting every possible penny into the baseball operations. Note I wrote "baseball operations" not "major league club".

    I think there were two things that have affected the original plan. One was he made a judgement error on the politics of the renovation. The other was the effects the new CBA has on the draft. Mr. Moody's comment on Trib mismanagement is also quite plausible.

    Regardless, I firmly believe that Ricketts knows that it is in his best business and personal interest to see the Cubs contend repeatedly and so as to win as soon as possible. To presume anything else is disingenuous.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I don't know that anyone on here can argue with what you just wrote CubsFanInNorway, only qualify it. I think the big issue is how much in the way of monetary resources are the Rickett's going to dedicate to attempting to accelerate the progress of the Big League club for 2014 and 2015. Their feelings about the timeline are in question, not their love of the Cubs or knowing what an asset they will (eventually) have if they field a constant contender.

    I agree that the smart play probably is for us to stink it up for another couple of years, continue to take advantage of market inefficiencies on players around the margins and stockpile young talent before exploding onto the scene in 2016 or 2017. I just don't know that the average Cubs fan has that much patience left to tolerate another 2-3 years of sub .500 baseball, and fan no-shows like yesterday are only going to become more common if this continues unabated.

  • In reply to Ryno2Grace:

    I dont see how cub fans cant or wont have patience. their cub fans!!

  • Speaking of season tickets. Anyone want some cheap field box for Sun? 2 in Sec 109

  • Its in the cubs best business interests to do something with the current team for 2014 to get the fans back. IMO that means Castro may well be on the trading block. The only free agent they may go after is Tanaka. Baez could be brought up to take Castro's place. Alcantara will be on 2nd (They have to do something with the slumping Barney.), Olt on third and Bryant in RF Lake could well be in CF. Then in 2015 they'll gave to make a decision on Vogelbahn. Will he be traded or will they stick with Rizzo? It will depend on continued improvement on V and what Rizzo does in 2014

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    The only one that I agree with accelearating his promotion is Baez.

    I think he will be knocking on the door in early 14, and from what I have read about his demeanor, he is a bad ass who wants to win and will not take no for an answer.

    In short, he has what he Cubs at the ML level are sorely lacking -- talent and swagger.

  • In reply to JK1969:

    Totally agree the Cubs could use that kind of swagger on the team. Don't get me wrong, Baez is a nice guy -- but not if your the team in the other dugout.

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    In reply to JK1969:

    Agree that they need the swagger, but disagree about early promotion.

    Baez keeps improving, and it's great, but he still has some holes and his development IMO should still be priority #1.

    Triple-A is the most important developmental level and all you need to do is look at Castro this year to see how tough it is to develop or struggle on the national level.

    I don't think Baez or Bryant should be brought up before Aug/September no matter what.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I agree with that. Development is first. The only reason to bring up Baez at this point is if you are sure he's MLB ready, and I agree that he's still not quite there.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, do you think Baez or Bryant can force his way up? Do you believe they'll get an early call up if they really mash?

    I personally think 500 ABs @ triple-A should be written in stone.

    I think Bryant needs 500 too this year but not all in triple-A. Bryant is old enough and appears to be advanced enough that 500 ABs across AA and AAA would be fine.

    But I think they both need all if the time to experience slumps or some bit of adversity.
    Struggling in Iowa is light years different that struggling in Chicago.

    I think about Shelby Miller in '12. Most thought he was ready but he stayed in AAA the whole year. I realize a case could be made that it's different because the Cards were GOOD. But I could argue that a bad team cannot afford to sacrifice the development of a possible future star.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    500 ABs in AAA is ideal, but I think it's possible because you make exceptions for elite talents. Not everyone has the same timetable when it comes to development whether it's baseball or anything else. One thing I do believe is that the Cubs won't call them up to fill the stands. They'll call them up strictly when they think they're ready from a baseball standpoint -- that said, I wouldn't rule out that happening before they finish a year in AAA.

  • Power hitters fill seats. If either Baez or Bryant are hitting home runs at a rate of 35 per year, thousands of additional seats will be filled regardless of the success of the team. If they both do it, the park will be filled again.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Similarly, winning fills the seats no matter who is in your lineup. An front office's sole responsibility is to build a winning team, not fill the stands. The latter is the responsibility of ownership, marketing, etc. The only way the FO can do that is to put a winning team on the field -- and they need to do it using the rebuilding process they feel works best.

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    I think a lot of the concern and panic is what overblown.

    I'm glad to hear Ricketts preaching sticking to the plan. I think so far the FO and ownership has done about as well as could possibly be done, all things considered.

    I don't mind missing out on guys like Darvish, Puig, etc. High profile IFA's are no different that MLB FA's.

    You make an offer based on the perceived value by your evaluations. We made honest runs at them and came up just short.

    The Cards won the WS with Pujols just before free agency. They made a big offer, he wanted more, but they stood firm. And they're still among the best in the league.

    Boston broke the bank on FAs and ended up regretting it. They purged bad contracts and are at the top of the league.

    So what if the Cubs are terrible for another year or two? (personally, i think that '14 will be the last ugly season, and not as bad as this year.) The fans WILL come back. The money will be there eventually.

    Rushing this by trying to sign EVERY free agent just turns you into the Angels or the Blue Jays.

    Then you suck AND can't afford the free agents that actually would help the team.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    The cardinals and Boston have done nothing like the long term plan the cubs have been forced to take.

  • They have built good organizations that can consistently produce talent. They don't need to rebuild. They just stock up again from their farm when the team starts to struggle or they have injuries. That's where you want the Cubs to be.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    100%

    I have literally dreamed about the Cubs, 6-10 years from now, being in the same position as Boston and St Louis.

    Dominating the MLB and yet still having top prospects in the minors.

    Tavares, Wong, Wacha. Xander, Barnes, Owens, Ranaudo, Cecchini.

    Some of the best prospects in the league, whom are coveted by struggling teams and to their clubs....meh.

    THATS where I want the Cubs.

    And you only get there by building the right way.

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    Not entirely fair. The Cardinals and Red Sox aren't trying to recover from 30-60 years of poor ownership. There is a lot more to dig out from to be on the same plane as those two teams.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Agreed. Good post.

  • “ 'In terms of attendance, the way I look at it is we have to win,' Ricketts said. 'We have to get a more exciting team.' "

    There's danger here, Cherie.

  • Good discussion. To me, bottom line, for the Chicago cubs to have a $90 million payroll, and to say we are maxed out, is absurd.
    What angers me, is the message has changed. They went from we will spend the money when the time is right, to we are putting all the money into the big league club there is. That should really worry a cub fan.
    Something weird is going on
    I have heard that the face to face talks with the rooftops recently was a total disaster. I have also been told that the owners will never spend one dime on renovations, unless they know they won't get sued, and have zero restrictions when the contract is up. There really is no resolution remotely in sight.
    Do not be shocked when the cubs start looking for alternatives soon. I think that might be what this is all about.

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    Looking at payroll numbers is misguided. Are they supposed to throw money at just anybody because they're a big market team.

    I myself was reminded on here recently that the Cubs really tried hard to give Sanchez a pretty big contract.

    The payroll will increase when a deserving FA becomes available.

  • I think the Ricketts family are great business people. They bought a very expensive baseball team and a parcel of valuable but decrepit real estate during an economic collapse in an extremely tight credit market. They methodically got up to speed on the baseball side of the operation before they cleaned house. On the business side, they looked at top line revenue and bottom line revenue, and made the necessary spending cuts to maintain their bottom line revenue.

    Using this bottom line revenue they expanded their staff, upgraded their staff's technology, opened an academy training facility in the DR, broke ground on an expanded spring training facility, and will soon be doing major renovations to the stadium and investing heavily in the neighborhood economy.

    So, minus what is being used to service the debt, the rest of the bottom line revenue is being invested in the future where it will reap top-line revenue growth that yields much more profitable bottom-line revenue growth. A better team playing in a refurbished stadium in a refurbished neighborhood, both in Chicago and Mesa, where they are both the top baseball draw, will eventually reap huge profits for the Ricketts family that they will continue to invest just as shrewdly. In addition, the refurbishments themselves will generate revenue and they have a TV contract coming up. All of these increase top-line revenue, and once again, more profitable bottom-line revenue. That means if a prospect or two doesn't pan out, the Cubs can spend like the Dodgers.

    Unfortunately, for impatient Cubs fans, as with all things in the future you must wait for them and there's no guarantee the Cubs will ever win the World Series. But, I think its quite safe to say that the Ricketts family made a great investment that will make them a lot of money.

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    I understand the rebuilding process and everyone knew it would be painful. Everyone knew when Theo took over the Cubs had bad contacts and a bloated payroll. Ok. However, now the Cubs have cleared much of that payroll. What is the payroll going to be at next year?
    From that standpoint, I don't have enough disposable income to justify driving 2 1/2 hours to Wrigley, pay top dollar for tickets, PLUS $20 to park and $30 to get two pops and two hot dogs, just to watch a lineup where Dionner Navarro bats 4 and 6-8 is Cody Ransom, Logan Watkins and Donnie Murphy (last game vs. Dodgers). I'm okay being patient if the Cubs ownership lowers prices to middle of the road ticket prices and concession prices while we know the Cubs are rebuilding. I get that. However, I won't do what I did this year again any time soon.

  • In reply to Darren Bizarri:

    Well everyone who WAS there today caught a grand slam by Junior. All the Hawks fans came back. The Cub fans will too.

  • In reply to Dan Bradley:

    Agreed. When the Cubs start winning, we won't be able to buy a ticket anymore.

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