Cubs Notes: Bounce back candidates, mascots, more on payroll, and other notes

Cubs Notes: Bounce back candidates, mascots, more on payroll, and other notes

Thanks to Mike Moody earlier today who filled in while I got some much needed errands done.  It's going to be a busy week for me, so much appreciated.

We'll start the day with some news and notes and we'll go from there...

Bounce Back Candidates

When you have as many players with disappointing seasons as the Cubs have, you do lead the league in one thing: Bounce-back candidates.  Dan Szymborski of ESPN lists his top 6 candidates to rebound this season (insider only)-- and 3 of them are Cubs.

It shouldn't be hard for you to guess who they are since we've talked about them here.  The players are Edwin Jackson, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo.

In case you are unfamiliar with Szymborski, he is also the man behind the ZiPS projections that we often use here.  He has some pretty good news for Cubs fans.

He sees Jackson as putting up an 11-11 season with a 3.99 ERA which would put him comfortably in the middle of the Cubs rotation.  Starlin Castro, meanwhile puts up a respectable .280/.319/.413 with 13 HRs (3 WAR) season. First baseman Anthony Rizzo projects to have a solid .255/.336/.464 season with 27 HRs (2.9 WAR).

If he's correct those performances should add a few extra wins for the Cubs next year.

New Mascot

Speaking of bounce-back, the Cubs introduced their first mascot of the modern era, Clark the Cub, and he was bounced around like a pinata on Twitter.  If you ask me,  I think it's much ado over nothing.  The mascot is for the kids and if anyone has been to Kane County, you'll know he's going to be a huge hit.  The kids greet "Ozzie", the Cougars mascot, the same way teenage girls used to greet The Beatles.

As for an adult, it doesn't interfere with my ability to watch the game so it makes no difference to me.  It doesn't affect the product on the field and it's not some wag the dog type move to distract fans from the fact the Cubs haven't made any major moves this year.

I suppose for some it personified the lack of activity on the field and became a convenient punching bag for those frustrations, but I'm not reading that much into it.

It's just a mascot to entertain younger fans.

More opinions on Passan's article

Myles from Obstructed View tries to find middle ground between frustration with the present and hope for the future.  I agree with some of what he's saying, but  for the most part, the argument is basically this: "We're paying good money...so entertain us!"

Maybe so.  But it's not the job of the front office to entertain people.  It's their job to build the best team and organization possible for the long term, but nobody every promised this would be a 2 or 3 year fix.  It takes time and when it's completed, the entertainment will follow.

As for ownership, they hired that front office and they came here with the assumption that they'd be allowed to do their job.  I don't think Epstein comes here if part of his job description was that he would have to compromise his rebuilding plan for the sake of entertainment in the form of  a few more wins.

Ricketts' has repeatedly said that when the front office needs the money, it will be there.  I don't have any reason to doubt him on that, especially since he has already backed it up, most notably putting in the highest bids for Anibal Sanchez and Jorge Soler, two players the front office really coveted.  There is no evidence that the payroll will stay where it is during the rebuilding period.

There's also this line: "They don't watch it to see "rebuilding" unless they are masochistic or under the teams' employ."

Well, I don't know who "they" are, but I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that I am neither of those things.  I like watching baseball because I love the game -- at all levels.  I enjoy following the process of building a team the right way.  I also want the Cubs to win, but I don't want them to do it with shortcuts and patchwork signings.  Been there, done that.  What I want is for them to build in such a way that can be sustained for the long term and if it takes an extra year, so be it.  It's not about a World Series or bust attitude, or as Myles puts it, " Other bloggers will tell you that the primary goal of the Cubs is to win a World Series; any perceived move that carries you further from that goal is a poor one."

No, it's about putting together a sound, repeatable process that leads to success over the long term.  You don't take needless detours for entertainment purposes.  Stay focused on the long term goal.

When that happens, the Cubs will have a chance to win every season, perhaps even a World Series.  But even if they don't, it will certainly be entertaining to watch them try year after year for a change.

Odds and Ends

  • Scott Baker has many offers but right now is looking for a guaranteed MLB deal.  Hard to blame him.  He can get a non-guaranteed, minor league deal at any point this offseason.  He may as well wait.
  • Former Cub Thomas Neal has signed with the Cincinnati Reds.

 

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  • A GM should never pay attention to what the fans and media have
    to say as far as how the team should be build or run

  • I'm against the mascot. It seems like pandering to me, especially with the direction attendance has been heading. Cub fans go to Wrigley Field to get away from mascots and enjoy baseball in a traditional setting.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    RE: "Cub fans go to Wrigley Field to get away from mascots..."

    Do you really go to Wrigley to get away from mascots?

    Strange. I personally don't see very many mascots in my everyday life.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    I have no problem with the Mascot. Its the Cubs way of trying to make Wrigley Field and the Cubs a more family friendly environment. We have had a 106 years of tradition....losing. I have young kids now and I won't take them to Wrigley Field because of the environment.

  • How many years is Clark under control?

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    In reply to edubbs:

    That is the comment of the week! Well done, sir.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    Haha!

  • In reply to edubbs:

    Comment of the day!

  • In reply to edubbs:

    In fairness he will probably be able to defend better at 3rd base than Josh Vitters...

  • Denial
    Anger
    Bargaining
    Depression
    Acceptance
    ; )

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    ??? Not sure what you are referring to here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry. Those are the five stages of death or dying. I thought of them after reading your comments above about Passan. I cite them here half jokingly because i feel I've kinda gone through that process over the last 8 months or so in coming to terms with and accepting the "rebuild" extend into this offseason. This site has been has been therapeutic for me.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Thanks. I knew you were talking a out the 5 stages of dying. I just missed the connection -- then again I was pretty sleepy last night. Long day.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    For some people those five stages will apply to dealing with Clark the Cub. LOL!

    Your comments on the mascot perfectly right on the mark. Thanks.

  • It seems like you've been a victim of fans who think that supporting the Cubs, having hope in the rebuilding process or even seeing positives in it is a sin and you get labeled as less smart than those who only complain about it...

    I completely agree... Some people think the FO owes them a winner now because they've endured soooo much... Some think they have to do it their way or it's all a failure, some claim they don't have patience... Today I was told I'm not that much of a fan because I don't put pressure on the team and I support them through this...

    I don't think the team is obligated to do as fans say it should be done... If that was the case, Ricketts would've hired them to do this job and not Theo...

  • In reply to Caps:

    Thanks. I don't know if he was referring specifically to me because there were other bloggers mentioned, and none of what he said accurately described what I wrote. I just wanted to clarify my own position on it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I understand... This one I'm sure was talking to me lol... But I understand why you would wonder if he referred to you... For some reason some fans want to discharge their frustration on other fans that don't seem as frustrated... But we're all in the same bandwagon... I wish this season the Cubs won 95 games, but just because I understand it is not likely and that the process takes a few years doesn't mean I am less of a fan or that I'm OK with losing.

    All I think about is that I'll keep my stance and give this process it's due time and if or when we start winning we won't really argue about that, instead, hopefully celebrate.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Agreed. We all want to win. But frustration doesn't mean a greater passion for the team. A lot of those kinds of posts never have specifics, just vague notions of spending more money but nothing as to how or on whom. I guess just sign someone to entertain us.

  • In reply to Caps:

    Well said.

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    In reply to Caps:

    I agree with most of this but there is still some obligation from ownership and management to field the best team possible using all available resources. I am not sure that that is completely the case.

    It seems like the Cubs have all their eggs in two baskets: the farm system and Tanaka. With each passing day I am more and more convinced that Tanaka will not be a member of the Chicago Cubs. Face it, he just doesn't want to come here, or so it seems.

    What is the back up plan? How far does this set the clock back? You can't say "not at all" because then you are saying the Cubs never expected to land Tanaka.

    With the moves (or lack of them this offseason) it seems to me the Cubs may be counting on the youth movement more than I am comfortable with personally. And I am not saying they should have gone nuts in free agency, just that there were other moves to be made that could have better bridged that gap until Alcantara, Bryant and Baez are ready (allegedly the first wave) and then further down the line with Soler, Vogelbach and Almora. We are counting on ALL of these guys to be major league players, and starting players at that. That defies historical odds considerably. I do admit it is not impossible however.

    And there is no starting pitching system-wide, just a bunch of guys who project as 3/4/5 starters. Maybe you get lucky and PJ becomes a 2. At this point (if Tanaka signs with either LA team or NY) you almost have no choice but to sign Samardzjia. I am not comfortable at all with that either.

    John, and I am just asking pleasantly, not being accusatory, and in full disclosure I haven't been reading as much since Ghost Dawg attacked Keith Law with a condescending and unnecessary homophobic insinuation, why do you and your staff never question what the Cubs are doing? You seem to be 100% on board, and that is not a dig at you or your writers at all. In fact I am still on board, but with much less enthusiasm than I was last year at this point.

    I just wonder, I guess, at what point do you personally start to question what is going on with the team, team management and team ownership?

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    The Cubs are doing this in a way very much the way I would do it if I were going to build a team. I've pretty much said this from day one, not just recently. Build the farm, don't take on bad or unnecessary contracts, buy low on FAs, take some good flyers, build with cost-controlled young talent. They even did some of the specific moves I suggested (i.e. signing Scott Feldman) I'm not going to question it after two seasons, especially ones in which the main goal was to build the farm system and create payroll flexibility. I think it's puzzling that a team who has done it wrong for over 100 years brings in someone to do it right -- now fans are ready to go back to doing it the old way again after two seasons. It's as if they said, "We're ready for a rebuild, but only if you can do it in half the time required"

    And you haven't seen progress? What about the young talent? The payroll flexibility? What about being 17 games over just before the deadline two years ago and just 7 last year? If the Cubs improve at the same rate (by another 5 games) they'll be about 3 games over .500 at the trade deadline with the ability to take on salary and a bunch of prospects knocking at the door. I'd take that scenario in a heartbeat.

    I think everyone is suddenly measuring the Cubs progress by their offseason activity this year, but is that really an accurate gauge to measure progress? Do teams like the Marlins and Angels give you incentive to try winning the offseason championship at all costs?

    If the Cubs had signed some of the guys some of these fans were clamoring for like Pujols and Fielder, I would have certainly complained. If they would have signed Cano for that much money I would have complained. If they sign a guy like Nelson Cruz and give up a 2nd round pick, I'll complain. But this front office hasn't made those kind of bonehead moves. When they do, I'll be the first to criticize.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well said John, except I disagree with saying they've done it wrong for 100 years. 2007 and 2008 were not tht long ago. Cubs were best team in baseball those two years. They didn't win WS -- or even a playoff game -- but those were glorious seasons and I'm glad they jacked up the payroll and finally at least WENT FOR IT. Also I'm not sure that signing Fielder and keeping Cashner would have been a bonehead move, or signing Ellsbury, or a few other moves that would cost more money, but would or could have sped things up and avoided suffering through the two worst seasons in the history of this legendarily bad franchise.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Those were fun seasons, but it exemplified how free agency is basically about putting all your marbles in for two seasons. They weren't able to come close to sustaining that success and the organization has been in a downward spiral. And in some ways, the Cubs were lucky. Recent teams like the Angels and Marlins have made similar rolls of the dice and came up snake eyes -- and their organizations will pay for it for years to come.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed on both accounts. Those were danged fun seasons to be a Cubs fan - but when that strategy failed to move past the 1st round of the playoffs a couple years running,.... that short-term strategy (along with IMO active neglect of player development and drafting and scouting at the time) meant that when those guys hit the 'wall' in 2009,... there was nothing left to build on other than a really sparse farm system.

    Samardzija and maybe Marshall being the only two real pitching prospects/youngsters we had on the roster in 2009, although Randy Wells looked promising at the time. And Andrew Cashner & Chris Archer (both who got traded away) had some ML potential.

    Position players,... like Jake Fox, Hoffpauir, Fuld (although he has faired reasonably well since being traded as an 4th/5th OF), and Colvin? Barney has been great defensively, but we know his hitting limitations. That tank was close to empty in 2008, and was made obvious in 2009.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Don't Forget Chris Carpenter and Jay Jackson. People were high on them at the time, but it looks like Mcnutt, Carpenter, and Jackson are busts now.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    While 2007 was fun, the Cubs were hardly the best team in baseball that year. The Cubs were a mere game ahead of the Braves for the sixth best record in the NL, but the Central was terrible that year with another 80 win division winner.

    Going for it is fun, but as others have pointed out there are long term consequences to the moves necessary to go for it. That cannot just be hand waved away.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Nondorf:

    Non, they won 87 games in '07 and were flawed. They were far from the best team that year. You could make a much better case for '08

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Great response!

  • In reply to Theo Epstein:

    LOL go figures... Theo Epstein liked this response.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John; I'd also add to that the building of the scouting and player development staffs. For me, keeping the pipeline of major league ready prospects flowing every season (either with the Cubs or as trade bait), is essential to building as consistent playoff team.

    No more Paterson's or Pie's being brought up before they are developed into major league ready players.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Great points, Alex.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I must argue with the idea that the Cubs expect 'all of' the litnay of Bryant, Baez, Soler, Vogelbach and Almora to pan out as 'stars'. Similarly I don't think that they expect Alcantara, Olt, Edwards, Villanueva, Beeler, Hendricks, Szcuzur, or others to make the ML roster with the Cubs (or with other clubs if used as trade chips).

    I think more the point is - the fact that (for a change) they have this relatively long list of high-caliber prospects in the system - is more the point.

    Even if only half these guys get established as at least replacement level players, and 3-4 of them become solid above replacement level contributors - that's enough to start to build a consistent team around.

    When was the last time you saw a minor league roster for the Cubs so well stocked that Brett Jackson and Vitters aren't even considered top prospects any longer? I know it hasn't happened in my awarenes, and if it has happened it was via the system that Dallas Green had put in place almost 3 decades ago.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    I'm not sure what the history behind all this is. Somehow I missed it, but I hope that both of you can move on here.

  • This is Theo third year rebuilding and there still is no progress regarding the MLB Roster. I'm one who agrees with Jeff Passan article. John says that Ricketts will spend when it's time but Ricketts is saying that there will be no ssignificant spending until renovation take place.

  • In reply to JOCK231:

    Actually... Theo Epstein was hired as the Cubs President of Baseball Operations on October 22, 2011

    Four days later, during the World Series, Theo hired Jed Hoyer & Jason McLeod as his Executive Vice President/General Manager and Senior Vice President of Scouting & Player Development respectively (October 26, 2011)

    Not only was the new Front Office hired to finally bring a World Series title to the Chicago Cubs amidst a 100 year drought, but they also were tasked with rebuilding the Organization's entire Baseball Operations and Farm System from practically the ground up. (Ranked #22 in talent & #29 in Baseball Operations that year!)

    To top it all off, just two days later on Oct. 28, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

    So even if we consider the starting date of the rebuild to be on Oct. 29, 2011 (the day after WS' and 1st day of that off-season) that would mean that the FO has only been on the job for less than 2 years & 3 months.

    In that time they have completely rebuilt the Baseball Operations into one of the best in the Major Leagues, including an outstanding player development program with new state of the art development facilities, and a fully staffed and knowledgeable global scouting department combined with a proprietary self-created computer system to analyze player value properly.

    Halfway through the FO's 3rd off-season, the Cubs farm system is already considered one of the top 5 in all of baseball, and that is before this years draft (including the 4th overall pick) in what many experts agree is a very good draft year.

    I can't wait to see where the Cubs are in another 2 years time, as I am quite confident that it will be a better place than where they are now, and leaps and bounds better than the mess the organization started from just 2 years ago.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2011-organizational-rankings-19-chicago-cubs/

  • In reply to JOCK231:

    I would argue that the front office has made outstanding progress on the major league roster. For the first time in recent memory we'll likely go into opening day with no burdensome contracts weighing the organization down. The Cubs now have tremendous flexibility with no players being blocked at any position. I understand the frustration of fans out there but spending money to win 80 games is typically a losing battle when a roster is constructed as poorly as the 2012-2013 rosters were. Signing expensive free agents on the wrong side of 30 to long term deals does not get the Cubs to the playoffs with the roster core we had in place. In 2014 and for the foreseeable future the front office has the payroll flexibility AND core to start adding pieces that will help take advantage of a window that should open 2015 and stay open for many years if the current regime if left in place.

    So the question remains, as John has often stated, if you think the Cubs could have done better, can you point out one player that the Cubs should have signed over the last two years who would have helped in the short term without hurting in the long term? Better yet, would you have been happy with 80 wins but zero hope of playoffs knowing the money spent to get to 80 wins takes away money from future free agent signings, international signings or player development budgets/personnel? That's the problem with this notion of "cheap" that's been bandied about. I have yet to hear a single person explain how the Cubs could or should be doing it better than they have been without sacrificing the foundation that's a requirement for consistently competitive teams in the modern game.

  • Even the Astros are spending. I don't trust this Cubs ownership until they invest in MLB roster.

  • In reply to JOCK231:

    Really?? The Astros spent 30M on Scott Feldman and that is some how better than the Cubs spending 7M on the same player at a younger, more productive age??

    This is what I mean when some people want the Cubs to spend, just for the sake of spending.

  • As regards the mascot,.... I'm agnostic,.... it doesn't cost anything, it doesn't hurt anything,.... some segment of the viewership might find him/it entertaining,.... and I don't get a chance to watch games much anyway way out here in the "DC" area as I don't subscribe to any of the MLB cable/sattelite networks.

    Mostly read recaps, stats, and on regular occasions listen to a game on internet radio streaming. Try to catch those few network games the Cubs play and when the play the Nats,... So I don't think that matters much.

    As regards 'comebacks' - yep, these are the biggest comeback potential guys on the club, and since all three regressed significantly from their means last year, expecting a rebound to mean is to be expected.

    I'm looking foward to have a consistently good enough Cubs team in a year or two for me to justify getting one of the subscription services that will let me watch these guys with regularity,.... and I love the 'strategy' game of watching the Management try to build this into a long-term winning franchise a la the Cards.

    How many weeks until Spring Training games start? Seems to be just around the corner.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    I agree about the mascot, people need to lighten up a little bit.

    I mean come on, the Cubs are now the 27th team with a mascot out of 30, and Team Mascots are mainly for little kids at the ballpark.

    As someone else said, the outrage on twitter over the cubs trying to do something family friendly is comical!

    On the other hand... speaking of comical, check out the going joke on twitter, even us Cubs fan have to laugh(unfortunately)...

    https://twitter.com/MLBMeme/status/422862164886421504/photo/1

  • I to fell in love with the Cubs in 1977. Mike Vail was a favorite of mine be couldn't stay healthy. Nobody could hit Sutter that year. In 77 Sutter strat-o-matic card was unbelievable. My favorite of all time though was Kingman.

  • In reply to JOCK231:

    That was my first favorite as well. Kingman didn't get there until 78 and I think his big season was in 79. Vail also came in 78, I believe, and he had a tremendous season. Those 77-79 teams in general were the ones that got me excited about the Cubs.

  • Interesting news that Baker has no apparent guaranteed MLB offers on the table. I didn't expect a reaper of last years but thought a more modest one guaranteed to $2M or so plus incentives up to $4-5M might be in the mix.

  • As long as they don't send Clark to meet free agents at the airport like Benny the Bull, I'm fine with the mascot.

    I can deal with the frustration because a real organization is being built. Maybe if the previous administration actually allocated more money to the entire minor league system the rebuild would be further along.

    Here's every draft pick the Cubs have made in every round since 1965.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/index.cgi?team_ID=CHC&draft_round=1&draft_type=junreg&query_type=franch_round

    Here's the updated Cubs payroll obligation up to 2019.

    https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tt7HjIernphaSrv4wMWdUYg&output=html

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/national-league-central/chicago-cubs/

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    That is a great point. If you look at the past Cubs drafts and a complete inability to develop talent, that goes a long way toward explaining their streaks of losing seasons.

    And it's no coincidence that a couple of their best teams, the 89 Cubs and 2003 Cubs, were built with young talent and good value acquisitions.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to ucandoit:

    wow - looking at those 1st rd picks like this is worse than I remember, and I knew it was really bad. about 60 1st rd picks have produced 4 guys with more than 19 career WAR, and only one of them (Wood) did it for the Cubs - and a couple of recent ones have a chance to do it with other organizations as well (Donaldson, maybe Cashner).

    yeesh. No wonder they haven't won in forever.

  • fb_avatar

    As always, I appreciate these updates, but without knowing the context it's hard to know how you're there. Would it be possible to add links to add context?

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Yes. The links are already there, though. Which one(s) are you referring to?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry, they weren't showing up when I was reading it originally. See them now... thanks!

  • In reply to Phil James:

    Ahhh, there was one I forgot to add but I did it seconds after publishing -- but sometimes updates take a while to show up.

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    John,

    I'm hearing that the Score is reporting that WFLD/Fox and the Cubs are negotiating bring their games over there from WGN. Have you heard anything about that?

  • In reply to Miguel Benitez:

    I didn't hear that. Thanks. Will try and find out more this week.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/cubs-looking-cash-next-tv-deal

  • In reply to Miguel Benitez:

    Thanks for the link.

  • In reply to Miguel Benitez:

    I heard something on a related note, regarding Fox's new sports channel Fox Sports 1 being a possible destination for the Cubs WGN games in the interim until the CSN games are up as well. It would give the new channel a boost and give people a reason to check it out...kind of like CSN did. This is really good for the Cubs as it creates leverage for negotiations.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I should add for those that don't know, right now Fox Sports 1 consists of countless episodes of "Fox Sports Live" (the Fox version of Sportscenter), Ultimate Fighting, NASCAR, and a few college basketball games sprinkled in.

  • John,

    Here are a few links that illustrate how poorly researched Passan's article was.

    http://www.tribune.com/media/pdf/2012%20Consolidated%20Financial%20Statements.pdf

    The transaction regarding the "sale" of the Cubs to the Ricketts family is reported in great detail in Note 9 on pages 49-50 in the 2012 Consolidated Financial Statements for The Tribune Company. This deal would be a textbook blueprint on how to construct a leveraged partnership. The $705 million special cash distribution has to come from new debt incurred by the partnership. So it can be reasonably assumed that the debt load of the Cubs exceeded $705 million when the deal closed on Oct. 27, 2009. Where Passan got his figures from is anyone's guess.

    http://www.wolffsamson.com/files/ptxl1002_homsi.pdf

    This is an excellent article that explains in great detail what a leveraged partnership is and how it works. It also cites the Newsday transaction that Sam Zell used one year before the "sale" to the Ricketts family.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/cba_english.pdf

    This is the actual Collective Bargaining Agreement for Major League Baseball. Attachment 22 on page 208 begins the explanation of the Debt Service Rule. The EBITDA Multiplier for the Cubs would appear to be 8 since we are not aware that any debt has been incurred on major renovations at Wrigley Field.

    Now take the $705 million and divide by the EBITDA Multiplier of 8 and that leaves the Cubs needing EBITDA of $88.125 million every year to comply with the Debt Service Rule in the CBA. To be quite honest, I really don't know how the Cubs were able to comply with the rule the past couple of years.

    I would assume that the partnership agreement would not allow the Ricketts family to pay down the debt or take the Cubs out of the leveraged partnership until Oct. 27, 2016 for Sam Zell's tax-avoidance scheme to have any chance of success.

    I find it really frustrating that journalists such as Passan and Whitmeyer do not take the time to research such readily available information before depicting the Ricketts family in such a negative light. The time to judge the new owners is when the constraints of the leveraged partnership are no longer in place. All of my frustrations with the current state of the Cubs Major League team are focused squarely on Sam Zell

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    Wow...great stuff, rdacpa. Thanks for doing that research. Sheds a lot of light on the financial situation.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Looking more closely, the debt guarantee for The Tribune Company was capped at $699 million. Also, the first $39.884 million is "excludable" debt. So the EBITDA would have to exceed $82.3895 million.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    So does the "cpa" in rdacpa mean certified public accountant? Maybe John would let you write a guest article on this subject explaining the limitations on the Cubs ownership that you found in your research (in slightly more colloquial terms). Thanks for the post!

  • In reply to KSCubsFan:

    I would certainly welcome that if reach a is interested. Finances not my forte.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    I said it before and I'll say it again - I am shocked that Selig gave his consent to this type of transaction. Perhaps Zell told him that he would slash payroll to the bone and put up a bunch of 100 loss seasons if he didn't give the green light - but damn, I've never heard of this type of a transaction.

    Also, why does it seem like the Cubs can never catch a break. Excluding the decades of futility on the baseball side, these debt constraints, the rooftop issues, constant meddling from local politicians, lack of flexibility to make any improvements to their own stadium without sign off from every municipal, county, state and historical society, inability to secure public funding for enhancements to the stadium (something 95% of sports teams have received over the last 30 years), and on and on and on...

    All you have to do is look across town at the Sox. They've not only faced none of these issues - they've even been handed the keys to a new stadium that probably has a 100 year lease at the steep rate of $1/year.

    I love Wrigley, love the area (and live in the area) but perhaps it really is time to start looking at the surrounding suburbs. I'm not advocating a move, but doing some serious legwork on 'preliminary negotiations' might help remove some roadblocks.

  • In reply to Roscoe Village:

    I agree with you. Looking at possible locations in the suburbs would help negotiations. And if a fantastic opportunity came up say in DuPage county, I wouldn't mind them moving. But I think the odds of this happening is slim but not zero.

  • In reply to rdacpa:

    Awesome research. I would normally read and not comment, but you deserve a big hat tip for this my man. First time I've heard it anywhere and it's all very clearly laid out.

  • Mascot? Ugh. Next thing you know, they'll want to put in one of those damn Jumbotrons. Oh wait...

  • In reply to BudMan:

    :D

  • In reply to BudMan:

    Clark the Cub I can live with, jumbotrons playing commercials at 110db between innings ruins the experience.

  • Clark the Cub!

    He no doubt won out over other mascot ideas:

    Tommy Tendon, a bear constantly recovering from Tommy John surgery.  

    Benny Blunder.  Oh the clumsy cub hijinks as Benny fumbles and bumbles up and down the Wrigley aisles.

    Jerry Journeyman.  Jerry is an unremarkable bear in his mid thirties who can't hit pitches tossed by left handed bears.  Jerry is often seen at bars late at night and shows up at Wrigley tired and unenthused.  

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Hey, don't forget Flip (some sort of fish) and his sidekick, Trade Bait!

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    In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Dammit! Where's the "like" button on this thing???

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    Flip would be perfect.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Harry Beary, (Ursidae Singelmaltus) large, extremely nearsighted animal commonly sighted near baseball stadiums and local watering holes.Known for frequent episodes of hibernation during broadcasts, which typically follow longer periods of nocturnal activities. Occasionally found observing the activities of baseball athletes, but unable to pronounce their names correctly.
    Call is a characteristic “A one, and a two...”

  • My preferred mascot name is WUNY, as in Wait Until Next Year.

    Also here's a related funny fake news story on Chicago Now titled "Cubs mascot causes GM Jed Hoyer to quit"
    http://www.chicagonow.com/fluffington-post/2014/01/cubs-mascot-999/

  • I have been down this weary road with the Cubs for roughly 55 years now. Heartbreak, heartache, frustration, anger, you name it. Most of you here know exactly what I mean. Just to illustrate how important this team is to me, in that 6th game of '03, BEFORE the roof fell in, I was in tears - near sobbing - BECAUSE we were finally going to the World Series - so I thought. It was something like unrequited love that was finally requited - shear joy that is indescribable. When I see people harping on this owner and FO, all I see is the usual "what have you done for me lately?" and the instant gratification permeation of this country. People who live in the moment.

    Don't get me wrong, because I would be elated to win a championship, even just the pennant, with a roster built by any means, but how much pride is there in purchasing a winner? I would much rather win with homegrown talent, trades resulting from our own talent, and the sprinkles of FAs that answer any remaining needs to put us over the top. When I was a kid, I was a Yankee fan (Mantle, Maris, Howard, Skowron, Ford, etc.), but then Steinbrenner entered the scene and that was it for me. The old song, "Can't Buy Me Love" rings true for me, and it disgusts me when people refuse to see the forest for the trees. We have a century plus of knowing what doesn't work (Yankees excepted and perhaps Dodgers excepted now), but that apparently isn't meaningful to the guy who lives in the moment.

    Sorry for the rant, but this is the kind of attitude that really get's this old goat's goat.

  • I know it isn't mentioned in this article but I have heard a lot lately about cubs leaving wgn. Anyone have any thoughts on that? I for one would be sad to see them leave wgn!!!

  • Baseball is unique amongst the major professional sports leagues because of its multi-level miinor league system and the time/expense/patience required to develop players through that system and prepare those players for success at the highest level. I know 99.9% of fans see nothing beyond the highest level (the Chicago Cubs) but I (and many people on this blog) fall in the .1% category. I enjoy the process at all levels, the interplay between the here and the now that the organizational system allows. What makes baseball special is the way that fans can enjoy or experience the success/failure of the organization on so many differing levels. I am a very patient person, so the timelines and ebb and flow of baseball suit me very well. I enjoy watching/examining the Javy Baez's, Albert Almora's, Corey Patterson's and other random minor leaguers that never made it to the show as much as I enjoy watching the Chicago Cubs because in my mind they are all Cubs. They are all a part of my team.

    For fans that crave immediate returns, players with average playing careers of less than 3 years, and only position on the field that really matters (usually determining the fate of the entire team) they should go watch football. Its the sport for the short attention span (and I'm not saying that is a bad thing, or that people that like football are somehow beneath baseball fans, I am a football fan as well). Your team is bad? The contracts of the players on your team are not guaranteed so they can be jettisoned with little reprecussions and you can bring in replacements and get a high draft pick that in theory should help your team immediately, and you can usually determine within 8 games or so whether that player will be any good.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I agree. It's different, but I enjoy the minor league atmosphere and the following the minor league players as much as the big league team.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    And,... attending minor league games is decidely fun,.... love hitting a game or two each summer of my local Orioles MiL team - although I managed to not hit a game this summer and it was sorely missed.

    Games are fun,... and when you get a chance to watch a game with a future 'star' on the roster, it's kind of priceless.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I agree and reading the Cubs Den has played a major role. In regard to drkazmd 65's list of prospects above that will not all make it, I think that all on that list will play mlb in some capacity for some team if not the Cubs. I base that on their good talent and good 'make up' to go with that talent.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    THX 44slug,.... I'm actually of the opinion that (barring injury) most of those guys in the top couple tiers of Cubs prospects (most of whom I list) will be servicable major league players at some level.

    Many of them (again IMO) will get their chance in the next 2-3 seasons to demonstrate whether, or not, they can do it. I personally see Beaz, Bryant, Olt and maybe Hendricks and Beeler getting some opportunities this season. Alcantara and Soler and a few upper level pitching prospects might get a 'cup of coffee' when the roster gets expanded end of season.

    By end of 2015 - I think the only three players we are likely to see on the current 25-man as starters are Castro (if not traded in favor of giving Beaz or Alcantara a starting slot), Rizzo and Castillo.

    The turn over is going to be signficiant.

  • I'm so excited to see that countdown in the upper right corner of this blog is finally below 30...

  • To me it is almost like a question Would you rather be a braves fan or a marlins fan ...marlins have 2 ws and a lot of suck, but braves have a decade of quality winning baseball and only 1 championship ...I guess it would be better to come up with a team that has been solid and not won the whole thing, but the braves org is looked as a disappointment for only winning 1 back then.

    I think I would rather be a braves fan consistently a good product

  • In reply to waitingOn2015:

    Really? I suspect you are young, because at age 52, I say just give me one Cub WS Championship and I'll take another 40 years of sucking. Just one! And if we can get two, with two different teams separated by a decade or so, like the Marlins -- well, that would be heaven.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    See you in heaven.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    What happens, though, is that if you can build a team that can consistently be in that 87-97 win range, you have a chance for every year, not a 2 year window, a 10 year wait, a two year window, a 10 year wait, etc.

    Isn't it better to pay for those bad years up front than a recurring long term payment after every couple of years?

  • So....10 days until Tanaka decides

  • I am sure it has already been talked about here as I am not much of an original thinker, but what are the odds that if the Cubs come out of the gates pretty strong that the front office decides to spend big on this year's draft? They showed they will do it in the International Game, but if they do it in the Draft, they are subject to lose a 1st round pick if I remember correctly. If they have a low pick in each round, maybe they can find some guys that fell far because of monetary demands. I know they will have to pay a big penalty (is there one higher than 100% of the overage?). Anyways, i was thinking if they have #20 pick or so, and they feel they can get some one in the 4th round that is 1st round quality but fell, do they try to beat the system again? Maybe this is a post for a different story, but I have been thinking about it for a while. What would we have to get in order for it to be worth losing a 1st round pick and 100% of the overage?

  • In reply to Zakh:

    Impact prospects do not drop to the 4th round. The chance of that happening is very small.

  • In reply to John57:

    They sure as hell have in the past. That is why people in the later rounds (Spellcheck comes to mind) used to get higher bonuses. I know overspending in the later rounds doesn't happen as much as it did before the collective bargaining agreement, but you have to think that if there is a 1st round talented high Schooler out there that says he is going to whatever D1 college, most people won't pick him in the 1st-3rd rounds. if we don't care about the money aspect, why not pick him up in the 4th, throw more money at him than he would get with a top 5 pick (or whatever you deem worthy) and get him signed. Or hell go overslot on like 5-6 guys. I don't know, but it just seems like something this front office would do to out think the system.

    Anyways, I hadn't seen it posted here, was trying to think outside the box, but i am sure someone has posted it here

  • In reply to Zakh:

    I think the penalties get steep rather quick. First the loss of a 1st round pick, then the loss of 1st and 2nd round pick, then the loss of the next two years 1st round pick.
    I think at best it would be a very narrow and risky opportunity.

  • Don't really see any downside to having Clark as a new part of the Cubs moving forward, chiso piso lighten up, lifes to short. Besides he looks similar to Daytona's mascot except he has no shades on and look how well they're playing, never under estimate the power my friends! As far as the rebuild , I myself have been a Cubs fan ever since I knew what baseball was and I'm pushing 65, Theo IMO is doing it the way it should be done for sustained success. Sure I get as weary and disappointed as the next guy/gal, but now with the realistic feeling of knowing that a quality organization is being established ( finally ) that should have the talent from the top down to be and remain extremely competetive and upper level/division year in and year out. That kind of overhaul if you will, dosen't happen in just a couple of years, we're talking from ground up. Had to be done , but nobody seemed to want to sign up to get it done and hear all the negativety and endure all the "bad Chicago press" with all their wisdom and the outcries of the fans as well. Tough job but somebody has got to do it, I'm glad we've got the ownership, FO in place that knows how and will make the Cubs entire org. no longer the "lovable losers". It's like the monkey said when he got his tail caught in the lawnmower.. it won't be long now!!

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    I agree that Clark is going to go over gangbusters with the six year olds -- he might even make Wrigley more of a family place and less of a fraternity house. (The horror!) Where I question the Cubs is when the decided to go on Twitter, which is really a very adult place, filled with snark and cynicism, and launch him with this Tweet: "Still figryuing out how 2 tyype with these big pawz. Will gett lessons from @Cubs. Come back soon!!" There was absolutely no way that was going to end well. And it didn't.

  • Just something I've been thinking about. If the Cubs can't sign Tanaka and have some money still in their budget, why not restructure the Jackson, Castro, or Rizzo deals to pay them more up front. Yes it will end up costing the Cubs money in the long run due to time value of money, but it also gives the players an incentive to agree to it. If you can pay them a large chunk of their money in the next two years, then the team would have near infinite payroll flexibility in the coming years when they are truly ready to compete. At the same time, it would make someone like Jackson an even more enticing trade candidate come next year or 2016.

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    Love the article John. A couple of things I'd like to comment on.

    #1
    "First baseman Anthony Rizzo projects to have a solid .255/.336/.464 season with 27 HRs (2.9 WAR)."

    I love Rizzo. The guy grew up just 15 minutes away from where I lived for over 10 years. And that makes me feel like I'm somehow connected with the guy. Nothing made more happy than when the Cubs acquired him to play 1B on MY team. But I must admit. If this kid doesn't hit .300 with 30HR and 110 RBI's each season, does he get used as trade bait due to the emergence of Vogelbach? Had to say right now as Vogelbach is still at Daytona. But it has to be something to watch especially if the NL doesn't adopt the DH soon.

    #2
    Clark the mascot.
    Give me a break hater's. It's just a mascot for kids. It's great that kids will have something to connect to at the ball park. Anyone else try to keep a child of age 7 and under interested in a 9 innings baseball game?

    #3
    " Other bloggers will tell you that the primary goal of the Cubs is to win a World Series; any perceived move that carries you further from that goal is a poor one."

    This is the primary battle cry of White Sox fans as well. I can't start to tell ya how many heated battles I've had with White Sox fans about what constitutes a "winning" organization. They constantly point to winning the WS in 2005 as the reason the White Sox are a better organization as a whole. I'm also sure that they feel not winning anything since gives them a pass of some kind. I'm also quite sure that if/when the Cubs win the World Series those same White Sox fans will just simply brush it off as pure luck but their winning of the 2005 WS was an act of skill.

    It will take the Cubs 2 or 3 WS championships before others will look at this rebuild as something of sure genius. But to win 2 or 3 WS you just don't "buy it" as so many teams try to do. It must be cultivated down on the farm.

    Funny thing is, when the Cubs start winning, we will suddenly see the whole country suddenly state their allegiance the the Cubs. We will see Cubs hats being worn all over the place and everyone will claim to be fans since childhood...... lol

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I'm not an anti-White Sox guy but their WS entailed a lot of good fortune. Good for them, but to pretend it was skillful management at the top is not accurate. They didn't have any kind of process they could repeat. Everything came together at the right time for them. That's wonderful for them and I don't want to knock that WS but have to be honest here.

    That 1994 team, on the other hand, was truly great and loved the way they built that team. That for them was unlucky in that the strike ended their hopes, so maybe luck evened out for them. They had a nice run between 1990-1996. I'm more envious of that then their WS, they could have one one or two WS rings in that era.

  • I've had nothing bad to say about the front office since Hendry left. Until now.

    The two things that always set the Cubs apart from other teams (in a a positive way) were 1) Cub fans refused to do The Wave and 2) the Cubs never had a silly, cutesy mascot running around. As a Cub fan since 1963, to say I hate both of these with the white-hot intensity of a thousand burning suns would be an understatement.

    They'll say "The mascot is for the kids". When was the last time you heard kids yelling in unison "We want a hit!". For decades, at some point you would hear that at every Cub home game. Why haven't you heard that in recent years? No kids at the games, that's why.

    The only mascot with talent and who should've ever existed was The San Diego Chicken. But he WAS NOT A CUB MASCOT!!!

    Now, get off my lawn.

  • My take on Clark: if kids end up liking it, then it achieves it's intent. Wrigley doesn't have space for a kids section like the Cell has. They are trying to come up with something family friendly which works within their confines. Personally, I think the design is little a bit of a miss, but in the big picture, not too important. Just my view.

  • Hey, Myles here. This isn't the active thread, so I have no idea how or even if this will be received, but here goes.

    I'd say that your criticisms of my article are mostly fair (and they weren't exactly directed at you). However, I find myself incredulous that the phrase "we paid good money, so entertain us." could be derided. It is absolutely the truth; we ARE paying good money, so we DO deserve to be entertained. Building a franchise that has sustainable success is the job of baseball operations. They are progressing towards that goal; maybe not as fast as I'd like (no playoffs in 5 years, Joe Mather getting -2.1 WAR one season), but they are unmistakeably progressing. If the goal is to tear it down and "manage our expectations," they why are the "expectations" of what ticket-holders and people who attend games still so high? People pay a lot of money to see a product that is really poor. That money is going somewhere, and if they are taking it, I'd like it to go the actual team. I get no tangible benefit from them just saying "the money will be there when they need it." If that's the case, my money will be there when they deserve it.

    I live in Indianapolis now, so it's pretty difficult to attend games these days. I went to just 2 last year. However, when I was in high school in Crown Point (just an hour away), I'd go to maybe a dozen games a year. Most of the time, the Cubs were bad, but at least the tickets weren't outrageous. It's a lot harder for me to rationalize going to a game these days because prices are high for a bad product (and the StubHub kerfluffle shows that are actively trying to keep ticket prices high).

    I think the paragraph I dislike most in your criticism of me is in the comments. I'm not sure if you're referring to me specifically, but saying stuff like "A lot of those kinds of posts never have specifics, just vague notions of spending more money but nothing as to how or on whom. I guess just sign someone to entertain us." is really disingenuous. It's playing volleyball without the net, because even if I was to suggest moves they could have made last offseason, I'd get derided for playing armchair-GM with the benefit of hindsight. It's a game that no critic can win, so I won't be playing it. This also, of course, neglects the fact that we know SO LITTLE of what GMs actually do on a day-to-day basis, so to just say "X should do/should have done Y" is pretty unrealistic - for all we know, they tried to do Y. Since the process isn't exactly transparent, we can only measure results. If we measure results, we see a team that has little if any improvement on the major league roster from 2012 to 2013 to 2014 and a much improved farm system (which is the inevitable result of multiple top-level picks). I'm willing to sit through the lean years because I love the Cubs, but I have no problem with complaining that they are currently crying poor, spending poor, and getting rich.

    It all comes back to your first paraphrase of my column. We, as a fanbase, are expected to pay more than almost every team. We, in return, are expected to endure more less than almost every team. There is no prism in which this can't be viewed as a failure in the here and now. We have promises of a brighter future, but those are just words. We almost blindly assume that our prospects will come through for us, and then we'll have money to spend to contend, almost as if no other team is on the same track as us. Here's a fun fact; the Cubs (who have little to no talent on the 2014 major league roster) might have the 3rd best farm system in their own division right now. Baseball America has the Pirates as the best in baseball, and the Cardinals are neck-and-neck with us. Both of those teams have major league squads maybe 25-30 wins better than us and equivalent farm systems. If 2016 comes and we're 84-78, 6 games out, will the 2012-2014 seasons feel like much of a success? Of course not.

    There are no promises for the future, and no hope for the present. 29th of 30 sounds about right.

    All of this being said, I really do respect you and your opinions, and I admit that a good chunk of my article was maybe not fair to other bloggers (who I shouldn't pretend to speak for). Civil minds can always disagree.

  • In reply to Myles:

    Hey Myles, I just wrote to clarify because my name was mentioned on top and then there were things that I didn't think represented my views. I know that it wasn't necessarily about me specifically, but I didn't want people to get the impression that I was one of those "other bloggers".

    As for the part about not naming names or being specific about what or how you'd like to spend, I think it's important. It's not so much about playing armchair GM as it is just clarifying what you mean by spending. Is it about signing Cano? Choo? Or maybe someone like Ubaldo Jimenez. Maybe just Paul Maholm. But the point there is that there is a difference when you sign any of those players in terms of money, years, long term value, and draft pick comp. You don't necessarily have to name names, but, I think those distinctions matter. I'm all for spending on 100M or more on Tanaka -- but I wouldn't spend half that money on Jimenez, for example. I'd rather sign Maholm if it's not Tanaka. So, I do want the Cubs to improve and spend, but I think there's a sensible way to do it. There may be a time where I would like a Jimenez or a Choo type player, but I don't think that is now. The timing is wrong and short term entertainment is not a good reason. In 3 years those same briefly entertained fans will be belly-aching about an aging, overpaid player and the Cubs not having enough payroll space to add players when they need them most.

    As for 29th of 30th, we'll see. I think projections based on payroll and/or offseason activity are overly simplistic and often misleading. Passan's article was poorly thought out, obviously influenced by his agent contacts, and it pandered to frustrated fans -- and I'm not afraid to say it. It was garbage, but not because of his opinion that the Cubs won't be competitive. It lacked perspective and it lacked imagination. Rob Neyer wrote about a similarly themed piece but it was done so much better.

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