Cubs Business Side Raising Expectations For Front Office?

Cubs Business Side Raising Expectations For Front Office?

It has been widely speculated that the Cubs business side has been holding back the baseball operation.

Is the business bunch also writing expectation checks the Cubs front office cannot cash?

The thinking has been the overall lack of progress regarding rooftop battles and a substantial television windfall has stalled Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from making progress on the field.

Yet, we all have heard by now that this front office doesn’t want to throw money at their problems. That is both smart and true, to a degree.

I’m sure Theo and the gang would have liked some more ammunition to land attractive IFAs much like Masahiro Tanaka.

Much of the media stories paint an ugly picture that the Cubs swung and missed badly on Tanaka and Joe Girardi. Paul Sullivan’s piece today is a prime example of what shape the public perception is taking these days.

But Epstein and Hoyer also have had to deal with the embarrassment of losing out to the Yankees on manager Joe Girardi and Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka after reports and tweets from prominent media outlets suggested they were set on spending any amount to snare Girardi and prepared to "blow away the field" on Tanaka.

Yes, the Cubs went hard after Girardi. Their offer supposedly bested the Yankees, but he simply wasn’t leaving New York, like many suspected all along.

The front office was always more realistic about that scenario anyway.

Could the same be said for the business side? They desperately wanted Girardi to be the new face of the team.

Regarding Tanaka, Barry Rozner, like Sullivan pointed to those reports (including what I was told) that the Cubs simply wouldn’t be outbid for the prized free agent.

There were varying reports on the Cubs bid, but no matter what it was, they were simply outbid.

Rozner, while on WSCR yesterday, pointed the finger directly at Cubs biz honcho Crane Kenney. Rozner speculates Kenney has been behind leaks to create the perception he is heavily involved in the baseball side as well.

Yet, I hear that Kenney has been quite clandestine in his dealings. In other words, he isn't doing any talking. That would actually put him in lockstep with the quiet front office.

Furthermore, Julian Green does all the public talking these days for the non-baseball issues.

The hiring of Green was viewed as a shrewd move for the Cubs, due to his Chicago political prowess. He would probably be even more ballyhooed by now, if it weren’t for those pesky rooftop businesses.

Wherever any leaks may be coming from, they aren’t helping. Epstein likes to manage expectations, not raise them.

When it comes to the front office’s frustration with the business end, it is more of a problem that could develop down the road, less a current issue. That is somewhat encouraging.

One source firmly believes Theo and Jed are content building up assets for now. Yet, when they are ready to compete the money better be there or things could get ugly.

After the last few seasons, I shudder to think what ugly looks like.


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  • Tom , I think you and I agree that the office may come faster than some people are cautioning. That being said, it seems like the plan to develop a playoff-competitive rotation is in a major state of flux( Shark limbo, Tanaka whiff, etc). You have to assume that a big move(s) will be coming via FA( Bailey, Shields, Scherzer) or trade for a big-time arm (e.g Price).

    At what point does some of the discipline/austerity of the "plan" -some forced & some by choice-go by the boards? At some point, as evidenced by Yank-Tanaka situation , you have to go out and get a guy(s) to get to that next level. The market isn't going to deliver the guys we need at "our price".

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I think there is truth to that. Their situation may call for an over bid. I think in the Cespedes case, that could've worked.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    I also believe they will pay big for FA ace next year if avail.

  • I'm a big fan of building a franchise from the ground up so I am really enjoying this aspect of the Cubs right now. I hate when franchises put band aids on major problems. I think the Cubs have 3 of the best baseball minds in MLB. They pay big attention to the small details. Right now I am infatuated with IFA signings. I was wonder how much IFA spending the Cubs would have had next year hadn't they been penalized. They should just spend it now on as many players they can until July 2.

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    Good call, Tom. Not a big deal right now as they continue to build the system. But the trouble could come once the prospects start coming up. Before long, they're going to have a lot more clarity in terms of who's playing where. Once they have clarity and know exactly what's needed, they'll be able to target a big-time FA to round things out. And, given the low payroll, they could overpay if needed. The business side had better be up and running, pulling its weight by then.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Good points. They have time to figure out where they need help. Think it's going yo be SP and more LH hitting.

  • Leaks have plagued this regime as much as many of their actual public statements. Solving the communications problems are critical to their progress on all fronts. Internal divisions, if they actually exist, are always due to poor leadership. Having co-presidents reporting to a CEO is a poor structure. It sounds good in theory, but usually doesn't work in reality.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    Interesting take. Sounds like when it comes to baseball however, this is Theo show all the way.

  • I don't know why Crane Kenney was retained when the Ricketts acquired the team, and I have no clue at all why he's still there. As eager as I was to see Oneri Fleita replaced, he at least helped develop our Dominican scouting operation. If Kenney ever did anything positive for the Cubs, it's been kept a secret from me.

  • It seems that no one who questions the Cubs effort to sign Tanaka ever mentions the 4-year opt-out option that Tanaka made a pre-requisite to any deal. That essentially made signing Tanaka a no-go for the Cubs right from the start. Money alone was not the issue and it's not clear that a significantly higher (but sane) offer from the Cubs would have induced him to relinquish that opt-out clause, which basically makes him a free agent again in 4 years if he's any good and an albatross for 7 years if he isn't.

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