Ricketts supporting Theo in managerial search and rebuild process, not influencing him

Yesterday, I desperately hoped that the Cubs were making the Sveum decision for the right reasons.  Theo Epstein’s statement yesterday allayed many of my concerns but today Gordon Wittenmeyer wrote this,

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and business president Crane Kenney are said to have pushed strongly for Girardi.

But despite my fears yesterday, I have heard enough both on and off the record from multiple sources to suggest that this is not true at all — at least not in the manner in which it’s implied.  For one, we know that Epstein left the Red Sox in large part because of ownership interference and Ricketts would not risk eventually losing him by making the same mistake.  He is supporting Theo Epstein in every way in this managerial search (including financially) — but he is not influencing his decisions.

What I can believe is that Ricketts, like many people, is quite fond of Joe Girardi and perhaps he has made his preference known, but the decision is 100% on Epstein and Hoyer.

As it should be.

I’ve said time and time again that the curse of the Cubs stems not from a goat, but from 100 years of bad ownership that  a) had a different, more marketing based agenda, or  b) were more interested in raising the financial value of the franchise, or c) simply did not fully support the team financially.  The common thread with all the owners has been that winning a World Series has not been a priority.  In that light, maybe it’s no surprise that the Cubs haven’t accidentally stumbled upon a World Series Championship in the last century or so.

Ricketts gets it, though.  He handed Theo the reins and stepped aside and let him make the decisions and, just as importantly, is there to support him when it’s something that Theo really wants.  He went above and beyond to try and snatch Anibal Sanchez from the Tigers, even flying out to make sure the Cubs made the highest bid possible.  I also expect Ricketts to continue to support Theo financially for any player that fits the team’s long term plan, such as the potential pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka this winter.

He has supported a rebuild from the bottom up that has yet to surface at the MLB level.  That is no small thing for an owner to do because it is a long term investment at the cost of short term revenue.  When I spoke to Ricketts shortly before the Theo Epstein hire, he laid out a long term plan that included a greater investment in the draft and the farm system as well as a bigger focus on the international market, including their Dominican Academy that looks to do more than just teach players baseball.  He has followed through on everything he said he would.  And then he picked out the guy who he felt could best execute his long term view in Epstein. It’s an ambitious, big picture investment that Cubs fans have not seen in their lifetimes and I think both sides want to see it through.

What’s more, the plan has been successful.  The Cubs have built one of the strongest farm systems in baseball and have become a major player in the international market, even if both have yet to bear much fruit at the MLB level — but it’s getting closer.

I have no reason to believe that Ricketts would abandon his long term plan — a plan which he fully knew might make it rough for a couple of years.  Make no mistake, he knew exactly what he was getting into.  The losing, the drop in attendance is not what they had hoped for — but it was also not unexpected.

It is no different now with the managerial hire.  It is Theo’s decision all the way, with Ricketts there to support him if he needs it.




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  • Could you imagine if the guy that spotted Theo at SB's stopping in for coffee spots Joe Girardi walking into DD's?!

  • In reply to lokeey:

    LOL! I think that Starbucks has to be off limits for any managerial candidate!

  • Great piece John. I believe many fans have too suspicious about Ricketts, Theo, and Girardi. None are underhanded types. That's not say that stuff goes behind the scenes, but not everything is for the public to know as it happens. Ricketts probably is in on baseball discussions because he has been around the games for a while now. His opinion should have value, but that doesn't mean that he is a dictator. Someone from the FO most likely contacted Joe to assess his level of interest in the Cubs manager's job, but that doesn't mean he signed a contract minus the date. The above folks know what can be said and not said. No point in over thinking it or being sinister.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thank you. I have found Ricketts and Theo to be quite honest (and have heard the same from the non-Cubs baseball people I know) and it's refreshing.

  • John, I usually agree with you most of the time, but this headline and article is a bit misleading.

    There seems to be no basis of fact for your assertion other than Epstein went through this before.

    None of us know the pressures that are on Tom, Theo, Jed, etc, so it's really hard to make your headline confidently as as a "seemingly definitive" statement in my opinion.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    I have strong off the record basis from good sources.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    In that case, good enough. ;)

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Thanks for trusting me on that. I'm pretty happy with the way things are looking right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just curious -- do you have good sources on the financial situation? I'd love to get a better read on how bad (or not bad) things *actually* are.

  • In reply to Matt Mosconi:

    Unfortunately, I really don't. Finances not my area of expertise and not something I discuss regularly.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Nice piece John. This needs to be read by the seemingly growing fan base that has the opinions of: "Ricketts is Cheap..." "Ricketts doesnt care about winning..." "All Ricketts cares about is making money..."

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Thanks. He has spent money, just not on free agents, which is what's most visible to most fans -- and even then the Cubs have been in the running (Sanchez, Darvish, Ryu).

  • It sounds like things are smooth in the penthouse. Unfortunately for us fans the ballpark has been an outhouse. I have, high hopes as I have since 1945.,
    I've gotten very wet pissing into the wind for all these years. I have my fingers crossed for Girardi, who I believe is a great fit for us. My restraint in declaring kids who haven't played an inning above AA potential HOF candidates is based on decades of observing that for every Derek Jeter there are a thousand prospects who never had 50 PAs in the bigs.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    I agree prospect attrition is a concern and we have to understand that not all of them will pan out. The best way to try and combat that is to do what the Cubs are doing -- develop multiple impact prospect and tons of depth in the farm system. Out of the 100 prospects I and others have mentioned in the past few weeks, you only need 2 or 3 to be big impact guys and perhaps a few more to play lesser roles for the team to have success. The bigger and deeper you build that farm, the greater chance you have for any of these guys panning out.

    The Cubs issue for the most part has been that they've put all their eggs on one prospect or two, like Felix Pie. And if you think about it, before Theo came, Brett Jackson was the top prospect -- and he hasn't turned out either. But the chances are if you get 4 guys who are better than Brett Jackson and Felix Pie (as the Cubs have now) the odds are better that a couple of them will pan out the way you hoped.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Alternatively you could tank three straight seasons to get sure things like Appel and Rodon.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I always say I'm no financial wizard and that is 100% true, but I equate the Astros strategy to that of an investor who puts all his money in long term, speculative (but highly rated) stocks. It could pay off big time or it could end up being a disaster. I think most other teams -- actually, all other teams, are taking a more diversified approach.

    On a related note...

    I know that Law was saying the other day that he doesn't understand the criticism of the Astros strategy and implied they have no choice. Well, they do have a choice. If they didn't, then why isn't every non playoff contender doing this? Alternatives are implied by other rebuilding teams taking different strategies. And as long as there are alternatives, there is room for criticism.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I saw the debate with you and Law.

    I come in somewhere in the middle. To some extent, I think they're doing the same thing as the Cubs, which a much longer horizon. Whereas the Cubs are trading for guys like Edwards and Olt -- who have questions but are closer to the majors -- the Astros are hitching their wagon to guys like Correa, McCullers, Ruiz, and Nicely, who are significantly further away. But I'm not sure come with more question marks than Olt, just different question marks. The Cubs supplement that with guys like Rizzo and (hopefully) CarGo, whereas the Astros choose to supplement with guys who are as close to sure thing as you can get with Appel and Rodon.

    Exactly which system works better we'll find out. (I know which one I hope works better.) But I think they're fairly similar.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The Cubs have also signed MLB free agents to at least give the current club a chance to compete and some of which may end up being long term solutions The Astros seem to be thinking that at some point 3-4 years down the road they'll be able to flick a switch. Despite their monumental efforts to punt seasons, their farm system is no better than the Cubs and they lag well behind the entire league in even long term MLB talent. They are depending solely on their farm to produce and very few teams are successful doing that.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't disagree that they're taking a much longer view. I'm not sure they think they'll switch it on as much as some talent will start graduating to the majors in the next two to three years, and then that will be supplemented with Schierholtz type free agents after their own talent starts to "ruin" their draft position. But that's admittedly about 90% guesswork and 10% chatting with folks.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I'm sure it all may work as planned. I just think it's riskier because if it doesn't work, you're back at square one and you've thrown away any chance to compete for at least 5-7 years. It'll be an interesting test case because if it doesn't work, they'll probably go down in history as the only team to intentionally try that extreme strategy of losing games. And I say extreme because other teams, like the Cubs, Marlins, Twins, Sox,etc. seem to be employing a similar strategy but not to the extent the Astros are.

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    If the Cubs get Girardi, (no guarantee), but I like this as an upgrade to the talent. If the Bears could upgrade Cutler with Aaron Rodgers, Bears fans would agree.

    I understand the "Dale didn't have enough talent to win" argument, but I would like to see a manager who will do some of the following things:
    1. In late innings in the National League a double switch can be applied when you make a pitching change so you can plan ahead with a pinch hitter.
    2. If your #8 hitter has a slash line of .208/266/303, its OK to pinch hit for him in the 8th and 9th innings.
    3. If your beefy or portly Catcher reaches base in the 8th or 9th inning it is acceptable to pinch run for him and swap him with the portly or beefy back up,

    Watching the Cubs struggle was rough, but if it looks like the manager is making moves late in games to try and win, at least it looks as if he is trying. Too many times Dale just sat there. He would be terribly outmatched against LaRussa using his pen and bench.

  • I am hoping this next move is like the switch the Blackhawks made from Savard to Quenneville. There are so many similarities to these organizations, including the change in ownership, the change in management, the losing and attendance drops, the high draft picks and infusion of young, elite talent. Unfortunately, baseball drafts don't yield results as quickly as hockey can. So, while the Cubs aren't ready for all the aspects of phase two of the plan, supporting the core with an infusion of elite FA's still with prime years, i.e. Hossa, Theo is really being proactive here and bringing in a new manager, so that his future core players will hear one strong and reliable voice when they start their ML service time.

    I will be watching the Blackhawks raise another banner tonight, and hoping that next year, with the right manager in place, fans will start to clearly identify who the Cubs' version of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    I was also thinking of the Bulls, firing Del Negro after 2 years & bringing in Thibs. There are less similarities than with your comparison, but one thing I remember hearing from the national guys, was that Vinny didn't have a poor W/L record. It goes beyond that. I also remember GarPax saying Vinny was not the guy they thought he was. That seems to be the Dale Sveum situation. I hope the next manager we get is as good a communicator as Thibs appears to be.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    That's not a bad analogy at all, actually. It kind of fits. Those guys seemed to be the answer but you can only learn so much from an interview, sometimes it takes a couple of years to see what they can actually do.

  • I have a hard time believing that strategic thinking executives like Theo, and especially Ricketts, do anything without multiple contingencies explored/considered and a succession plan in place. They are trending quite nicely on the long term plan... Dale may or may have been their guy initially. Maybe he was the best available after Maddox bailed and they figured they'd give him a chance. IDK, but I never once thought this was about hiring Girardi. Joe may in fact get hired, or be the leading candidate... But to me, this was always about his inability to develop the MLB core assets.

    Quotes like that one from Wittenmeyer turn my stomach against the legitimate stuff he reports and against the media in general.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Once anyone suggests Crane Kenney is sticking his nose back into baseball decisions, it turns my stomach too.
    I hope it's just another Wittenmyer zeppelin (zeppelin=full of hot air and goes nowhere fast).

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Yeah, I don't think Ricketts is that stupid. I didn't read his article but hopefully Wittenmeyer just asked Crane for his opinion and then when he quoted it, implied that it had some significance....

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I never think of Crane when my mind suggests the possibility that maybe a craniotomy would fix his lack of baseball I Q.

    I expect Theo to do what needs to be done,but maybe not on my schedule. It has to be a short list of mgr. candidates. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the possibility that Dave Martinez would be a bad hire based on his off the field exploits when playing here. I also don't think he'll be a future addition to the Phillies coaching staff either.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed on all counts.

  • Great stuff, John. I really appreciate your insights. As I look at the progress that the whole Cubs organization has made over the past few years I can't help but be excited for the potential for maintaining long term success throughout the organization.

    While it was exciting to look to the new season, after a string of high profile names were added to the big club, it provided no structure for continued success. This approach may have been more painful to watch, from the point of view of the results of the big club, it brings with it a sense of hope for the future that I don't remember the Cubs ever being able to establish and sustain before.

    I am excited to see not only the big names that are working their way through the system, but the depth at most all positions that the Cubs have now built. It almost makes me wonder, why it took them so long to realize that the development of the whole system was essential in building a lasting foundation.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    Thanks supercapo. I wonder that myself sometimes. The Cubs have had some fits and starts with their form (most notably Dallas Green and early McPhail/Hendry) but neither saw it through -- though many would blame ownership on both counts, so it goes full circle.

  • “He has supported a rebuild from the bottom up that has yet to surface at the MLB level”

    Tom Ricketts slowly cut the major league payroll down to $110Million-ish, to use the “saved” $20-35Million on debt service payments, therefore forcing/”influencing” the “rebuild”. Anything else is just "spin".

    Hopefully the JumboTron and other ads go up so that Theo&Co can get that $20-35M back annually in the short term (renovation revenues are projected to add at least $100M/year when ALL is complete).

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    In reply to CubFan Paul:

    To the extent that the Tribune budgets were feasible, they were feasible only because they also owned WGN and so advertising revenue went back to the parent company.

    It has always struck me as incredible that people look on those budgets as reasonable when the Trib has gone bankrupt due to poor financial decisions.

    Also, it was the Tribune that forced this financial straightjacket on the Ricketts. This goes beyond your post here, but the attacks on the Ricketts for being cheap ignore those critical points.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    I'd say that's your spin.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No spin, all fact John. None of that was my opinion, but fact. I didn't pull those numbers out of thin air.

    I'm sorry the facts of the organization don't jive with your piece.

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    In reply to CubFan Paul:

    One of the first things you learn in grad school is that which facts someone thinks are relevant is very much a matter of opinion.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I have a college education too. A fact is still a fact regardless.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    What you have are dollar figures, you have zero direct knowledge as to how those dollars are actually allocated by the Cubs. And I'm afraid that is the only part that really matters here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Investigative Reporting by reputable people gives me more than zero knowledge, but If that's how you want to spin the rebuild to your readers John, fine. I just thought you had more integrity than that.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    Ahh, an attack on my integrity. Don't expect me to sink to that level or to justify that ham-handed remark. I'll let it stand on it's own for what it's worth.

    What you have are raw figures, what you don't have is knowledge on the Cubs accounting procedures or how those financial resources are allocated and neither do "reputable" reporters. For you to claim otherwise is preposterous and without that knowledge, all you have is your spin (or one you borrowed from reporters you consider reputable) on how those dollars are used. It's not your facts that I find lacking, it's your interpretation and analysis. It's speculative and it will take more than that to sway me.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    Here's a fact: Over the years, John has shown more integrity in this site than any come-lately "insider knowledge" sniper. He is not quick to blame nor judge, which is more than one can say of your posts today.
    Here's another fact: You can start your own Cubs blog and be the first with all your facts, special insight, and integrity. Good luck there!

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    In reply to CubFan Paul:

    You're missing my point. There are more facts out there than anyone can properly use. In order to make a point, you have to select a small subsample of facts.

    I'll stick with economics because it's what I know best. Simply go on the Internet, and you have enough data points to keep several government supercomputers running for years. The trick isn't finding facts, it's arguing why the facts you've selected are appropriate and representative of the entire picture you're trying to paint. That is very difficult and often occupies 20-50% of a paper. There are several different ways to do that but, in the end, it comes down to a matter of opinion on which facts are relevant and, perhaps more importantly, why other facts are unimportant.

    Simply throwing out facts won't save you if your argument doesn't make good use of those facts.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    Facts can be used however you want. It's how you use them that makes it spin. And I have some off the record facts here that I cannot use. I'm sorry but I take more stock in what I know than your knowledge of the Cubs accounting procedures and how they allocate their resources. No offense but very few people are privy to that and I'll go out on a limb that neither you nor I are one of them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sure John. Thanks for the belittlement.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    Grow up. This isn't a referendum on your importance or lack thereof.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    Why is that belittling? I included myself in that lack of knowledge of Cubs accounting procedures and people who are privy to how Cubs use their financial resources. I'm sorry you took it that way but it seems to me that if I belittled you I also belittled myself.

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    In reply to CubFan Paul:

    The only "fact" that you may have shared here is that the major league payroll went down. Everything else you shared is merely an opinion and therefore defined as a "spin."

    Have a nice off-season

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    If you go against the grain, the "most polite website" will smash you.

  • In reply to giamby:

    Let's be clear here. He drew a negative response because of the manner in which he posted things. Not his opinion itself. In case you haven't been paying attention, people disagree and agree all the time.

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    In reply to giamby:

    Exactly. This is not the site to 1. You can't criticize Rickets for lack of spending 2. When in doubt, believe in Theo. If you stay away from those 2 hot topics, this is the best, most informative cubs blog around w some of the most knowledgeable and intelligent cubs fans around.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    One's opinion is only cool if it agrees with the collective.

  • In reply to giamby:

    Or for some people, it's only cool if it runs counter to popular opinion. We have done both here, so that makes us doubly cool.

  • In reply to giamby:

    No disrespect to Locutis or the rest of the collective, but I've been on the short end of the stick before.

  • In reply to giamby:

    So this is a personal grievance. What I will say is this, any entity, whether it's a blog or the borg, has a particular culture and if you want to run counterculture that's fine, but then you can expect some sort of backlash or disagreement. It's just the way the world is, so you have to deal with that.

    And the more important thing here is this. It is not that he disagreed, it is how he did it. If you think people aren't always disagreeing on this site, then I'm not sure you've been paying attention -- but if you want to get respect for your opinion, you have to show respect for the other person too. The world, in general, works that way as well. I don't think that's too much to ask, is it?

  • In reply to giamby:

    One's opinion doesn't have to be "cool". If that's your motivation, you are on a path to futility.
    Correspondingly, one's opinion bears more weight if one acts in a mature, constructive manner. Attacking the integrity and fairness of the blog creator and article author -- just because he points out the baseless nature of your gauntlet -- is not a sign of maturity from you or cubfanpaul.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    Rather than quote simply major league payroll as evidence for Ricketts' frugality, I would love to see someone compare the overall baseball budgets from the Tribune and Ricketts' eras, including minor league expenses, international expenses, and the scouting department. Also add in the cost of the new spring training facility Ricketts is building. Only when I see those comparisons will I accept any claim that Ricketts is not spending on the baseball side.

    Any conclusions drawn without any such overall comparisons are in my opinion also "spin".

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I have said much the same many times. Ricketts has spent a ton of money, just not all on the major lg payroll. Heck, he allowed Theoyer to eat Zambo's money, eat Byrd's money and then spend $39 mil on a couple of Cuban kids he had probably never even heard of before.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    “He has supported a rebuild from the bottom up that has yet to surface at the MLB level” [John's opinion. Not stated as a fact. Pretty sure this entire site is pretty well established as editorial in nature.]

    Tom Ricketts slowly cut the major league payroll down to $110Million-ish [fact], to use the “saved” $20-35Million on debt service payments [if you have the financials to prove this then its fact, if not then it is your opinion. MLB payroll is not the only spending a MLB team does. The team has significantly increased spending in the FO/Scouting/Draft/Internationl FA markets.], therefore forcing/”influencing” the “rebuild”[your spin. My spin: They have also invested heavily in stadium infrastructure in the DR, Mesa and Wrigley. Could all of these seemingly necessary improvements (along with the FO/scouting overhaul) have had some "influence" on the need to divert resources from the MLB payroll as opposed to a single-minded view that he took money away only to pay down debt?]
    . Anything else is just "spin". [My spin: Everything is spin, nothing is black and white]

    Hopefully the JumboTron and other ads go up so that Theo&Co can get that $20-35M back annually in the short term (renovation revenues are projected to add at least $100M/year when ALL is complete). [I trust your figures are factiual, but even so MLB payroll is not the only money being spent, so maybe some of the resources they have chosen to spend on DR or Mesa compexes or amateur markets could be redirected to bump the payroll back up without waiting for the Wrigley revenue. That is a choice they could make, but are apparently feel are worthwhile that aren't simply to pay down debt]

  • This may be slightly off topic. But can anyone tell me what evidence we have that Girardi is good at developing young talent?

    I'm not saying he isn't, but I guess I don't remember his short tenure in Florida well enough to ease that concern.

    It seems like everyone is getting excited over this hire without regard to the problem that lead to Sveum's firing in the first place.

  • In reply to MrBillySir:

    I don't think there is good evidence on the surface -- I agree. I think that's something the Cubs will have to research, evaluate, and ultimately make a judgment on one way or the other.

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    This link gives you the perspective from NY

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    Well put, John! I like Girardi but ultimately the Cubs have to hire a manager that most fits their philosophy.

  • Thanks.

  • John, thanks for the article and the affirmation that Ricketts gives Theo full controll over the baseball side.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Thanks Norway. Appreciate that.

  • We can talk about facts all day and there are always facts to some extent to support an argument. Regardless of what facts you use, if Ricketts chose to take some of the payroll dollars and pay down the debt incurred by purchasing the team, that is his choice. He took the risk, he has all of the financial exposure. He can do what he wants. The positive out of this is that he has chosen a strategy that will not only benefit him in the short run but also the team in the long run. As a fan, I wish the team had done this years before but they chose to "compete" every year with compete being a loose term. They have a plan and are sticking to it.

    One thing to note about Ricketts is that when he bought the team, he never said that he was going to ratchet up the spending. I think all of us could see at the time where the team was headed with that philosophy. The guy has been very candid about his vision for the team and he has put out a plan. Has everything worked according to plan? No, but at least when he has hit roadblocks, he doesn't sacrifice the plan. He pays his management team to find out creative ways around the roadblocks without compromising his vision. Those that are frustrated now just have to extend their view.

  • In reply to joparks:

    Good points. As far as his spending, I remember only that he would say, if needed, they would have the highest payroll in the division when the Cubs were ready to compete.

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    Apparently, Brian Cashman is meeting with Girardi's agent tomorrow. I suppose we'll know more in the coming days.

  • Cubs payroll
    2013: $106,837,810
    2012: $109,316,000
    2011: $134,004,000
    2010: $144,359,000
    2009: $134,809,000
    2008: $118,345,833
    2007: $ 99,670,332
    2006: $ 94,424,499
    2005: $ 87,032,933
    2004: $ 90,560,000
    2003: $ 79,868,333
    2002: $ 75,690,833
    2001: $ 64,715,833
    2000: $ 62,100,000

    Add around an additional $20 million from 2000 to 2007 for CPI adjustment. 2007 its an additional $10million and by 2010 additional $7 million.

  • In reply to ucandoit:

    The Cubs major league payroll was 90 million dollars this past season.

  • It wasn't that long ago that the LA Dodgers were on the verge of bankruptcy and being taken over by MLB. Now they and their payroll are headed to the playoffs. The difference between then and now is a new ownership group and a new TV deal. While SportsNet L.A., the new Dodger network, is still six months away from launching, the Dodgers were able to start spending, in advance of receiving this TV revenue, because they knew what the money would be.

    The Cubs don't yet know what their TV and renovations revenue will be. Once they do, however, they will certainly reinvest it in their business, rather than pay taxes on it. Ricketts has a reputation for being slow and methodical, so it's fair to criticize him for that, I guess, especially in comparison to the Dodgers ownership group. However, I don't think it's fair to criticize him for being cheap. He's playing the hand he drew.

  • In reply to Cleme:

    Good points.

  • I went to buy a new car today, and I found a rather dull looking fuel guzzler for $50,000. I paid the price because I like to spend my resources on lost causes.

    I read some of these posters here and I can't figure you out. You want Ricketts to spend $millions on some free agents that duplicate the process Jim Hendry tied around the neck of the franchise, when the last noose was just relieved, though not completely paid for, with the trade of Soriano. Now we have inherited a slightly less cumbersome noose in Edwin Jackson. How is it working for you? You want to go out and hire Pujols, Hamilton? Will that entice you to buy season tickets? Will the seat be filled every game or sit empty as the camera pans the seats?

    You want World Series, yet you have a fall-back to the same process that bit you in the butt! The $millions spent during a time where it doesn't pay off, the results are the same except a slightly better record, result in money wasted which by the way, does not belong to you, as I doubt you are the financial underpinning of the organization, and you lose a better draft pick, and those resources may not be there when you have an opportunity to buy into a 24 year old no. 1 type pitcher, such as Tanaka!

    Cubs management went after Anabal Sanchez first, because they deemed him the most viable option and impact player. They settled for a second choice that hasn't worked out as well. They will go after Tanaka, because they view him a long term viable piece to success. As John points out, the Cubs have built a very good farm system, though lacking in impact arms, the position players are quite interesting. Some articles have said the Cubs farm system is building a monopoly on power; Bryant, Baez, Soler, Jiminez, Vogelbach, etc. That might be a slight exaggeration, but does not belie the truth. None of the farm team has stalled out as of yet. None have reached their ceilings and flamed out. There is real hope and a real plan for the future. Perhaps an ounce of patience would serve you urbanites well? I think it could be legitimate that there could be 8 or 9 prosptects in the top 100, or near misses, such as Vizcaino. I think that some surplus and many viable postion options may be used in the near future to bring a Bradley or Taillon to Chicago to boost the young pitching corps. The Cubs big problem is finding a #1 and #2. Can Samardzija be a 1 or 2? I am not sure. But I wouldn't sign him to a big contract in lieu of going after Tanaka. I hate to say this, but keep your fingers crossed for Arodys Vizcaino. If Johnson, Samardzija or others can fill #3 and beyond then the some pitching issues might be resolved. John would know better than me.

    Pittsburg with new management and focus on the minor leagues talent did it. TB does it every year. The Cubs will soon follow.

    2015 Competitive
    2016 ?

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Thank you. It's wild how many fans want to fall back onto the same old stuff that hasn't worked already Here's the only fact that matters: the Cubs needed a system-wide rebuild. They are definitely spending.

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    That was a great post. I am serious about that, but surely your right and there are some cubs fans that want Tommy Ricketts to spend just to spend.

    While maybe the minority, (although I believe the majority) want the team to go after free agents that they feel are going to pay dividends on the field throughout the life of the contract and are young enough that will still be productive when the team is where they expect it to be. Usually you can't fill all the holes one off season the yr before they deem they are ready to go for it. You have to be more methodical, and add quality every year. They are doing ( hopefully) thru the draft and some shrewd trades, and some bargain basement free agent deals ( not edwin) and that may be enough but a lot of us think that a team w this revenue and following should and could be doing more especially w a brilliant GM.

    I don't want to get into a long drawn out argument but if they felt that Anibal Sanchez was the best fit player available last off season for their future, then they should have went an extra yr or extra money. Sure it's easy to monday morning QB, as everyone here would rather have Anibal over Edwin even if it meant 5 million more a yr. The point is you hired this GM and he brought his crew in, and supposedly they know how to evaluate talent so why not let them get the guy they wanted rather then settle ?

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    I read Dimwittenmeir's column this morning and went off on a rant on your previous blog and thought "better not" before hitting the comment button considering it was written by Dimwittenmeir. The column about "who would really want this job" in todays Sun-Times was more my speed.

    Jeez, why don't they just give the job to Dave McKay?

  • There's not enough information yet to know what kind of owner Ricketts is, but I hope time bears out your characteristic optimism. I'm probably 65/35 he's doing it right, but that that 35 where he's doing it cheap and making it look like right, scares me.

  • Wittenmeyer is officially in "damned if you do damned if you don't" territory with the Cubs. If the Cubs had kept Sveum and Girardi had become available in a month Wittenmeyer would write an article about how the Cubs screwed up by not going after him

  • In reply to jorel1114:

    It's not all Wittenmeyer's fault. His newspaper wants him to piss fans off and cause controversy. It sells more papers. You have to kinda parse out the trolling aspect from the facts.

  • Good article, John. I love going too this site to get a perspective that gives an even-handed approach. I'm a former journalist and its rare that that approach still exists. I may disagree with you at times but mostly I think you're spot on. I think Ricketts has to be applauded for taking the long view - that if the cubs are to succeed you have to build from the bottom up. I'm not sure about Theo and Company in terms of whether they interfere with some aspects of major league management or not but I do give them credit for rebuilding the farm system and concentrating on player development.

  • Anyone can disagree with John on this site without fear of "belittling" and I think most of us know that. What I think actually was said, "If John disagrees with ME, he is 'belittling' me!" Nonsense.

    I have seen not one thing from ownership that tells me we have a cheap owner. Every business that is worth its salt builds its organization through competency at every level and that's exactly what we are being shown each and every day with Ricketts. We have to have a bigger "eye" than today in order to have a firm tomorrow.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    "What I think actually was said, "If John disagrees with ME, he is 'belittling' me!""

    You shouldn't assume. I don't care if someone disagrees me. I didn't like John's tone. That's why I said thanks for the belittlement.

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    "Narcissism will drown in the pool of its own self-enchantment."

  • In reply to CubFan Paul:

    And you shouldn't assume John's tone was one of belittlement. John does not belittle people - there's a fact for your "facts-based" consciousness.

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