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Friday

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September 2013

38

COMMENTS

Racks on Racks on Racks? The Cubs Financial Sitch

Written by , Posted in General

We heard from two of the Cubs’ leaders this week in regard to the team’s financial situation….well, it doesn’t sound too rosy. On Sunday, Theo Epstein gave an interview to WSCR in Chicago and, among many other things, gave his thoughts about the team’s ability to spend on free agents:

“We simply don’t have the payroll flexibility that we would need for a quicker talent infusion given some of the limitations and timing of our business plan and the realities of a lot of circumstances surrounding the ball club right now.”

That sounds bad, doesn’t it? Obviously, we don’t know just how much this is a bit of posturing to put pressure on the stakeholders involved in the renovation discussions – or how much is a hedge in case 2014 is as long a season as it appears it will be. Given the popularity of the Cubs – and how valuable the franchise is overall – it may seem obvious that the Cubs could have a top-end payroll if they wanted it.

Well, things may not be so bad. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts spoke to Gordon Wittenmyer on Wednesday, and he said that the long-term rebuilding strategy, not money, is the main reason that the Cubs won’t be going after high-priced free agents this winter. From the Wittenmyer piece:

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

Despite these quotes from the front office (or perhaps because of them) we still don’t really have a clear picture of the team’s finances. For me, it actually doesn’t matter at this point, and here’s why: spending big on free agents this off-season isn’t going to do anything for the long-term development of this team into a consistent winner. First, I don’t see any young, big-time free agents becoming available this off-season that would really be the kind of player that could help turn a franchise around. Second, the timing isn’t right: it would be better to sign a major free agent or two to compliment the young “core” (whatever that winds-up being) so that the team is ready to compete top-to-bottom when they’re ready – we’re not there yet. Third, and this is a secondary concern, I don’t want to block any up-and-coming prospects before they have a chance to show what they can do in the big leagues.

The one free agent I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs pursue (in fact, I would love it) is Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka is considered by most scouts to be the best Japanese pitching prospect since Yu Darvish, and he has top-of-the-rotation potential (some have said he may have the best splitter on the planet). He’s only 24, so Tanaka would fit the mold of a player who could be in his prime when the Cubs young “core” is ready for the bigs. I’d love to see the Cubs go all in on him (and if they don’t win the bid…please, please don’t let it be the Dodgers!).  John Arguello over at Cubs Den seems to think that the Cubs will be in on Tanaka, so we’ll see.

OK, Cubs fans, I have a question for you. All of us that read, and especially post (and especially write articles!), for Cubs blogs are obviously die hard fans who have stuck – and will stick – with this team through the tough times. However, even Job had a limit, so the question is this: when, if ever, will you throw your hands in the air and stop caring about this team? I’m not asking if any of you would ever stop being fans of the Cubs (I doubt any of you would say that), but will there come a time when you’re just going to refuse to put in any emotional investment? I know that I haven’t been watching all the games lately. My classes have started back, so I’m busier than I was most of the summer, but I’ve also grown a little weary. Moreover, I’ll have to admit that even though I root for the Cubs to win every game I watch, I’m actually hoping that they lose when I don’t watch. I want the better draft pick next summer (although I always hope that Castro and Rizzo have good games). So, when will it be for you? Middle of next season? 2015? Will you ever stop checking Cubs blogs or keeping up with the farm system? I’d love to hear what you think.

  • BatDan

    I have only gone to one game this year, during the last four seasons I have attended roughly 25 games (I live three hours away). It’s tough to watch, and reading about potential prospects can get old. I will always be a fan, but if they are this bad next year (which it appears they will) then I probably won’t go to any games. Third highest ticket prices in the majors for a team that is one of the three worst teams in all of MLB, I just can’t justify that. I mean let’s be real, most of us tuned out after the trade deadline.

  • Doug S.

    The immediate answer is never, but let’s be real. It would take a lot more than I’ve experienced to check out on the Cubs. Right now I like where I believe the team is heading and I plan to be there for the ride.

    • Sean Powell

      I’m with you there. Whenever snarky Cardinals fans mention all their championships, I reply “you root for a team TO win, not BECAUSE they win.” It is getting harder to following every at-bat every day, though.

    • Jedi

      I’m personally looking forward to November – or as I’ve come to know it: that month on the calendar when Cub fans inexplicably restart the clock on Theo’s competitive time horizon.

  • PLCB3

    Nice job with the Disney Dollar photos. No longer printed, but still accepted

    • Sean Powell

      It’s amazing that you know that.

      • PLCB3

        If you were around here last year, I would commend you on the sarcasm job. But since you weren’t, I worked at Disney World last year

      • Sean Powell

        No sarcasm!

      • PLCB3

        Well now you know. 10 Disney Dollars works just like 10 US Dollars. Still accepted though. So feel free to use your Disney Dollars next time you go.

      • Mickey Rat

        And we are all better off.

      • Jedi

        I have a feeling it’s only the same thing at certain Disneyfied establishments…and maybe that Waffle House museum.

      • Sean Powell

        No sarcasm!

      • AC0000000

        Well now you know. 10 Disney Dollars works just like 10 US Dollars. Still accepted though. So feel free to use your Disney Dollars next time you go.

      • Mickey Rat

        And we are all better off.

  • PLCB3

    The Cubs are fine financially. Ricketts was willing and able to pay more cash than he did. The debt can’t be paid down until 2018, the 10 year anniversary of Sam Zell taking the Tribune Corporation from a publically traded company to an S-Corp. Tom Tunney is the reason the renovation deal is being held up, now the rooftop owners are holding things up. I hope they enjoy their views being blocked in 10 years. Stupid Tribune Co., why didn’t they just buy the rooftops out during the pissing match?

    • You may as well jam something about Dusty Baker into this rant and kill two birds with one stone.

      • PLCB3

        Dusty is too busy watching games to see that his 4 year old son is about to get run over at home plate, figuring out what to tell the media why taking walks is bad, but giving them up is also bad, why walks clog the bases for guys who can run, but singles don’t, and how to get 500 at-bats for Neifi Perez to be part of this

  • AC0000000

    The Cubs are fine financially. Ricketts was willing and able to pay more cash than he did. The debt can’t be paid down until 2018, the 10 year anniversary of Sam Zell taking the Tribune Corporation from a publically traded company to an S-Corp. Tom Tunney is the reason the renovation deal is being held up, now the rooftop owners are holding things up. I hope they enjoy their views being blocked in 10 years. Stupid Tribune Co., why didn’t they just buy the rooftops out during the pissing match?

    • You may as well jam something about Dusty Baker into this rant and kill two birds with one stone.

      • AC0000000

        Dusty is too busy watching games to see that his 4 year old son is about to get run over at home plate, figuring out what to tell the media why taking walks is bad, but giving them up is also bad, why walks clog the bases for guys who can run, but singles don’t, and how to get 500 at-bats for Neifi Perez to be part of this

  • Doc Raker

    Greetings from Bean Town. It is good to see the Pirates have secured its first winning season in 19 years. As long as they don’t sing ‘We are Family’ from the top of the dugout I am happy for them. It is good to see the Yankee’s blowing leads like any respectable Rothchild pitching staff does, 2 nights in a row the Yanks blew a lead to the Red Sox. I had lunch today at Fenway pArk, pretty cool pArk. The people in this town talk funny.

    • PLCB3

      Are you actually in Boston right now, Doc? The Sawks are on the road, next Friday they will be in town. Meet me at Game On tomorrow for the Ohio State game at 330PM.

      • Doc Raker

        My son is playing hockey here. Where is Game On? Playing hockey in Lynn at 2PM.

      • PLCB3

        You really are here in Boston. Game On is at Fenway Park. The OSU games are in the basement of the bar. Joe can you give us each others emails?

      • Doc Raker

        We were at Fenway yesterday. We played hockey in Cambridge and Newton. Today West Roxbury and Lynn. Crazy driving in this town, hard to find you way. I doubt we will make it. If Joe has my cell he can give it to you, I won’t be checking any email once I leave here.

      • PLCB3

        Do you have GPS? I use it everywhere I go here. But when I go into the city on the weekends, I usually just drive to a train station and take the T.

      • AC0000000

        Do you have GPS? I use it everywhere I go here. But when I go into the city on the weekends, I usually just drive to a train station and take the T.

    • Sherm

      Go to Skipjacks in the Back Bay – had dinner there last week, and it was very good.

      • Doc Raker

        You in Boston Sherm?

      • Doc Raker

        You in Boston Sherm?

  • Eugene Debs

    I have started to lose interest somewhat, but I’ll always love the Cubs. I think some money needs to be spent. Nothing crazy, but the absolute garbage pickups have to stop. Looks like a weak crop again, but Cody Ransom? Darnell McDonald? Yikes.

  • Tommy

    This is the first time I’ve logged on to VFTB this year. Does that give you a clue? And I was one of the major writers here some years back. Truthfully I haven’t had much interest for the last 2-3 years for this team. I’m now 55. I was a staunch follower for 40 years, good times and bad. But I’m feeling older these days, and tired.

    • mastrick

      I know the feeling Tommy, I’ve got better things to do than waste time watching a bad ballclub.

      • jteezy

        hey mastrick whats up good ol buddy this is jteezy from the good ol EFnet days! Go CUbs GO

  • mastrick

    Tightwad Tom making more excuses as to why the Cubs can’t put even a mediocre team on the field while they rebuild. Hey I’ve got an idea, why not go from 14th highest payroll to 8th highest and get some more butts in the seats with a team that wins one out of every two games? But that would cost money and that’s something our 21st century PK Wrigley isn’t willing to part with.

    • PLCB3

      The Tribune Co. did that 7 years ago, the wild half-billion dollar spending spree. It got us into our current state. Theo wants to do this right, and that will require sinking a few seasons to do it.

      • mastrick

        Respectfully I can’t agree with you there – the spending didn’t “cause” their current state. We are not talking about a team that was on the precipice of going bankrupt, we are talking about a team that wasn’t winning enough. Teams like the Yankees, Bosox and Angels spend every year and compete every year; the teams that win but don’t spend are few and far between.

      • PLCB3

        I didn’t mean financially. But it did cause our current state of affairs on the baseball side. The different with the Yankees Red Sox and Angels is they had a constant pipeline of talent from the minors. We don’t. No amount of money is going to fix the years of neglect on the farm system.