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Without any games – playoffs, World Series or otherwise – I’m going to have to figure out what this little intro section to the daily bullets is going to become. The bullets were a new feature in Spring Training this year, so I’ve not yet done them when there was no baseball at all. Well, at least I figured out what to do for today…

  • Ryan Dempster, who will return to the Cubs next year for $14 million, has value beyond what he does on the pitching mound. He’s a leader, a good clubhouse presence, and a friend to many. I’m not one for espousing the value of “intangibles,” but I do believe having good leaders in the clubhouse can be of a value difficult to quantify, particularly on a team expected to get a bit younger. And, frankly, I like Ryan Dempster, and enjoy cheering for him. That’s part of the reason we are fans of the Cubs, right? Because we like the players? Otherwise, you’re just cheering for laundry.
  • Other baseball executives expect the Theo Epstein regime to push for a number of significant changes around Wrigley Field to improve the Cubs’ revenue streams (which improves the product on the field, over time), including … gulp … the removal of “the old scoreboard.” A GM familiar with Epstein said, “I wouldn’t look for that old scoreboard to be sitting on top of the center-field bleachers for many more years. There’s $20 million [a year] sitting up there if they put up a giant Jumbotron. I know people are attached to tradition, to that scoreboard, but is taking it down any bigger change than putting seats on top of the Green Monster? [Ed. - yes.] People in Boston went nuts when they were talking about closing off Yawkey Way. But now it’s a part of Fenway Park. Everybody enjoys it and the Red Sox make so much money from those things. It helps the team compete.” The jumbotron issue has been on the table for years, and the operative question is: would you rather the Cubs kept the old scoreboard, or added (for example) Prince Fielder (I’m imagining $20 million per year added to payroll) to the roster? I can see a strong answer on either side.
  • UPDATE: Paul Sullivan just tweeted – I can only assume in response to this post (because the original article is 20 hours old) – that, “No, Theo is not going to touch the Wrigley scoreboard. It’s an official landmark and can not be changed.” I responded with two thoughts: (1) Landmark status is politically granted, and can be changed if the right levers are pulled (isn’t the whole ballpark a landmark? How exactly were they planning on “renovating” if a landmark cannot be changed?), and (2) Sullivan might want to check with his colleague, Phil Rogers, who wrote the original article.
  • Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein comes in for a quote in the same article on the Cubs’ revamped front office. “I find it hard to see any scenario in which the Cubs end up in better hands,” Goldstein said. “Theo was their primary target from the day Jim Hendry was fired, and they landed him. One of the things that appealed to Ricketts so much about Theo was his model, where he builds a large front office filled with smart people …. [Theo]‘s a very talented general manager, but not a miracle worker, and while 2012 should certainly fall under rebuilding, they could compete as early as 2013, and compete is all you can project for any team.”
  • Speaking of the front office, sources say the Cubs are targeting long-time Arizona Diamondback scout, Joe Bohringer, as the team’s new pro scouting coordinator. Bohringer, a 1993 MIT grad, aligns nicely with the Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod school of thought on scouting – namely, that you use a blend of statistics and visual scouting, with more of the latter for younger players, and more of the former for advanced players.
  • MLB and MLB.com are presenting some awards called the GIBBYs (Greatness in Baseball Yearly), which is not unusual. But, um, here are two of the categories for which Cubs players are nominated: Ryan Dempster picks up a nod for his Harry Caray impression (which is actually an impression of Will Ferrell doing an impression of Harry Caray) in the “Oddity” category, and Starlin Castro is nominated for “Wow Factor.” There are normal categories, too, and you can vote at that Gibbys link.
  • A high level sabermetric review of the Chicago Cubs, and the possible impact of the Epstein/Hoyer regime. In short, sabermetrics tell us something we already know: the 2011 Cubs were bad.
  • The Cubs are facing the Tax Man – Cook County is auditing the Cubs over its amusement tax payments over the past several years. The White Sox and Bears are also facing audits.
  • Carrie Muskat offers a round-up of Cubs’ prospects playing in Winter Ball all over North America (the ones you’re not hearing much about), including Steve Clevenger, Blake Parker, Marwin Gonzalez, John Gaub, and Scott Maine.
  • Cubs’ prospect Josh Vitters is playing all over the field in the Arizona Fall League, but Farm Director Oneri Fleita says that’s just so he can get at bats. “He will play third base in 2012,” Fleita confirmed recently. The Cubs are hoping Vitters can, within the next two years, establish himself as the long-term replacement at third base for Aramis Ramirez, but neither his bat nor his defense have been where they need to be. Drafted as a 17-year-old, it’s easy to forget how young Vitters is, since he’s been in the Cubs’ system for so long. He just turned 22 a month and a half ago. There’s time.
  • For his part, Vitters knows what he needs to work on, and, on the offensive side, that’s being more patient. While Vitters doesn’t strike out much, he frequently gets himself out on a pitch out of the zone. Says Vitters, “I’m an aggressive hitter, and I always have been. I’m just trying to make sure it’s my pitch I’m swinging at — not the pitcher’s pitch.”
  • Dave

    I doubt they remove the scoreboard. I can see a Jumbotron above the right field bleachers, but not over center.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That would make for an interesting fight with the rooftop owners on that side of the park now that the Cubs have formalized their relationship with those owners (Cubs get 17% of their revenue, I believe).

      • Dave

        Unless the rooftop bleacher owners bring in over $85 million, the Cubs probably come out ahead on the Jumbotron.

        • hansman1982

          I think Ricketts and Co will quietly buy up the rooftop owners over the next 5-10 years then they can do what they want rather than having to deal with a group that they don’t particularly care for

      • pfk

        Buying out the deal with those people across the street would be a no brainer. The amount of money they get for 81 home games is a pittance, especially when you see them totally empty half the time. If the Cubs were to give each owner $1-2M, they would take it in a heartbeat. The amount of money from 1 year of the Jumbotron would pay for a buyout.

  • Moms A Cubs Fan

    Isn’t the scoreboard part of the “Landmark Status” of Wrigley? I thought they can’t change or remove it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Adding an update on that in the post.

  • Diego

    The old scoreboard is a tough decision. I guess they should do what’s best for the team…but god I love that scoreboard!

  • BFM

    I don’t see the scoreboard leaving……it would be like taking down the green monster in Fenway. I do see a jumbotron being installed in left in place of the Toyota sign. The rooftop owners pay 17% to the Cubs but don’t really have a right to dictate what the Cubs to improve Wrigley. Besides, the owner of the “Budweiser house” (or whatever new advertising is on the roof this year), doesn’t pay what everyone else pays……which is why there is a Toyota sign…..to by that rationale, put the Jumbotron there and completely block him out!

  • Moms A Cubs Fan

    I like the scoreboard too and agree they need to do what is best for the team.

  • Hcs

    I think that we all know that Wrigley needs work, but certain things ought to be off-limits. Admittedly those things should be limited to the scoreboard, the ivy, and the marquee out front.

    Also, Aaron Miles? Really?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Look at what it says about him. It made me smile.

      • hcs

        Now it all makes sense.  Gotta get my eyes checked.

  • Cliffy

    I have been doing some research of the first 5 years of Theo Epstein as GM of the Boston Red Sox. I guess that looking in the rear view mirror might show us what could lay ahead.

    He has in the past he has done a high frequency of trades. Some of them biggies but more of them were small as in add a piece to the puzzle trades. For examples 12 trades in 2005. That does not include waiver claims.

    In the past his favorite trading partners have been San Diego, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. Just a hunch but look at these teams as likely matchups in the future.

    Check out Edison Rincon on San Diego, 21 year old 3B player high OBP best infield arm in the system. He could be a player that Theo sees as a future fit for the Cubs.

    Just spitballing here, I think Theo continues with the high number of trades. He will get rid of the deadwood on current roster. K. Hill, John Grabow, Rodrigo Lopez, Ramon Ortiz, Blake DeWitt, Casey Coleman. Next try to trade Zambrano, Soriano and Byrd. He will trim down some non-achievers from the forty man roster and look to pick up a number of there off the waiver wire.

    Sorry for the long post but I have never been as excited as a Cub fan and I look forward to Theo putting his stamp on the Cubs. In Theo-I-Believeo.

    • SweetJamesJones

      “In Theo-I-Believeo.”

      This. I like.

    • TC

      Good stuff. The one thing I don’t agree with though is the designation of Dewitt and coleman as “deadwood”. They’ll be 26&25 next year, respectively, and could both have significant value going forward.

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        yeah were in the same boat.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    Nice to hear that Josh Vitters has some self awareness here. I have been a tough critic to date, but like the saying goes….KNOWING is half the battle. I am hoping for the best for Josh, and look forward to seeing him get off to a good start this season. My prediction is he breaks camp with AA Tennessee and earns a AAA callup mid season.

  • Ian Afterbirth

    What about setting up a deal with the rooftop owners and putting the jumbotron across the street?

    • MontelleW

      I know you are just spitballing ideas, and brainstorming is always a good thing. I would think it would have to be a good size jumbotron for that to work and be cleanly viewable by all as it would sit outside of the stadium. That however begs the question of light pollution at night to our neighbors in wrigleyville. I realize we have more daygames than most team, but that’s still something to consider while being a good neighbor.

  • Jim Kress

    Wacky idea, you can hate if you want, but I always though it would be kinda cool if you connected the bleachers all the way out to the rooftops. Adding a BOAT load more seating, and it would make Waveland and Sheffield cool little shaded underpasses (which kinda adds to the whole Chicago feeling of being under the trains and what not, sorry if you don’t understand what I mean on that one). Anyway, its a wacky idea, but anyone have thoughts on that?
    Also, anyone think about trading for Matt Kemp? Guy is a free agent in 2013 and lets face it, with all the problems the Dodgers have financially they won’t be able to afford him. Not to mention how big of a hole he would fill in the much needed outfield position defensively, and adding that much needed power and speed offensively.
    Put Kemp in with a possible acquisition of Melky Cabrera…….I say go for it if you get the chance. No one wins by playing it safe, yes we need to boost the farm system, but if it were possible to somehow trade off our deadwood (Byrd, Soriano, Zambrano, Dempster, Marmol, Ramirez if he options to stay, Pena if resigned) for these two guys. MAJOR addition…….stranger things HAVE happened *cough* *cough* like the stupid cardinals winning the stupid world series *cough* *cough*….side note, anyone have a Ricola?

    • Jeff

      I was going to respond and tell you how cool I thought it would be to have a second level of bleachers in the outfield(not sure if there is room for the support structure out there), but then you went and mentioned the Cardinals, so all you get is a glass of shut the hell up.

      • Jim Kress

        Hey now, I’m a die hard Cub fan….I’m just saying getting Kemp and Cabrera isn’t as strange as the STUPID deadbirds and their current status. I lived in Southern Illinois for awhile, trust me, I was one of few cub fans, you have no idea how much I HATE the cardinals!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • MrCubs73

          To add insult to this Cardinals World Series victory, LaRussa has to say the true turning point was the 9th inning victory against the Cubs.

    • Ian Afterbirth

      I think the bleacher extension idea is great and that’s where you could put the jumbotron too.

      Hm.
      But then you couldn’t hit a homer out of the park….

      • MontelleW

        A homer against the deadbirds we all hate all good whether it lands among the fans or in the street behind! LOL Plus, I’d rather a fan that attended the game gets it rather than the vultures who stand outside with the giant gloves trying to catch them just to sell them on e-bay. We should however be looking at a ‘bartman restraint’ to prevent any future fan interferences from any angle in the future! LOL (JUST KIDDING, Steve!)

  • johnbres2

    Let Theo do what he wants.  We can learn to live without the old scoreboard.  I would rather he keep the troughs in the bathroom, as they think those are so much more efficient than any other setup and I love that Wrigley still has them (as does Notre Dame Stadium).  Clinging obsessively to the scoreboard reminds me of that scene in “The Jerk” when Steve Martin has been forced to leave his home, and he walks out saying, “all I need is this lamp”; :all I need is this book” etc, as he picks things up as he walks past them.  The point is, this whole thing is ultimately about the Cubs, and not Wrigley Field.  I like Wrigley (btw, the outfield walls are really the most important part of the image–along with representing the longest foul lines in baseball), but have no problem with changing it for the better, as it really is a dump in a lot of ways.  Do whatever it takes to improve the product on the field and make us a perennial competitor.

  • http://www.PolitiJim.com Jim B (@rightjb)

    In my opinion the scoreboard is one of those things

    On intangibles of Demp:
    I am convinced the 14 game swing and momentum the Cubs had in 2009 was due to DeRosa and Wood being let go and the acquisition of Bradley. My understanding is that if you were to pick ANY two Cubs besides DLee who meant the most to the camaraderie of the clubhouse it was those two guys. And Bradley was pure poison.

    It’s fine if the old group isn’t working to mess with chemistry. As long as you have a true leader with a winning attitude in the clubhouse. These guys aren’t robots and the Marlins, Rockies, successes of the past didn’t come from a Frankenstein build of stats – but a core group of guys that believed in each other and pushed each other to get better.

    Intangibles are NOT everything – but they are the “thumb on the scale” when weighing decisions.

  • http://www.PolitiJim.com Jim B (@rightjb)

    Whoops. Did finish the scoreboard sentence. Yeah – go ahead and change the scoreboard. And suffer the wrath of Cub fans everywhere!

    Prince Fielder for the scoreboard? Really? Sounds like you could have made the same decision for Soriano, ARam or others who haven’t delivered. $20 Mil is NOT a lot of cash. ‘d rather add a $1 to each ticket to save the scoreboard.

    • MontelleW

      Yep, you’re right…scoreboard is a tradition – and we can’t let go of traditions. We live for those traditions year in and year out…..like our 103 years of losing – whoa! what? oh yeah….Traditions arent everything! If it helps the team with more money for payroll or other improvements – let it be so. We still have ivy, we still have wrigley, we still have the marquis out front. But overall, I go to games to cheer for the cubs, not for their stadium. Otherwise I’d be wasting my time and money going to road games LOL

      • Alex

        Yes.. Thank you.

        Where is the “Like” button for this comment?

      • hansman1982

        Agree, I dont really understand the love of Wrigley – it is a great looking stadium and it is old but we haven’t won anything in there…if the Yankees can tear down “The House That Ruth Built” then the Cubs can tear down a scoreboard.

  • Andrew G.

    I am as big of a proponant of Wrigley Field and tradition as they come, but not at the expense of the product that gets put on the field. If changes to Wrigley were to improve the club, I don’t see the debate. The number one goal as a player and as a fan is to win. If tradition starts to impede on that, changes must be made.

    • MontelleW

      AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ACS

    A jumbotron in wrigley come on we already have lights. Dempster is a great cub that I will continue to pull for. Big z should be gone to much has happened. If you get kemp it will cost
    Prospects not current cubs. Sign Prince and move samardgia and mcnutt to starting rotation
    And cashner to pen.

  • CubsFanatic

    Tough call on the scoreboard. Even if it did get removed, I think we could live without it. But I do think its should be taken care of if removed. I’d rather have Pujols in the off season anyway if we can get him at $25M or so for 5 years.

  • Jon

    Taking down the old scoreboard and replacing it with a Jumbotron is not thinking outside of the box for a creative solution to a problem. I’m sure Theo’s team can devise a much better solution.

  • pfk

    Theo will figure out another way to install a Jumbotron besides taking down the scoreboard. There are a number of alternatives and I have no doubt we will have one (or several smaller ones) within a couple of years. Looking at the scoreboard from the plate you could put one to the left of it because there are no seats on the rooftop with the Budweiser sign. It might not be the biggest but it would be big enough. An architect/engineer who works for a firm that has done several stadiums told me that they could also do one that, catch this, would raise ABOVE the scoreboard on game days only. It would be on a track that raises and lowers it so its only visible for the 2-3 hours of a game.

  • Alex

    I cut the chord to my romantic Wrigley overtures a long time ago.

    If slapping more ads in the ballpark, a triangle building, a Jumbotron and game day Sheffield Av. festivals bring in the revenue that will help the Cubs bring a World Series title, I’m all for it.

    I’m tired of holding on the the memory of the 69 Cubs, Harry and Wrigley basically being the same ballpark that my dad and grandfather went to when they were kids. I would rather replace those with World Series memories.

    History will always be a big part of the Cubs tradition, but it’s time to build and embrace a new tradition of winning championships.

    • Jim

      Agree with you 100% Alex. I’ve been a Cub fan for 40+ years, I’m through with the sentimentality, I want to see this club contend consistently and win the World Series.

      Now if they replace the scoreboard, isn’t there some way to incorporate it into the current scoreboard or design it so it has the same feel as the scoreboard?

      • Alex

        Same here Jim..

        I think it would be great to keep the scoreboard design and incorporate the new technology.

        I was one of the loudest opponents when they tore down the Stadium and built the United Center. At the Stadium you were right on top of the action even from the 2nd balcony. The UC seats are no where near as close to the floor/ice. But I understood that change was needed in order to keep up with revenues.

        Same with Wrigley. But in reality, what traditions are we holding onto here? The Yankees (with a strong tradition and arguably the most hallowed ballpark in baseball) have 26 World Series titles and they built a NEW stadium with new revenue coming in. I’m not saying that the Cubs have to go that far, but I don’t have a problem with them creating new revenue streams.

    • hardtop

      we don’t need a top payroll to contend consistently: number 12 payroll just beat number 13 for the championship …and number 13 was there 2 years in a row.   nor do high payrolls mean a team is going to contend.  if nothing proves that more clearly than our past payroll rankings compared to our win loss record, i don’t know what does (number 6 finished 20 games under 500).  cubs make plenty of money to field a top 3 to 5 payroll team without the addition of a jumbo-tron.  they aren’t going to add 20 mil to the payroll, or not, just because of ad revenue.  they need to put a contender on the field and then their already awesome attendance will go up, and the money will be rolling in. its a cycle, that has nothing to do with a jumbo-tron.   i personally think the jumbo-tron takes away from the baseball experience… i hate them.  the one in Colorado doesnt really have advertisements anyway… those are littering every other inch of free space in the ballpark, but not the jumbo-tron.  typically, it is reserved for lineups, replays, batter/pitcher stats.  the occasional between inning cup-and-ball game and ridiculous fan interviews… nothing really revenue generating.  I’m against it because the tradition of Wrigley Field and its historic features are a significant part of the Cubs identity.  They aren’t just another team in another city, they themselves are a tradition: a Chicago tradition, a family tradition.  I for one wouldn’t see the point in winning anything if our tradition was sacrificed in the process.  I’m not just rooting for a winner, Im rooting for the Cubs to become a winner.

       

  • Seth Majewski

    Does the bottom of the scoreboard say “You gotta believe” Aaron Miles 0 for 1000

  • pfk

    Fast forward 40 years….the new owners are talking of replacing the Jumbotron….fans go crazy because they want their children’s children to see the Jumbotron they grew up with. Fathers tell their children that the walls,that have all the ads, used to be covered in ivy. The kids respond, “No, really? Was that before or after the 5 consecutive World Series titles from 2014 to 2019?”

  • Ron Swanson

    Replacing the scoreboard is NOT similar to adding seats to the green monster and the suggestion is simply lazy journalism. There are many options to explore first that would add the revenue streams from a jumbotron AND keep the scoreboard. Fortunately, Epstein is much smarter and creative than Phil Rodgers (who isn’t) and will find ways to have his cake and eat it too. THAT is what we can take from his days in Boston.

    • pfk

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Most Cub writers or Chicago sportswriters (except for a couple and our Brett) are lame and lazy. Phil Rodgers may lead the pack in that regard. I can’t believe there aren’t younger writers coming along who actually THINK before they write and understand the game of baseball. Seem alike once these guys get the job its impossible to get rid of them.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    I expect a bleacher skybox type of thing in the future with a resturant/bar. Maybe it can be called BleacherNation… Get on that Brett.

  • rocky8263

    Crane Kenney and T.R. is in charge of the scoreboard or any possible changes, not Theo.

  • Rob Samuelson

    Out of curiosity, would it be possible to renovate the scoreboard? I’m thinking they could digitize it but keep it structurally intact, like what producers did on Wheel of Fortune. We wouldn’t want the scorekeepers in there getting carpal tunnel like good ol’ Vanna White.

  • pfk

    I’m so tired of the Chicago writers and BN readers labeling the Cubs as a loser franchise as writers like Telander, Morrissey, Rosenbloom and others regularly do. The fact is only the Dodgers, Giants and Cards have won more National League pennants than the Cubs (16). From 1929 to 1938 the Cubs won the NL pennant every 3 years. They just didn’t do well in the World Series. Only the Giants (23), Cards (16) and Yankees (15) have more members in the Hall of Fame than the Cubs (14). The great Yankees only have one more player then our Cubs. Its time the writers learned some baseball history and stop being so lazy. It is so trendy to write the way they do.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Wonderfully stated pfk

      • SweetJamesJones

        Agreed.

        Its obvious they (the writers) over look the stats and continue to beat a dead horse.

        “BUT ITS SO EASY.”

        I call it laziness.

        Sad.

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      You just put a bunch of haters in there place.

  • pfk

    Why is it that the ONLY solution to the Jumbotron is taking down the scoreboard? They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It isn’t either/or. There are other ways to accomplish having a Jumbotron. It might not be Jerry Jones gargantuan but it could be of a large size and effective. I’d love to see on there AND keep the scoreboard. Also, if we make the scoreboard digital we might as well tear it down. I think it should stay and we find another spot for a Jumbotron, which is very doable. Keep the scoreboard and the ivy and everything can go in my opinion.

    • SweetJamesJones

      It should be bigger than Jerry Jones “monolith.”

      It should give off so much radiation that when I walk into Wrigley with my pasty white skin, that I should be assured to walk out with the skin of a Cuban love god.

      I cant wait.

  • Ian Afterbirth

    Come to think of it – wouldn’t the batters complain if there was a huge jumbotron right over their line of vision? We have that little thing but it wouldn’t be anywhere near the distraction of a jumbotron.

    Don’t most parks put them things over to the side of the batter’s vision?

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    There is so much that needs to be done to Wrigley outside of increasing revenue streams and enhancing the ballpark experience, there are major renovations that have to address about the structural integrity of the ballpark.  Unfortunately that may require for Wrigley to be shut down for a year while it is gutted and reinforced which means the Cubs will have to relocate for a year.  I doubt that will happen since it will strip the neighborhood of massive amounts of revenue but the question is would everyone rather have one year without the Cubs at Wrigley or 5-10 years of gradual improvements.

  • Brian

    In all honesty, I lost all interest in the Cubs around August of the most recent season. The Theo news is getting me back into things but I do not anywhere close to the passionate fan that I was for the past ten years or so. Call me a bad fan or whatever you will but the Cubs need to make things more exciting. Screw this jumbotron mubo-jumbo. Wrigley needs a new sound system. Maybe it is because I am a sound designer or maybe it is just because I am tired of hearing a weak sound system try so hard to be powerful. Of course none of these problems would be as noticeable if we had a decent team out on the field.

    The point of my ramble here is that things die. Great people die and great traditions die. Great things in life evolve from the loss of other things. It is called moving on. Do not get attached to things. The scoreboard is great. In fact, I think the scoreboard will be up and running 50 years from now. I think the Cubs were lucky to get away with the minimal advertising bit for this long. I do not picture Wrigley as a giant billboard but I definitely see a more corporate look to the whole Wrigleyville area.

    Let’s see something exciting. Give the players the best playing conditions possible. Get the fans into it again.

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