Changes Still Needed at Wrigley Field and Other Bullets

I feel very fortunate to have made it to the Cubs Convention this year, and I’ll have a long write-up about the experience soon. It was a great trip, though I was sad to learn that, in my absence, my daughter – 11 months – had figured out how to stand herself up on our living room slider door, and lick the glass like it was a popsicle. Thank God for technology, or I would have totally missed that hilarious and gross display.

  • A few news bits from yesterday morning’s prospect panel at CubsCon, for those who weren’t able to follow on Twitter: Scouting Chief Jason McLeod said that he was very surprised to see the facilities at Wrigley Field available for players to get ready for the game and to take swings before going into the game (“It’s a challenge.”). We already knew the facilities were bad – anyone who’s taken a tour at Wrigley could tell you that – but to hear one of the execs rip them so candidly tells you improvements are needed ASAP.
  • McLeod, Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilken (who were a part of the panel, together with well-spoken and very likable prospects Anthony Rizzo, Matt Szczur, Jeff Beliveau, Junior Lake, Brett Jackson, and Josh Vitters) added that they will be adding improved video and advanced scouting capabilities throughout the minor league system to make it more like what will be available to the players at the Major League level (these kinds of changes may explain where some of this year’s “extra” money will be going).
  • Fleita added that pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee will start the year at AA Tennessee, and pitcher Robert Whitenack, who was rocketing up the system last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery in early June, is having such a successful rehab that the Cubs expect him to break Spring camp with a club(!), probably High-A Daytona. Whitenack, 23, has largely been forgotten as a top Cubs prospect, but, if he can come back healthy, he could be near the top of many lists by the end of the 2012 season.
  • Cubs players and management remain optimistic about the 2012 season, but Theo Epstein probably admits too much when he explains the source of his hope: “We have one advantage over some of the opponents we might face in that we can withstand an injury or two and still throw a very reputable starting pitcher out there every day. If our opponents can’t in the division because of injuries or attrition or poor performance, then we might surprise some people.” If everyone else gets more injured than we do, we might surprise! Obviously that’s true, but it isn’t exactly the kind of hope you’re looking for at this point. (Ok, Theo added that the Cubs have a bunch of young players with upside, which can also lead to a surprise. That’s true, and I’m with that.)
  • The Cubs will be using a dynamic ticket pricing plan in the bleachers this year, which is a fancy way of saying the price will start low, and then will go up as availability goes down and demand goes up.
  • Kerry Wood’s fundraiser on Friday night was a success and a lot of fun, from the sound of things. Ditto on Theo Epstein’s fundraiser in Boston Saturday night.
  • The Cubs reportedly saved a little money by assigning some of their scouts who were attending the Convention two to a room in the hotel, and encouraging them to take the L, rather than cabs. Does this make the Cubs “cheap”? I’m trying to be bothered by it, but I’m not sure that I can be. I took the L, and it worked just fine for me. Though I do understand – “cheap” is not a reputation the Cubs want to get when it comes to wooing scouting talent.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

67 responses to “Changes Still Needed at Wrigley Field and Other Bullets”

  1. Fishin Phil

    Hope Whitenack continues to have a smooth rehab.  I have high hopes for him.

    1. BetterNews

      Yes!

    2. BetterNews

      JZ helped with that one, he might not be back til 2014!

  2. Kansas Cubs Fan

    I have a feeling the trolls will be all over that last part.

    1. cls

      Yea, that linked article struck me as a news reporter trying to find some form of negativity from an otherwise successful event. Stuck me as a big “who cares” and shouldn’t be indicative of the new Cubs being “cheap.”

  3. Joker

    I see no issue with the scouts being forced to double up and use the L, especially if they are already scouts on the Cubs payroll. Getting to know one another and the city isn’t a bad thing.

    1. CubFan Paul

      ha! they called it dynamic hotel sharing

      1. bluekoolaidaholic

        “Hiltolmetrics”

    2. Andrew

      To be fair if my billion dollar company made me travel for work and made me share a room with no traveling stipend of some sort, I could see myself possibly being a bit peeved. Then again for most scouts, they’ve got their dream job, so I don’t know if they can complain too much.

    3. Andy

      My girlfriend works for KPMG, who like the Cubs of course have the necessary funds to put 1 person to a room. However, on “orientation” trips they are put 2 to a room. This is done for networking and social building skills. I would like to think this is kind of what the Cubs are thinking. It isn’t the worst thing in the world to have employees of a company get to know each other better.

  4. Kansas Cubs Fan

    For you Chicago natives, What is “The L”?

    Train, Bus, or Trolley?

    1. chris margetis

      Train. L stands for “elevated”.

      1. Kansas Cubs Fan

        Thanks.

        1. cls

          And technically, it’s called the “El”

          1. ferrets_bueller
    2. Hcs

      Trains. Mostly elevated over the streets, hence the L.

      1. Hcs

        Always a day late and a dollar short…

      2. Hawkeye

        Technically, less than 40 percent are elevated above the streets.

  5. Ogyu

    Winning by attrition is a real possibility. Wrigley is a cesspool of germs. The Cubs’ greater exposure to that environment should give them a better immune response than their opponents…

  6. Jim

    “We have one advantage over some of the opponents we might face in that we can withstand an injury or two and still throw a very reputable starting pitcher out there every day.”

    It would have been nice if Hendry learned this.

  7. Quintz

    While I like Theo’s candor (and he’s 100% correct), let’s go ahead and assume he won’t be giving pre-game speeches any time soon…….”Let’s face it guys, most of you are below average, but we got a lot of ya, so anything you can do to expedite or cause injury to an opponent, i want you to do it and do it the best you know how!”

    1. Tommy

      Quintz – that was pretty funny!  LOL!

  8. JR 1908

    Any trade rumors recently? The renovations too Wrigley are great and all, but I am starting to have with draw from Garza trade discussions…

    1. Kansas Cubs Fan

      Supposedly 8 teams are interested in Soriano.

      That’s just about it.

      1. JR 1908

        Soriano… I wish that were were true. Just don’t see any salary relief or prospects in return for him.

        1. Kansas Cubs Fan

          I read a FanGraph’s article earlier saying they think he could be a good platoon player at 2-3 mil a year.

          Here’s a link:

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/alfonso-sorianos-platoon-value/

           

          1. JR 1908

            Cool, thanks Kansas.

            1. Kansas Cubs Fan

              No problem.

        2. Mick

          I’m just starting my own rumor here but what about Soriano for AJ Burnett and we pay half of Soriano’s 2014 salary? The Yankees have CC, Nova, Hughes, Pineda, Kuroda, Freddy Garcia, AJ Burnett, etc. and need a platoon DH. We could then move Byrd to LF, start our new leadoff hitter Campana in CF, and give us even more flexibility to flip Garza by the trade deadline.

          1. JulioZuleta

            That’s been rumored. If Tony Campana is the leadoff hitter, we have a shot at the worst record of all time.

            1. Luke

              Bill James is projecting a pretty nice improvement in Campana’s OBP. If James is right, I could Campana making a pretty good #8 guy.

              That’s still a long way from a lead off guy. I wish he could get his OBP high enough to lead off, though. While his speed lasts, he would drive opposing pitchers straight up a wall.

          2. Tommy

            I love Campana, but his .OBP was just over the .300 mark last year.  He’d need to do some serious improving there before leading off for the Cubbies.

            And I’d think Jackson would be starting in center if Byrd gets moved.

            1. McGoate's Toads

              Please stop saying “Cubbies”…We are trying to start a winning era around here. The “Lovable Loser” era is over….

              1. pfk

                I agree. Please, no more “Cubbies.”

                1. Kansas Cubs Fan

                  I don’t think that’s going to help much.

                  If you’re going to try and kick “Cubbies” you might as well change the team name to the Bears because “The Cubs” isn’t much different.

                   

  9. Luke

    Whitenack was injured pretty early in the season, so being able to join a team right of spring training is not too surprising.

    That they are looking at starting him back in Daytona is pretty impressive. I expected he start in extended spring training / ARL until he was back up to a starters workload. If he’s going right back to Daytona, I have wonder if he won’t be starting again sooner than I expected.

    After the Rizzo trade he’s down to #6 on my Top 21 Prospects list; ETA 2013.

    1. Andy

      Starting in Daytona in 2012, an ETA of 2013 seems a little extreme..no?

      I would think more of A/AA in 2012, AA/AAA in 2013 and a Cubs eta of 2014 if all goes as planned.

      1. Luke

        He was in Double A when he was hurt last season, and doing extremely well there. If he is healthy, I think they’ll move him back up to Tennessee fairly quickly. In 2013 he’ll start in either Tennessee or Iowa, but I would expect him to be up in the second half.

        Keep in mind, he was considered a candidate to be promoted to the rotation in 2011 before he was hurt. 2013, in this case, really is not that aggressive… if he’s healthy. If there are additional problems, of course, that would change things.

  10. CT

    Hey Brett,

    Yes, that is a sign of being very “cheap”. I know people who hate it that their Fortune 250 company with whom they’re employed assigns two per hotel room during business trips. I can only imagine how employees of an MLB team must feel.

    Let’s not start down that road, Theo…

    ps, the L is indeed useful, but certainly not enjoyable, in my opinion, ha

    1. RoughRiider

      The “L” is certainly better than taking a train from Bloomington and then the “El”. I enjoyed it though. Years ago.

  11. Mick

    Has there been any movement between the Cubs and the state or city government with the proposed triangle building and grandstands renovation project? I can’t even fathom how much new revenue the Cubs will bring in when they complete this project. If it’s any indication, the Twins went from a $65 million payroll to a $113 million payroll after their first season in Target Field. I can’t wait until the Cubs come up here this summer, hopefully Ricketts travels with them to check out Target Field and takes back some good ideas.

  12. Katie

    Dang!
    I missed the dick jokes.

  13. hardtop

    i have this picture hanging in my “man cave” (downstairs family room) one of my favorite things that i own.

  14. die hard

    Would Soriano be attractive to a Japanese team?…Theo should explore this possibility as Sori could hit a ton there ….as Murton did….

  15. ferrets_bueller

    what….happened here?

    1. TWC

      It’s probably best you don’t know.

  16. TWC

    -

  17. Kansas Cubs Fan

    Haha.

    I can’t quit laughing.

     

  18. MichiganGoat

  19. JR 1908

    Good for you. I will leave that too you guys…

  20. TWC

    -

  21. JR 1908

    .

  22. Big units

    So now your homophobic and prejudcied. Typical Cubs fan. You’re obviously one of the nitwits who makes racial slurs at the ethnic players. Is the team too dark for you this year??

  23. TWC

    -

  24. Kansas Cubs Fan

    I think it’s Betternews in disguise.

  25. TWC

    Impersonating another user is a violation of the site’s TOS.

  26. JR 1908

    .

  27. Nomar's Left Glove

    Wait,you’re saying that Cubs fans are homophobic? Have you ever been to Wrigleyville??!! As far as “dark players”, that’s from Milton Bradley who has a huge chip on his shoulder. He thought bleacher bums didn’t like him because he was black. It probably had more to do with throwing the ball into the bleachers with 2 outs, hitting .109 until the all-star break, and general off-field douche baggery.
    If you’re talking about homophobic racists, you may want to check out a white sox blog, just saying….