So, the baseball season has started. The A’s are taking on the Mariners in Japan as I type, and they’ll do it again tomorrow. And then each team will come back to the States … and do more Spring Training. Which is not at all totally stupid …

  • Cubs management will meet with the coaching staff after today’s game to make final roster decisions, though we might not hear about all of them until a little bit later. At present, we’re waiting to hear a final decision about the back-up catcher, the number three and four starters, half of the bullpen, and the last two bench spots. For what it’s worth on the back-up catcher battle, Doug Padilla’s sense around camp is that it’s 51/49 in favor of Welington Castillo. I’m not there to have a sense, but I’ll take the 49 on Clevenger. Just barely.
  • The Dodgers sale is one step closer to complete, with the selection of a winning group (Stan Kasten/Magic Johnson group) at a bid of $2 billion(!). If and when the sale goes through, the implications are probably going to be far reaching for upper echelon franchises like the Cubs. For one thing, it makes the Ricketts Family’s purchase of the Cubs in 2009 at just $845 million look like a steal (yes, I know the circumstances are not the same). It also probably cranks up the value of the Cubs – probably enough that the Ricketts Family might at least blink when they think about what they could now sell the Cubs for. That isn’t going to happen, though, so fear not. It’s possible that the Dodgers sale could have a directly beneficial impact on the Cubs product we see in the near term: if the sale jacks up the value of the Cubs, the franchise’s debt/value ratio could drop significantly, and could thus leave some extra dollars laying around to be spent on the product. This story will play out over the course of a long period of time, but, on the balance, this is probably modestly good news for the Cubs.
  • James Russell is ready to potentially be the only lefty in the bullpen – and a late-inning setup man, or long-man, or swing-starter, whatever. Says Dale Sveum: “There is a good chance he could be the only left-hander in the bullpen and you just use him to the advantage of helping you win every single night. Whatever those innings end up, or appearances, it will be dictated by how we’re playing and how many close games we’re in.”
  • We haven’t yet heard the decision on the compensation going to the Padres for hiring Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, and, while I’m not worried, I have been thinking lately about the implications of the departure of Padres’ CEO, and rejected owner, Jeff Moorad. Recall, it was the apparent buddy-buddy relationship between Moorad and Ricketts, as well as Moorad’s preference for Josh Byrnes to run his club, that allowed the Cubs to get Hoyer and McLeod so easily. It’s fair to assume that the parameters of the compensation transaction have already been outlined and can’t be changed. But … what if they aren’t? Could we be looking at another Red Sox situation, where a new boss comes in and says, “wait a damn minute, we let our guy leave for a lateral move, and we’re not getting a premium prospect? No freaking way.” I doubt it. But I’m a worrier by nature.
  • Here’s a 2012 Chicago Cubs preview on the Tribune’s web site. I can’t tell you whether it’s worth reading, because I couldn’t get past the mess of grammatical errors, comma splices, and hacky prose in the first two paragraphs: “Fans of the Chicago Cubs have gotten used to waiting until next year. Well this season it really applies, because this Cubs team is going nowhere and quite possibly could be the worst team in baseball. But their is hope. Why? Well because the team’s biggest offseason acquisition came in the form of former Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein….” The article doesn’t appear to have been written by a member of the Tribune’s staff, and, instead, is part of some kind of content exchange. But, come on, Trib: you gotta look at what you’re publishing under your name.
  • We’re talking about why the 2012 Milwaukee Brewers will suck over on the Message Board. Join the fray. Jeff Samardzija offered his own on the radio the other day, jabbing Ryan Braun about his offseason positive test for PED.
  • Matt Garza dives for balls in Spring Training even when the netting behind him is about the stop the ball. Dude is a hustler.
  • Sleep where Ryne Sandberg slept. If you’ve got $650K, that is.
  • MLBullets over at BCB for your perusal.
  • cjdubbya

    “But I’m a worrier by nature.” That’s why his friends call him Whiskers.

    • Brett

      I feel like that’s probably clever, but I don’t get it…

      • BD

        Will Ferrell as Harry Caray on SNL. If you want a good laugh, look it up.

        • Brett

          I know the act – I just didn’t remember that specific quote. I remember things like the moon being made of cheese, and Norm MacDonald being made of bacon.

          • cjdubbya

            This was from the one where Jeff Goldblum plays a scientist that is a guest on his show. Wife’s got a thing for Jeff Goldblum (circa Jurassic Park…I don’t get it, but hey, to each their own, I’m just glad she’s got a thing for me too!), so when I saw you said tha, that line in the SNL skit instantly came to mind. Very glad a bunch of others hopped on board – sometimes my sense of humor is a little too subtle for people. And by people, I mean everyone but me. Oh well, at least I can amuse myself easily, so I’ve got that going for me.

    • Stinky Pete

      “But… I thought your friends called you whiskers because you were curious…”

    • BD

      “It’s a simple question Dr., would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?”

      • MaxM1908

        “I sure would. And then I’d wash it down with a nice, cold Budweiser.”

    • Rynorooter

      “If you had to choose between being the most world-renown scientist in your field, or getting mad cow disease, which would you choose?”

    • ReiCow

      This is (partially) why I love this site.. this quote is exactly what came to mind the MOMENT I read about Brett being a worrier!


    • ReiCow

      In addition to being a worrier, Brett also loves cats and thinks everything that is keen is the cat’s pajamas. Does this mean we can start calling him whiskers?


  • Fishin Phil

    I accidently read the preview you referenced above. It was pure crap. Sounded like someone repeating crap they heard from a friend of a friend who’s sister used to be married to a sports writer.


  • CubFan Paul

    Kinda lame that the As & Ms weren’t on tv live

    • jerry

      is the game on mlb channel live right now?

      • CubFan Paul

        No, it’s a replay

  • Cheryl

    Are there any guesses about how many games the Cubs will win this years? I will say 87, Cheryl

    • Brett


      • Fishin Phil

        You stole my number!

    • Chaz

      That is definitely a very optimistic win projection. I haven’t seen one that high yet. My projection is like most, around 74 wins.

    • Luke

      I’m going to stick with 78.

    • BeyondFukudome

      I’ll say 63, just to avoid predicting 100 or more losses…

    • DocWimsey


    • Jay Anderson Jr

      Predicting. Big year from Soriano and LaHair and a monster season from Castro, 87 is not out of reach.

      I’ll go with .500(81)

      • hardtop

        wow man, the definition of the hopeful cub fan. god bless your optimism, i wish i could share in it.
        if front office was correct on stewart and dejesus i could go as high as 79.
        if “they are who we thought they were”: 66
        im going to go out on a limb here and say 75
        summary: okay starting pitching, bullpen drops a bit, dejesus has an adequate season, fonzie continues his trend and hits in the low 200’s while knocking over 20 balls out, lahair doesn’t match pena’s power but equals or surpasses his OBP, no change in barney, soto hits a tiny bit better, castro’s ba/obp drop very slightly but improves a touch on defense, and stewart loses his job in may

        • DocWimsey

          A swing of 6.5 WAR for any one player alone is pretty big!

          • hardtop

            yeah, its an optimistic guess, not a statistical analysis… ive seen the numbers but i just cant allow myself to stop hoping they could be at least almost decent this year. i know, high hopes right? “almost decent” is good enough for this cubs fan in 2012.

            • DocWimsey

              Well, DeJesus almost certainly will be a net improvement over what the Cubs got from RF last year. However, Stewart almost certainly will be a net loss from what the Cubs got from 3rd last year, and a bigger net loss than DeJesus will be a gain. (I’ll be happy to be wrong about this, however!)

              LaHair probably will be break-even from what the Cubs got from Pena or a little worse. Still, that leaves the Cubs with a net negative from the major changes. That means that the pitching basically has to improve by the same amount for us to expect the same record as last year.

              (I am hopeful that it will: but last year’s starting pitching was pretty awful.)

    • DocWimsey

      One thing that helps is to look where the Cubs were last year in key stats and ask yourself whether they’ve improved:
      Net HR: -14
      Net BB: -155
      Net 2B+3B: +3

      Only 1 of 14 0.500+ team had Net HR < 0. A team scoring "0" for all of these is a quintessential 0.500 team. 5 of 14 0.500+ teams had Net BB<0: but these were all teams 10-14: and most of those teams made up for it with big positives in Net HR.

      The Yanks had -16 net 2B+3B, but every other playoff team (as well as the near-miss Sox) had positives in all three.

      So, do people really think that the Net HR is going to be positive this year? Or that the Net BB will be positive? Both 2011 numbers (and especially the Net BB) represent a long ways to go!

    • Ian Afterbirth


  • gritsngravy

    The tribune article that you are referring to looks exactly like what I read on mlb trade At least he changed a few words so he doesn’t get into trouble for copyright infringement. I am not a sports writer but cmon dude look sharp when you write an article in the tribune.

    • CubFan Paul

      Yes, the offseason in review piece on mlbtr

  • gratefulled

    I will one-up ya, Cheryl. 88.

    Please tell me these games in Japan don’t count. This sucks. Feels like I’m watching a different sport, certainly not MLB. I wonder what Marlon Byrd would say about playing games in Japan. They would probably ruin his whole season. He could use them as an excuse for hitting .250 and knocking in 32 RBIs.

    • DocWimsey

      Actually, players have complained in the past that the Japan trip threw them off for a while. I can buy that, having made that trip (and longer) a few times: I did Oz for just 7 days last summer, and it was 3-4 weeks before I was on track again after coming home.

  • Evolution

    Love the analysis of Dodgers sale effects, Brett…I agree…this is the kind of thing that can positively impact borrowing power and cash flow, which is one of those things we don’t really hear about during player acquisitions and negotiations. Can be pretty critical to general business operations.

    I think it’s a good thing for all MLB team values, but most especially the big markets.

    • RoughRiider

      I remember an article a long long time ago quoting Wrigley that he wouldn’t sell the Cubs if you offered him 4 Million dollars.Of course the Major League minimum was $12,500 back then and most players had winter jobs.

    • ty

      Frankie McCourt may have been screwed over by his lovely wife and her chauffer and then he met Magic. Love at first offer!

  • Mike

    I doubt that the sale of the Dodgers has all that much to do with the value of the Cubs, for one principal reason:

    The fact that the Cubs TV rights are locked up in the near term is going to deflate their value relative to a team that has the ability to sell their rights now.

    That said, that $2 billion number is pretty bonkers, and suggests that the average value of an MLB team is inflating faster than that Forbes article would suggest it is.

    • CubFan Paul

      The dodgers sold for $2B because of the debt (mccourt’s creditors will be paid in full by the bankruptcy trustee from the $2B)

      • Evolution

        Yes…but, no investor would buy the debt if it made the purchase a bad investment.

        • CubFan Paul

          The dodgers & mccourt’s debt is worth $2Billion’s not a bad longterm investment at all but the club itself is not worth the $2B

    • Brett

      I understand your initial point (and I think it’s a good one – and is a part of what I alluded to in the parenthetical in the Bullet), but you do recognize that it’s undercut by your concluding point, right?

      • Mike

        It’s not undercut at all. It’s worth discussing the Cubs value in light of what people are saying about the value of MLB franchises in general. I just don’t think the specific case of the Dodgers should make anyone draw conclusions about the Cubs specifically .

        In other words, if Forbes says the value of MLB teams inflated on average 14% over last year, I would apply some estimate around that to the Cubs – or as I alluded to, maybe slightly more. Who knows? But if you read the article, one of the chief driving forces of said inflation is local broadcast rights – which the Cubs won’t be able to take advantage of for some time.

        • Brett

          “It’s not undercut at all. It’s worth discussing the Cubs value in light of what people are saying about the value of MLB franchises in general. I just don’t think the specific case of the Dodgers should make anyone draw conclusions about the Cubs specifically.”

          Again, we agree overall, but you don’t see the inherent conflict in that quote?

          The problem is: the Dodgers are the only team being sold right now, so of course we’re talking about the specific case of the Dodgers. And, since this is a Cubs blog, of course we’re talking specifically about the Cubs. But that’s just semantics – we’re really talking about the impact of the Dodgers’ valuation on “other baseball teams.” It just so happens that the only team we really care about is the Cubs.

          You call what I wrote “draw[ing] conclusions about the Cubs specifically.” I call it speculating about a Cubs-specific conclusion based on a new fact that impacts all baseball teams, especially large market ones.

          I’m not tone-deaf about the broadcast rights issue (I discuss it frequently), but neither do I believe that, if the Cubs were sold today, the broadcast issue wouldn’t play *positively* in the sale price. Folks who buy multi-billion dollar assets have no problem projecting five, ten years down the road.

          • Mike

            Eh. Maybe my main issue is just with your phrasing. Do I think the Cubs are worth more than Ricketts paid? Sure. Do I think that they’re worth anywhere near what the Dodgers are worth? Very likely not. So no, there’s no conflict in what I’m saying. Again – one of the principal reasons for the inflating value of MLB franchises is local broadcast rights. And due to the Cubs’ situation, it could be possible that the Cubs value has inflated LESS than the average team.

            And look at other revenue streams – teams are maximizing revenue with new or renovated stadiums, more in-stadium ad sales, etc. All of those things are (for reasons which have been discussed multiple times on this blog) while the Cubs are increasing their cash flows from those things, they’re going to have a more difficult time doing it than the average team.

            And yes, they’re going to project five, ten years down the road. That’s my point – do you understand how cash flow discounting works when it comes to these sort of valuations? The very fact that the increased cash flows are coming five, ten years down the road is the principal difference that the Cubs would would be worth significantly less than the Dodgers.

            • Brett

              I think we agree on all counts, and are tripped up by the limited nature of this exchange. I never said (or implied – at least I don’t think I did) that the Cubs were worth $2 billion. I simply asked the question.

              Looking back at what I wrote, in light of this conversation, I feel even more strongly about the relatively limited point I made in the Bullet.

  • Evolution

    I hear you, Mike, and those are good points. That said…the Cubs rights are not locked up for eternity, and the recent sales of TV rights give them a sterling view of their negotiating position for the next go ’round.

    Furthermore…the buy-in for any MLB has a market of its own. When a team sells for $2B, it absolutely affects the other teams, especially those with a profound national presence.

    • Mike

      Sure, it increases their value in the long term. But if you’re doing a valuation based on discounted projected cash flow (as most of these things are), the fact that the Cubs payday is coming years down the road has much less of an impact on their current value compared to a team like the Dodgers who is getting renewed next year.

  • Chris

    Yep – that Tribune article was pretty worthless. Who the heck wrote that and why are they getting paid to do it over any of us??!!

  • Ivy Walls

    Since the blogosphere and message boards came along the print media has either shown how shallow they were or how much things have degenerated and this does not include just sports. Anyway, I think this club (barring a rash of injuries especially to the pitching corps) will be quite competitive. I look at last year as the lowest possible production, (perfect storm in the negative, organizational melancholy waiting for the shoe to drop–Hendry, bad bad on field management and coaching, individual instead of team play by the players, Zambrano and Bradley legacy) all culminating in 71 wins.

    This year overall team production will increase because of fundamental baseball, players playing and focused on the game and situations. Continued subtractions will be welcomed by those who remain on the club as improving the team short and long term. Even the fact that mental mistakes are addressed in the dugout—no pampered veterans (actually only Soriano, Dempster and possibly Soto) could be in that category anyway and I think Soto is traded for value.

    I am thinking Cubs are close to 81 (+/- 1 or 2) and I think 81 + is the real objective up and down the org chart.

    • DocWimsey

      The problem with this idea is that the Cubs did just as well as their numbers said that they should have: there is no sign that they under-succeeded relative to the performance.

      We now have at team that probably is going to get a lot fewer net HR, make only a small dent in the (very very negative) net walks and not see much change in net doubles & triples. That actually points to fewer victories, not more!

      I am still sticking with 73 wins, however. But I’m being optimistic.

      • gocubbies

        I would contend that your analysis just looks at the Cubs offense. The other way to improve the metrics you’re discussing is to decrease the numbers being put up by other teams. If the Cubs have better pitching and fielding this year, there’s a very real chance they could improve their Net HR, 2B/3B, etc.

  • Tony S

    80 wins. I’m banking on our rotation being superior to last year just from having more options (and Volstadt and Jeff S. to have breakout seasons). Superior defence at 3B (liking Stewarts spring) and SS (Castro’s natural improvement). We never hit with runners in scoring position last year so it cant get any worse. But mainly I’m hoping that the coaching staff preaching fundamentals will mean we win more of those 1 run games. How many games did we lead or be close only to have poor fundamentals result in the loss? I lost count. Included in this is the assumption that the new manager will be more willing to use small ball in those close games just to get a run across the plate. Quade infuriated me last year with his refusal to even consider a hit & run or squeeze.