Why Darwin Barney’s Record Errorless Streak is So Impressive and Other Bullets

I’m headed to Chicago tomorrow afternoon with a buddy, and we’re going to Saturday’s game against the Giants. I am excited, save for one detail – we’re driving. This year, on my trips to Chicago, I flew each time, because the cost to fly was, generally-speaking, the same as or less than the cost to drive from Columbus and to park in Chicago. Since I’m going with a buddy this time, and because I now have a hybrid (yeah, I’m a yuppy), it’s cheaper to drive. And I hate traffic, man. I haven’t commuted in over a year, and I don’t miss it. So, yeah, we’re going to shoot to arrive before 5pm CT if at all possible. (In case you’re worried about the waiver trade deadline tomorrow, no worries – I’ll be all over it from the road, if necessary.)

  • Darwin Barney is now, officially, the record-holder at second base in the National League for the longest errorless streak, at 114 games. Mark Townsend at the Big League Stew offers the best write-up of the record, and the almost-error that could have cost Barney the streak when he hustled after an errant Welington Castillo throw, and tried to make a play at third. This is exactly what I was thinking about that play, but didn’t adequately articulate in the Enhanced Box Score last night: “And if you look at the play in question here, it should tell you how truly impressive his streak is. Barney is not a conservative defender by any means. He’s not afraid to take a shot or make an aggressive play to get an out for his pitcher, and that didn’t change on a play where it would have been easy to eat the baseball and not risk the streak. That’s just not in his nature …. ” Bingo. It’s also why Barney is the obvious Gold Glover at second base in the NL this year.
  • Another reason Barney’s streak is so impressive? Wrigley Field isn’t exactly a kind infield (in Barney’s words, “[t]here is no ground ball that’s a routine ground ball”). Sure, the thicker grass slows the ball down a bit (though that arguably just gives you more chances to make an error), but the field is more difficult to maintain than the modern surfaces you see in some other parks. Things have improved in recent years with a new drainage system, obviously, and Barney is quick to complement the grounds crew on their work.
  • Bruce Levine wanted to chat with pitching coach Chris Bosio about when the team might pull the plug on Jeff Samardzija’s season, but Bosio wouldn’t bite. “I think from the organization’s perspective it is a case-by-case thing,” Bosio said. “With a young staff we are very pitch-count cautious as well as side throwing and the times we get our relievers up. We monitor everything to ensure the health of these guys for now and the future.” I still think there’s no way the Cubs allow Samardzija to go the rest of the year and rack up 200 innings in his first year back as a starter. There’s just no upside in it – only downside. I bet he gets two or three more starts, and that’s that.
  • Dale Sveum has no answer to why Anthony Rizzo is slumping so hard right now. “Who knows the reason why,” Sveum said, according to Cubs.com. “To me, it’s more a young man who got here and was obviously on top of the world and doing everything, and unfortunately, sometimes in this game, if you try to tell some young guys that for some reason, when you’re going good, you’re putting yourself in line for a slump sometimes. Why that happens is a million-dollar question in hitting – why all of a sudden you’re on top of the world and the next day you feel like you’re on ice skates in the batter’s box. That’s why you give guys day off and give them a chance to regroup.” Rizzo got that day off yesterday, and worked with hitting coach James Rowson.
  • More on/from new Farm Director Brandon Hyde (who played at Long Beach State with new Scouting Director Jaron Madison – how about that?). “We’re just trying to develop impact big-leaguers,” Hyde said, per CSNChicago. “Whether that’s pitching or hitting, we’re trying to get the whole package, so I don’t want to single out one area. The bottom line is our job is to get as many guys to play in Wrigley Field as we can.” Well, he certainly speaks the part.
  • Hyde added that Jorge Soler, who isn’t going to the Arizona Fall League, will instead be playing instructional ball in Arizona after the minor league season ends. “Jorge hasn’t played much baseball,” said Hyde, per Carrie Muskat. “We’re excited about the start he’s had in Peoria. He just hasn’t played much and we want to get him in instructional league and get him five weeks to ge this legs underneath him and get in playing shape. He was short on experience this last year. He’s a special talent.”
  • Maybe someone more familiar with the Boston media can tell me: is Dan Shaughnessy their Steve Rosenbloom? Obviously I’ve read a whole lot of Boston news over the past 12 months, but not many columns (why would I?). But this Shaughnessy kneecapper on Theo Epstein caught my eye, if only for its ambling, lowest-common-denominator shit-stirring. It felt … so familiar. Like the shadow of a nightmare I’d long since forgotten, by choice.
  • BN’er Rated Rookie (remember those?) puts together the All “He Was a Cub?” Team over at the Message Board.

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

134 responses to “Why Darwin Barney’s Record Errorless Streak is So Impressive and Other Bullets”

  1. HuskerCub

    “The field is old and difficult to maintain?” Didn’t they totally redo the playing surface (new drainage, remove the crown, etc.) just a few years ago?

  2. bbmoney

    Wow. Obviously Theo made some moves and signed some deals that haven’t gone well in Boston, but continuing to play the blame game and asking owners if they’re pissed their former GM isn’t getting more blame seems a bit extreme. Also trying to dump on Theo’s legacy and taking away any credit he gets for the 2004 ring seems a little silly.

    Obviously he had a good team to start with when taking over before 2003 and then winning it all in 2004, but guys Theo brought in like Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts (seem to remember a certain stolen base), Curt Shilling, Keith Foulke, etc…..all guys Theo brought in after becoming GM in the fall of ’02 were pretty vital. Not to mention the second ring. Mistakes in FA lately, sure, he’s admitted it, but why the piling on?

    1. MB allbearsbullscubs

      And dont forget Theo was willing to pull the trigger and trade the Boston Gloden Boy Nomar. That move was as impressive as signing Ortiz

  3. JB88

    I didn’t read that as a hatchet job or something below the belt. It is a columnist, it wasn’t low brow stuff that Rosenbloom typically pens either. Frankly, I expected something much worse, to be honest.

  4. Mike

    Sign me up for some shitty seasons in Chicago with “bad clubhouse chemistry” if we get two World Series wins first.

    1. MikeL


      I am really getting annoyed with-as Brett correctly stated-the “kneecapping” of former employees of the Boston Red Sox. i try to preach objectivity when reviewing the career of Theo Espstien. He has had both successes and failures, but for the Boston media to act like Theo and Terry Francona are the the worst employees in the history of the Boston Red Sox is just absurd. It is clear that LL and JH are trying to divert any attention away from themselves and onto everyone else. Was Theo the perfect GM? No. Was Francona the perfect manager? Of course not! However, the positive far outweighed the negatives in the 10 years the two spent with he club.

  5. Jeremy

    Shaughnessy is 100% a shit-stirrer. I lived in Boston from ’01-’07 and could not stand a single article he penned that entire time. He’s there to distort whatever he can to make the biggest sensationalist headlines he can. I have no idea why any of the people there still talk to him other than the fact that he’s been there for 200 years. Although I am a life-ling Cub fan, I have never actually resided in Chicago and am not familiar enough with Rosenbloom to comment on the comparison. Rest assured, the Shaughnessy piece is nothing new and nothing to put much cred in.

  6. beerhelps

    Just had to mention this in regards to Barney’s defense. Mike Mulligan on the score said this morning Barney’s streak is no big deal and he would take Beckham’s defense over Barney. Even more clueless he said beckham is “a better shortstop”. Mully is the biggest Sox homer outside of Hawk.

    1. Cedlandrum

      Mully is an idiot in saying it is no big deal. I am not a big Barney guy, but his defense has been really quite extraordinary. Him saying he prefers Beckham’s defense isn’t a big deal to me. Beckham is quite good, but he isn’t necessarily better then DB.

      1. beerhelps

        Agreed Ced. It just struck me as his typical smarmy thing to say about anything Cub.

        1. Boogens

          Agreed. I do typically like Mully but he is clearly biased against the Cubs so that diminishes my appreciation of him as a show host. It hurts his credibility that he can be objective about the Cubs.

          1. Boogens

            Sorry — Meant to say “can’t” instead of “can”.

          2. JB88

            He’s a Sox fan. And he makes no attempt to hide that. His Sox coverage causes me to change the channel, but I don’t think he is anti-Cubs as much as he is pro-Sox.

            1. Boogens

              Well, if you listen long and closely enough he’s always taking little shots against the team and it pisses me off. I get it that he’s a Sox fan but there’s no need for his anti-Cub snarkiness.

              1. Jim L.

                Sox fans can’t help with the snarkiness towards the Cubs, it’s ingrained in their DNA.

  7. Stu

    Theo will be given a free pass in Chicago for at least 3 years. After that, it will be pretty hard to blame someone else when you have been given complete control over the team.

    There has been a little whining already with the comments about how “we didn’t realize it was this bad” comments that have been occasionally thrown out there. The Cubs had some talent to start with (Castro, Cashner(traded for Rizzo), Garza, etc.) and some bad contracts to deal with(Zambrano, Soriano). But the current revenue stream could easily have justified a better product on the field this year.

    I just won’t drink the koolaid that it has to be all or nothing. Some of you Diehards have a little too much Messiah complex with Theo.

    1. Cubs1967

      Amen brother!. Theo is not a god; look at the red sox the last 3 yrs. And no one can tell me you have to tank to rebuild; if the A;s and Rays ca put playoff teams together with horrid stadiums, attendance under 1.8M and low road attendance compared to the cubs at 2nd highest in baseball; there is no reason for this year, next and 2014 to be “clunkers. talk about NOT trying. isn’t this why the NBA has a draft lottery?

      1. Boogens

        Yeah, I get what you’re saying but don’t forget that the Rays had many years of futility before Friedman that provided them with high draft choices, year after year. That’s the route that it appears Theo is taking by allowing the team to flounder at the major league level.

      2. JB88

        What a bizarre set of teams to compare the Cubs to. The Rays are almost entirely built through a strong farm system. And had an owner for years who appreciated building through the draft. The A’s are a slightly different story, but they were also built through trading talented players for a ton of parts, supplemental draft picks, and the draft. Neither of those situations remotely compare to the Cubs’ situation during the years in which Hendry was in charge of the team.

        It’s just an apples to Ford pick-up trucks sort of comparison.

        And I think that people may be taking Theo’s comments out of context. When he said things were worse than they thought, he wasn’t talking about the ML roster. He was talking about the lack of impact prospects, especially pitching, in the minors.

        I can’t think of a perfect analogy, but this is like banking on the continued strong performance of a college football team with a strong group of seniors, but who have recruited really poorly over the prior few years. You can’t expect the team to compete at the same level when the seniors graduate.

      3. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Yep look at the Red Sox the last 3 years. 90, 89, and 95 wins. We as Cub fans would say that is the greatest 3 year stretch we have ever had. That was some pretty good research before that comment though.

    2. TWC

      Theo will be given a free pass in Chicago for at least 3 years.

      You haven’t been reading the comments here lately, have you, Stu?

    3. Jim L.

      Maybe some of us wouldn’t have a Messiah complex with Theo, if McPhail / Hendry developed minor league talent properly, didn’t go cheap on free agents when this team had a World Series window (2003-4) then overspending on FAs towards the end of the Tribune reign. In other words, if there was competent front office the last 20 years before Ricketts, we wouldn’t have to worry about a rebuild. So just sit back, take the losing like a man and wait for the plan to develop.

    4. Cedlandrum

      I don’t have the Messiah complex with Epstein at all. I think they made some really bad choices last year in an effort to “make a mark.”

      Starting with the Colvin/LeMathieu for Stewart/Weathers trade. This isn’t hindsight either. I lamented the trade the day it was made. Colvin’s OPS is about .80 higher then anyone on the Cubs. I know he hits better at Coors then on the road…. but still. He is every bit the athlete that DeJesus is and he is a ton cheaper. Then you add in the LeMathieu(who I always liked better then most)/Weathers swap. OMGawd. Weathers has a SO/BB of .55! Which means he has walked almost twice as many as he has SO. He is terrible!! They need to cut ties now. 27 year old in AA who can’t throw the ball over the plate. D.J. isnt without flaws as player, but he is a very good athlete who has a really good contact tool, who is young and has the ability to grow. I think he would have been a better option at 3rd then say Valbuena or Stewart for that matter.

      I also still feel that letting guys like Marwin Gonzalez and Ryan Flaherty go to the rule 5 were short-sighted as well. Both guys have been over-matched this year, but they really should have spent the beginning part of they year in AAA and then been mid-season call ups not guys riding the bench and playing sparotically. To be honest we have replaced them with guys like Luis Valbuena and Adrian Cardenas who are not upgrades by any means. Gonzalez would have at least given us a legitimate backup/utility infielder.

      Now the second two are not dramatic, but I think there is always an arrogance with new management that comes in and says we are going to do it our way. They have that right, but unfortunately at times when this happens you cast off the wrong people. I am willing to be patient with the rebuild, but I don’t think it will be without some mistakes.

      1. Deer

        Well written Ced, but there’s probably a contingent that will come after you before the morning is over.

        1. bbmoney

          I think more than “an arrogance with new management” there is a bigger issue with fans overvaluing their own prospects. Especially when no one really expects any of them to be more than utility guys. So big loss?

          Not saying all of Theo’s moves in Boston or Chicago are always right, but as it’s been said…give me two rings…then three years averaging over 90 wins (last three years in Boston) then one terrible year that’s been highlighted by a ton of injuries every day of the week.

          1. Cedlandrum

            All three that I wrote about were valued by other teams. They all have been in the bigs this year. I don’t think it was an overvaluing of any of them on my part.

        2. MikeL

          LMAO DEER!!!

          Remember me? But since you got a little in there, I have to get mine in:

          Uggggh! I am so sick of people whining over trading a fourth outfielder (Colvin) and a guy who projects as a utility infielder (LeMahieu).

      2. Chris

        While I don’t disagree with your logic on any of these players, I don’t know that I can call these moves “mistakes”. They needed a 3rd baseman, and took a shot at a guy they thought they could buy low on. After all, none of the guys they gave away are going to be star players. Not even Colvin. I hated that deal when it was made too, but I can’t fault the rationale. The worst that can be said is they didn’t quite know the players they had at the time the moves were made. And as far as the Rule 5 stuff goes, I don’t recollect who they protected instead of Gonzalez and Flaherty. I believe Cardenas and Valbuena were picked up after the Rule 5 though, so it wasn’t for those 2, I don’t think. I think I like Cardenas over Flaherty, but I’d probably keep Gonzalez over Valbuena. And I would have kept Colvin instead of signing DeJesus, if it were my decision. Still, I’m not going to lament their first moves too much. Bottom line, these are very minor moves, and an argument could be made a guy like Colvin needed a change of scenary. Now if LeMahieu turns out to be an everyday player, I reserve my right to call this a mistake…

    5. MikeL

      “Theo will be given a free pass in Chicago for at least 3 years.”

      He should, and not just because his name is Theo. The organization was in pretty awful shape at the end of last year and it was going to take at least 2-3 years to repair it no matter who the GM was going to be. Some people were pretty unrealistic into thinking that the Cubs could compete this year or next and were suggesting absurd video game like trades and free agent signings.

      1. Frank

        MikeL, I agree. No GM would’ve been able to make up for the desolate lack of impact talent at the minor league level this year, especially higher up in the system. And although I disagree with some of Cedlandrum’s player analysis, I do agree that Theo has made some interesting player moves. Take Colvin out of Coors and he is mediocre at best–I don’t believe he would be more than a 4th outfielder on a good team. Flaherty, LeMahieu, Cardenas, Valbuena–who cares? Are they going to be better, even given time, than Baez, Amaya, or any of the slew of infield prospects we have in the lower minors? No. Flaherty, LeMehieu, et. al., are not impact prospects–fungible at best. I think the only one I would have really liked to see stick around was Marwin Gonzalez. Theo was taking some chances and hoping for better bounce-back than he got. The problem right now is that we won’t know if this approach will ultimately be successful–only time will tell that, and we have to give Theo that time.

  8. BeyondFukudome

    Dale Sveum has no answer to why Anthony Rizzo is slumping so hard right now. ”Who knows the reason why,” Sveum said . . . “Why that happens is a million-dollar question in hitting . . .”

    Sorry, Dale, but that excuse doesn’t wash when you’re the guy who gets paid a million dollars to answer that question.

  9. Curt

    come on people really is this yr 1st time listening to the score they’ve explained this to their audience before, do u know how they get their ratings by intentionally instigating fans of teams to upset them, there’s not much else to say about the cubs this yr so when Barney does something nice you rip on him see if yu can get a reaction from cubs fans and mully has gotten one. if Barney can hit a but more hell be an allstar wtg Darwin.

    1. beerhelps

      Actually the reaction he got from me was turning the channel. And making a couple of posts on an internet message board that is not affiliated with his radio station. But that’s just me, I certainly can’t speak for anyone else.

  10. Chris

    I think I’m happy there is a contingent in Boston that doesn’t like Theo. When they walk Lucchino out the door eventually, we don’t need that ownership group trying to bring him back home. Sure, he made big dollar mistakes trying to keep up with the Yankees. But I can imagine how that pressure cooker pushed him to it. Theo is an intelligent man, and I believe he has learned from his mistakes. Any good GM takes his lessons learned into his next job. Plus, every GM looks forward to going to a new team and starting over from scratch. The Cubs have NEVER undergone a rebuilding of this magnitude. And previous management never would have allowed any other GM to trade away marketable stars in the interest of rebuilding with youth. There was always a Sandberg, Grace, Dawson, Sosa around to sell tickets, even on last place teams. Theo has been given a rare chance by a smart owner to take a big market team and rebuild it the right way. From the bottom up, he’ll have the opportunity to build a winning organization. There is no NY Yankees in the NL Central, so he won’t be pushed into signing big dollar free agents at any cost. They have to be sprinkled in with the home grown talent. I think Theo has learned his lessons from the Boston experience and the Cubs will be better for it. So keep hating on him Boston. We’ll keep our “overrated” GM and see how things shake out.

  11. Stu

    Nice to hear from some of the non-koolaid drinkers regarding Theo. Look, I think he is a good baseball guy. But this whole tear it down to build it up thing is just a ploy.

    Keep in mind the paid a lot of money for the Cubs. They probably overpaid. Now they have some bills to pay. And the check will be handed to the Wrigley faithful for a few years. But don’t sell me on the idea that you can’t build a quality farm system AND put a good Major League product out there for a major market like Chicago.

    1. Flashfire

      How do you do it within the constraints of the new CBA? Don’t just say it can be done. And I’m dead serious here. I want this argument made — because it may well have merit.

    2. Chris

      Stu, enlighten us on how they could acquire minor league talent without trading away major league talent? There’s the draft. They made picks and signed them, so there’s one. International free agency. They signed Soler, Concepcion, Paniagua, and basically spent most of the money they’re alotted, so check that one off. Now what? Sure, they could have spent millions on veterans to fill out the roster more completely in the major leagues, but what does that get them to, .500? Not a playoff team. At this point in our Cubs fandom, who cares if they’re .500 or below .500. I want to see a legitimate playoff contender. Not a team that squeezes into the last wild card spot and then is one and done. I don’t understand what you think they could have done differently this year that gets us to WS contention in 2012. That’s the goal. Anything short of that is a loss, so why not look at various money-ball type options while you’re rebuilding. The worst case is you get a better draft position, and more budget for the draft and international free agency. I’m tired of them being a middling team. They still bottom out eventually. We’ve seen that. They had a “major league product” last year, with a major league payroll, and they were still 20 games under .500. This isn’t the 1993 Tribune company. If they let an ace pitcher walk away in his prime over $1million, then I’ll be pissed. But this bloodletting was necessary. And they’re already being smart about signing core players to long-term deals with the Castro extension. I’d rather see them invest that money back into the ballpark and improving the scouting department than throw it at Aramis Ramirez the next 3 years. And I was an Aram fan. If they have an opportunity to win a WS, then I’ll be the first guy to say spend $250mil on payroll. But that just wasn’t a reality in 2012. If they aren’t going to make the playoffs, I don’t care how bad they are this year, and next. As long as I see organizational improvements, such as playoff appearances in Rookie league and SS-A league, I can live with that. There is a vision that is clear for the organization, and the major league team’s record in 2012, 2013 is secondary.

      1. Boogens

        Right on. You nailed it.

    3. Boogens

      Can’t say I agree with you on the over-paying for the Cubs. Did you see the recent price paid for the Dodgers?

  12. mudge

    Brett’s just not into traffic. I’m still on the fence regarding Theo – is he the messiah, or is he a more calculating, sinister figure who drinks the blood of little children? In kool-aid and blood, the story is written. I’ll continue to read this blog for clues.

  13. Stu

    Ok, sorry if the facts are uncomfortable. They are not replacing the contracts that have and are coming off the books.

    Just look at the payrolls of the last couple of years and the payroll of this year and next year.

    That looks like a lot more profit to me. And I don’t blame them at all. It is just another example of a business who is taking advantage of a brand that has some irrational loyalty.

    1. Eric

      Perhaps. Just perhaps. They are waiting to spend it on the right kind of talent. Instead of investing in a guy who you will be paying $30+ million to when he is 40. I’d like you to now name all of the huge money players that are good investments that they have passed in their 10 months here. Pojuls and Fielder? I mean, really what other big name free agent has been available in the SHORT time span Theo has been here?

    2. Drew7

      “They are not replacing the contracts that have and are coming off the books.”

      It’s been less than 1 year! Giving a guy time to spend the money he JUST made available by some major fat-trimming isnt being a Theo-homer, it’s being realistic.

      I get that he could have gone out and signed some mid-level FA’s in the offseason, but all that would have done is pushed us closer to .500; it doesnt pay to be a 70-75 win team in this league. Really bad this year = bigger international budget + higher draft pick + more draft $.

    3. AB

      People seem to forget last offseason occured before the new CBA was implemented and the Cubs knew there would be restrictions on the draft and international free agency, which they obviously had planned to spend heavily on.

      1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        And thats why they transitioned to needed upgrades in facilities in the Dominican. They gave Castro a bonus. They bought the McDonalds by Wrigley. They bought Soler… Hell, there is about $75 million right there.

        1. Drew7

          “They bought Soler”

          See – wise spending AND reducing their carbon-footprint.

          1. TWC


            1. Drew7

              Hey, why dont you go wipe that kool-aid mustache off your face? Everyone knows Birkenstock’s must be accompanied by a full beard.

              1. TWC

                Oh, I’ll have a full beard… just as soon as I hit puberty.

                1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                  This made me laugh.

    4. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Just because it isn’t spent on the Major League team doesn’t mean it isn’t spent elsewhere. But, hey if Stu can’t see it the facts must just be uncomfortable… Yep, they didn’t buy the McDonalds ($20 million) by Wrigley for needed land. They didn’t buy Soler for $30 million. You know most teams have an overall budget to start the year and not just a Major League one. This was the perfect year to give Castro a $6 million dollar bonus. Also a good year to improve the facilities in the Dominican for millions of dollars… But, if it isn’t spent on the major league team who was going to be horrible no matter what, then everyone is cheap. What I do find funny is the same people who bash him for the contracts in Boston are bashing him for not spending on the Majors in Chicago. That to me is the funniest and most idiotic thing.

    5. hansman1982

      You are right, there is the fact that payroll dropped from last year to this and doesn’t look to do anything but the same for next year.

      There is also the fact that the Cubs had a terrible team last year, a team that needed some giant breaks at the end of the season to end with >70 wins.

      Then the fact that a win on the free agent market (by WAR standards) costs around $5M a year.

      So then there is the mathematical fact that would take a payroll bump of $75M to put last years team into contention using free agency.

      Don’t forget the fact that the two biggest FA players last winter (Angels, Marlins) are NOT going to make the playoffs this year.

      But what about the fact that the team who signed the other giant free agent last winter (Tigers) have an uphill climb to make the playoffs this year.

      Oh, and then this “uncomfortable fact”, the Nationals (a team that it appears we are going to most resemble through this rebuild) have a comfortable lead in their division and are an amazingly young team (i.e. Dynasty potential)

      Finally, a factoid about how we did the “let’s just sign some free agents and ignore gobbling quality minor league talent during a downturn” for the past 2 seasons and it got us to a $130M payroll and 70 wins.

      But, by all means…Ricketts is cheap and Theo doesn’t care about winning.

    6. Frank

      True–but whether it’s profit or not depends on how much of that money they’re keeping and how much they’re putting into the rest of the organization. We know that the front office has been greatly expanded in terms of personnel, we know that there is a new facility in the DR, and we know they put more money into international free agent signings this year. So, much, if not all (we don’t know for sure) of that money is being reallocated into other areas of the organization.

    7. Pat

      Keep in mind that Tribco did not have debt service on the Cubs. Ricketts is in the area of thirty million per year. Some of the difference in payrolls is going there. Also, under the Trib I do not believe the Cubs had a separate Board of Directors. I’d have to imagine each of the kids are getting at least 2 mil a year for that. That’s almost forty million before taking the expanded front office into account.

      1. BeyondFukudome

        Ohhh, okay. So we’re not supposed to be critical of current ownership because: (a) they’re too poor to field a competitive team; and (b) what little money the organization has they kick back to themselves for sitting on a board instead of investing it in the on-field product. Thanks, I feel so much better now.

        1. King Jeff

          No, you aren’t supposed to be so short sighted that you can’t see where the money is going. Instead of complaining that they didn’t massively overpay for a few top level free agents this offseason, and claiming that they traded vets to dismiss payroll rather than add younger, cost controlled talent, you should look at all of the positives things that they have done. The expanded front office includes a vastly expanded scouting department. The Cubs had one of the smallest scouting departments in baseball, now they don’t, and it cost millions of dollars. They signed international free agents, which cost millions of dollars. They have started to buy property around Wrigley, which will help the team in the long run, and it cost millions of dollars. Just because one regime was investing most of the money in the pro level payroll and ignoring every other facet of the organization, doesn’t mean that it’s the only way to run a team, and just because you can’t see the money spent on this team this year on the field, doesn’t mean that they aren’t investing that money to make sure the team on the field is better every year moving forward.

          1. BeyondFukudome

            I don’t know who the hell you think you are arguing with. I never advocated overpaying on free agents or criticized investing in facets of the organization other than pro-level payroll. My comment was directed at debt service and paying the sibs to sit on a board of directors. Perhaps you’d like to explain how those are investments that are gonna guarantee better teams going forward.

            1. Pat

              Well, the debt does need to get paid. Once they actually pay it off, there will be more money available for operations.

            2. King Jeff

              “(a) they’re too poor to field a competitive team;” Combined with “they kick back to themselves for sitting on a board instead of investing it in the on-field product.”

              I thought that these comments were a criticism of the organization not spending money on the on-field product. Which I take to mean that you believe that they purposely took money from the on-field product, to put that money back into their own pocket(s), which I saw as the basis of your criticism. If this was not your intention, then I am sorry for my response.

            3. Scotti

              How is debt service going to make the team better going forward? Really? How about if they fail to service the debt they can’t take out loans–say for the Ricketts’ portion of the Wrigley re-build–at a reasonable rates? Thus more money has to go to paying off more debt (increasingly interest on that debt)…

              And, re. “paying the sibs to sit on the board…” Well, A) they actually DO sit on the board making decisions with their OWN inheritance and B) they are very active–far more active than any Cub owners since Wrigley himself–around the park, the neighborhood, in Mesa, in the DR, with MLB, Rahm’s office, etc. They are actually earning their keep.

        2. Pat

          I’m not telling you how to feel about it at all. Stu was asking where the money formerly going to payroll is. Most of it is going to debt service.

    8. baldtaxguy

      Don’t all teams have a brand that has some irrational loyalty? I think they are called fans and all teams take as much advantage of them as they can.

  14. Fastball

    I am happy for Barney. I thought about Rizzo and LaHair at 1st Base this year. Seems they both came on the scene and went gang busters for a month and a half or so. Then the league seems to have scouted them and figured them out. Once that happened and they found themselves being handled by professional pitching at a different level they started to struggle. There hot streaks lasted about the same amount of time and their demise is almost the same. Rizzo was figured out quickly last year when he came up with the Padres and he hit like a buck fifty. He has all the potential in the world but he is going to have to learn how to change as fast as the scouting reports are generated on him. He’s also not playing in close games anymore like he was when we had Dempster and Maholm and we won 19 out of 30 in July. When the games aren’t as close he isn’t going to be pitched to in the strike zone like before. Pitchers don’t have to worry about him with big leads. Cubs haven’t played but a very few close games since the end of July.

  15. Ash

    This goes back a bit further than the “He Was a Cub?” post, but I caught a question on “The Batter’s Box” after watching the replay of Joe Mather’s stellar mound appearance that really surprised me. The question was “Which player never batted clean-up for an Opening Day Cubs lineup?”
    A. Jeromy Burnitz
    B. Candy Maldonado
    C. Derrick May
    D. (I’m not sure on the last choice, but I think it was) Milton Bradley
    I thought the obvious answer was Candy Maldonado. He was never a Cub! Right?
    Wrong. 1993. Had 140 ABs before he got traded to the Indians. You learn something new every day.

    1. Drew7

      “I thought the obvious answer was Candy Maldonado. He was never a Cub! Right?
      Wrong. 1993.”

      I have a very distinct recollection of Harry slobbering all over himself trying to say that name. I had forgotten all about him.

      1. TWC

        Those were the days that Steve Stone brought in a plastic tarp to separate Harry’s waves of slobber from soaking his scorecard.

      2. Ash

        Now that you mention it, I can remember Harry doing his name backwards…ydnac odanadlam.
        I just thought that memory was coming from a SF game.

    2. Chris

      Larry Himes named Candy Maldonado as one of the many good signings the Cubs could do that season by letting Greg Maddux go. Danny Jackson, Willie Wilson, Jose Guzman, Maldonado, and a few others I can’t remember. Thanks Larry.

      1. EJF

        Dan Plesac… I remember the Vine Line cover as if it were yesterday.

        1. Chris

          Dan Plesac! Yes, that’s another one. I remember the Vine Line too.

  16. Stu

    The Theo contract is over a 5 year period also. So the $19M is not a one year expense.

    That pales a little bit in comparison to the yearly revenue stream of the Chicago Cubs.

    Irrational attachment is hard to argue with sometimes.

    1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Ok Stu. Where does the money come for the upgrade in facilities in the Dominican? Where does the money come from to buy the McDonalds for $20 million? Where did the money come from to buy Soler? The Castro bonus? Upgrades in front office? The upgrades in overall staff? Yep, they sure didn’t spend money this year.

    2. Eric

      You aren’t offering any valid arguments.

      1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        I am not?

    3. Chris

      It’s not irrational attachment. There is plenty of that in Cubs fandom, but I don’t see that much on this site. It’s just hard to understand how you could have expected this team to be anything but bad going into a rebuilding season. Is it really that important for you te see a team that wins 80 games versus 60? What’s the difference? They’re still not a legitimate World Series contender either way. And at what cost do they get to that point? Trade away the few “prospects” that are in the system to try to get 2 or 3 more wins. Then what, a loss in the one game wild card series? It’s that rationale from certain corners of Cubs fans that led Andy MacFAIL to run the Cubs with the idea that they could NEVER rebuild because they are a large market team. They should have done this 15 years ago. They had season nearly as bad with middling veterans on the payroll. What was the difference? At least now there is an infusion of young players into the organization, and a front office that understands how best to scout for the draft. And they have so many more smart minds considering moves before they are being made, which is always a good thing. If they rebuild this way and then refuse to spend the money when they are closer to a title, then I could agree with your thoughts. But to right it off as simply a money grab is silly. And trying to use “irrational attachment” as the basis for anyone that disagrees with you is insulting.

      1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Well put Chris.

    4. Frank

      I would certainly hope one man’s salary pales in comparison to the team’s entire revenue stream–the fact is, Ricketts spent what it took to get the man that most people considered the best available. The only argument you’ve made is that the money is not being spent on the major league team payroll. Ok–that’s true. But you cannot ignore the fact, as you do, that there is an entire organization of which the major league team is a part, and that the rest of the organization–the scouting department, the facilities, the front office staff, the minor league payroll, etc.–contributes to the ultimate success of the major league team, and that it takes time to build a competent and successful organization.

  17. Fastball

    I have said before several times that I am not drinking anybody’s Kool Aid. Theo was okay in Boston. He won with a team that was largely in place when he got there. He made key additions along the way and made some bad ones as well. He’s a smart enough guy. Should he be heralded as a savior? NO. He hasn’t saved anything. I am not all that awed by his moves thus far but I am giving him this upcoming off season to make an impact on the ML product. I believe that if Ricketts and Epstein are going to build a team that is all home grown for the most part we are going to be waiting for a long time. I don’t like Ricketts but that’s my opinion. I think he got in over his head buying the Cubs. That’s my opinion. In my opinion it’s time to start investing money in players like pitchers (starters and bullpen) immediately and sign several David DeJesus’s to short term contracts. I don’t like the Maholm trade because he was a good starting LH and continues to be for the Braves. Dempster being traded was right to do. I kind of feel like Ricketts is profit taking big time this year. I think he is doing what business owners do when they got big loans in a bad economy. Hold onto cash and pay down debt to be cash strong for the future. He should have known better about Wrigley Field. Brett says he spent 19M on Epstein. That’s fine. Epstein keeps spending money on people he likes to go to lunch with and gets rid of the ones he doesn’t. I’m being sarcastic. He’s making changes in the office. I hope one of those guys that he has hired is smart enough to find us some players who will make an impact this next season at the ML level. Make some flippin trades where we make out for a change. Guys with broken arms don’t make me feel confident. I guess the thing that I don’t like most is that he said this year before the season started and all last winter that the Cubs would be competitive and that each season was sacred. Well we haven’t been competitive and if this season is sacred to him then we up shit creek without a paddle. 85-87 wins gets you in the play offs. He could have put together something that got us close to that without mortgaging anything for the future. But he had to save enough money to pay the contractor who swapped out the urinals. Ricketts bought a house so big he can’t furnish it except for the first couple rooms you see when you walk in. The rest is bean bag chairs on bare floors.

    1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      I don’t know. That Maholm trade pretty much had me in awe. Who thought we could get back in return what we got for him? Even if he TJ, that was a fantastic gamble that nobody could see coming.

    2. bbmoney

      Ok, again Ortiz, Millar, Schilling, Mueller, Arroyo, Foulke, Roberts…heck even Pokey Reese….pretty important pieces of that ’04 team that were put in place by Theo. But I guess it was all Duquette. Let’s see player development…hmmmmm….Lester, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Middelbrooks, Bucholz…..signed some guy named Hanley…..I don’t know he’s done ok.

      What could we have done to get to 85+ wins this year? Really, tell me. I really want to hear what strings he could have pulled to make that happen. We were terrible. Signing Pujols? CJ Wilson? That wouldn’t have gotten it done, Angels are several games out of the playoffs and a lot better than us to start with. Fielder? Same story with Detroit. What else would you have done?

      Ricketts has paid plenty of money out this year. 40+M in eaten contracts to get prospects. Buying land around Wrigley, Castro’s deal, Soler, Concepcion….what exactly do you want?

  18. Stu

    Irrational attachment hits a little hard on a website like Bleacher Nation because that really is the whole point of this website, isn’t it?

    I was just pointing out that there is another viewpoint that might let you guys sleep a little better at night, like it is a business and they are trying to keep people paying premium prices for an inferior product. Just realize that there are a lot of bills to be paid.

    1. Chris

      There have always been bills to pay. That this is a business is a fact that is certainly not lost on me. The Tribune company stole that money for many years, no doubt. But I just haven’t seen signs that Ricketts is pulling back dollars as a money grabbing ploy. Theo offered Ramirez and Pena arbitration and they both turned it down. They reportedly bid very high on both Cuban and Japanese imports going into the season, but just lost out on them. It’s not a negative benefit that they get to hold on to some extra money this season, but I fully expect the money to be there when the time comes to spend on a free agent or extend a player that is important to the team. Between what they are doing in the Dominican Republic, as well as the money they’ve already spent at Wrigley, I believe the Ricketts family has been laying the groundwork to set the franchise up for future sustainment, when the time comes to bring the payroll back up to a top 2-3 level. And I also see a time where they’ll have to compete with the Yankees and now Dodgers for free agent talent, and I expect that they will do that. It’s just not now. The smart play is to bank the money, spend it within the organization, and reap those developmental benefits as they could to fruition in 2-3 years. Then get the checkbook out to plug any gaps.

  19. Fastball

    It doesn’t cost much to build in the Dominican Republic. Been there a bunch of times. It’s less than $20 a square foot for a really upscale construction project. Mesa was on the tax payers out there. Soler’s pay check isn’t that much he didn’t start playing until this season was half over and he isn’t getting paid a fortune on a yearly basis. I don’t want to even guess what the P side of the ledger looks like. It’s large. That McDonalds purchase more than likely wasn’t a cash purchase so he didn’t cough up too much of his own money to close that deal. If Ricketts was a smart business man he would drag WGN and CSN into his office and tell them he wants new TV deals equal to that of the Dodgers right now or when the contract is up they won’t get to bid on the new one. And I would be a real hard ass driving that point home. I would have Fox Sports taking everyone in the building out to lunch everyday so all the WGN and CSN weenies had to wear depends to work everyday. If Ricketts forced a new TV deal he could pay off his rehab of Wrigley in cash. Be debt free in a year. If he came out and said this is what I’m going to do. TV Money pays for the upgrade this year and the baseball ticket money pays the salaries of the baseball operation along with advertising etc. Everyone would be down with that.

    1. Boogens

      Your logic escapes me. So, Rickett’s is not a good business man regardless if it is or isn’t expensive to build in the Dominican, Mesa is being done on the tax payer’s dime, Soler’s signing is or isn’t much this year, etc.?

      Put the money aside. Are these moves the Cubs have made good or bad business decisions? In my opinion they’ve been great decisions. These are historic moves for the team. When have they ever made huge international signings? When have they ever had the nerve to strip it down to build it back up? We’ve never seen the Cubs do anything like this iin our life times and you’re complaining about profit and loss. It’s baffling.

    2. King Jeff

      If you can get upscale construction done in the part of the Dominican where the Cubs are building for 20 dollars a square foot, then you need to go into the construction business. I’ve been living in S. Florida for a while, and have worked on a few construction jobs in the Dominican. Skilled labor in the Dominican costs the same as it does in the US, mostly because almost all of the workers and materials will be brought in from the US. It’s going to cost a lot to build that facility, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see estimates well over 10 times what you gave.

  20. Fastball

    The Maholm deal will probably turn out to be great. But it’s one of those, a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush. I’m not sold on the idea ya gotta trade off every guy who does a decent job thinking your going to get 2 more that are going to do just as well. That’s great in theory but it doesn’t work out that way most of the time. You run your business like that for too long you get burned real bad and recovering is extremely difficult. What happens more often than not. The one ya got rid of keeps doing his job and the ones you traded for or gambled on don’t work out. One ya end up having to fire and the other takes forever to be as good as the one you traded in the first place. Anybody who owns a business learns that lesson the hard way once.

  21. JoeyCollins

    The Boston media is just mad that Theo quit before they had the chance to demand he be fired. All this who should get the blame garbage is doing nothing to help the current situation in Boston. Let them keep complaining how Theo left them in shambles and hopefully they start another 86 yr streak. Long live the curse of the Epstein.

  22. Fastball

    I do love this site for a lot of reasons. But mostly you can say what’s on your mind any given day and not get beat up too bad. Some days it depends on my mood that I wake up with. This is my venting spot for a lot of frustrations not all being the Cubbies. The information is always good. I like reading other opinions and views on things. If we all took the same view on things all the time this would be a pretty boring site to read and participate on.

  23. Drew7

    “a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush”
    Ah, that is until we reseach this further, and find that we actually traded:

    The Maholm- Bird (a finch, maybe?), which has reached his ceiling of a 4/5 starter and is pitching way over his head.


    An Eagle with a broken wing that, even if that wing never fully heals, would devour the Maholm-bird even on his best days.

  24. Fastball

    I’m in a bitchy mood today. Hey all in all they have done a lot in a couple of years. More in the positive column than the negative. I have never liked losing all that much. Even when I know I’m on the right track and I have to take a couple of lumps for my business to move forward I hate it. I do see the forest through the tree’s. I just have to expect and see results very often. My customers wouldn’t be my customers for very long if I started delivering them a product that was anything that didn’t exceed their expectations. That’s how we keep them when we charge a little more than our competitor. Better product and better service that’s what we all want.

  25. Myles

    I love the Cubs and I love most of you. We’re all friends, even when we’re enemies. I’m very glad I found this site this spring training and probably visit it a couple of times a day (like many of you, I’m sure). Let’s not forget that we are all here for the same reason.

    1. TWC

      Let’s not forget that we are all here for the same reason.

      To complain about Theo and Ricketts?

      1. Tommy

        BHAHHAHAHAHA! Comment of the week!

  26. @wrglyvilhotties

    All I have to say is that everyone needs to start using the following hashtag while tweeting:


    Thank you,