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While the Chicago Cubs continue to hope for funding assistance to renovate Wrigley Field, funding help to build a new stadium and new training facilities for Spring Training is continuing apace in Mesa, Arizona.

Among the latest newsworthy bits …

  • Riverview Park, where the Cubs’ facilities will be going, has been razed, and is ready for upward construction to begin. That construction should start soon, after the Mesa City Council was expected to approve a $23 million contract for those purposes.
  • The Cubs and Arizona State remain at odds about their plan to share the new ballpark. It was an idea that, at first blush, seemed like a win-win – the Cubs and Mesa net some money when the stadium isn’t being used, the stadium gets a higher profile, and the Sun Devils get a top of the line new stadium in which to play. But practical concerns arose about what happens when the teams have games on the same day, and who gets to use the practice facilities when. I’d reckon that the money aspect is also a hurdle, as it often is.
  • Mesa’s City Council met last week to discuss the impasse, though they wouldn’t comment on what was said or what they plan to do. It’s a fair guess that the leaders will consider their options for applying political pressure to either or both of the Cubs and ASU.
  • Mesa Mayor Scott Smith believes a deal will eventually get done. I like the idea the Cubs and ASU sharing the stadium, both because it seems cool, and because it could save the Cubs some money. But it’s no secret that, from Mesa’s perspective, the Cubs are the priority – there aren’t going to be any troubles for the Cubs, however this flap plays out.
  • Things appear to remain on track for a 2014 debut for the Cubs, with the goal of having construction completed in December of next year (giving the Cubs and the city some time to work out any kinks before Spring Training begins).
  • jim

    New fortune mag shows daddy jo not cub fan. Theo has three seasons to produce starting wed.

    • TWC

      I’m not sure if you actually read the article (link) — or just decided what you think it says — but that’s an awfully poor assessment.

      As has been widely reported before, Joe Ricketts doesn’t like baseball in general (or much else besides making money, it appears) — which, to me, makes him an asshole regardless of his politics. Furthermore the article says nothing about Theo, much less provides him with an ultimatum.

      It’s amazing what you can learn if you actually read first.

      • ron

        I like making money. So am I an asshole too?

        • beerhelps

          maybe you should read his post more carefully too. “(or much else besides making money, it appears)”

        • TWC

          Of course not. I do, too. I didn’t say that liking making money makes you an asshole. I said that Joe Ricketts not liking baseball makes him an asshole. And one can probably assume that I meant that with some degree of jest, eh?

          In my parenthetical I said that from reading that article I got the sense that he didn’t care about much else besides making money. That alone doesn’t make him an asshole. But it doesn’t help.

          • DarthHater

            This entire blog very clearly proves that liking baseball has no connection whatsoever with not being an asshole.

          • ron

            I know what you meant, my point was it is really his politics why you think so lowly of him. because he does do “good” things with his money.

            • TWC

              Jeez, Ron, my “point” was to joke that him not liking baseball makes him an asshole. And that’s it. There’s no need to look any deeper than that. I think I’ve been consistent about not giving voice to my political opinions here.

              • hansman1982

                So what you are saying is…

                Since he isn’t a eukele playing hippy you think he’s an asshole.

                • TWC

                  Well… Yes.

              • ron

                Alright I apologise, guess I am just a bit hyper partisan these days.

                • TWC

                  It’s unavoidable these days. That’s why I like that BN is relatively free of it. Cheers, Ronaldo!

      • cubs1967

        ummmm…. i think by the nature of a 5 yr deal; there is a built-in ultimatum; we don’t need pappa Joe saying it or not. somehow no playoffs in 5 yrs isn’t the goal of a franchise w/o a WS winner in 104……….so great minor league system or not; theo is not dumb enough to think ricketts can have his 1st 7 yrs of ownership result in NO playoffs and theo can stay for another 3 or 5 after it……..but you know; just a geuss for us money-lovin’ as* blanks………

        • Cubbie Blues

          The original statement was three years not five. So, no the three years is not a “built-in ultimatum”.

    • Tommy

      Theo has already produced. We had the best Rookie ball and Short Season A ball clubs in the majors this year (arguably). He said he was building from the bottom up. Next year, those guys will move up a level, and hopefully we can get the same type of players to replace them.

      Judging a GM in his first year based only on Wins and Losses of the big league club is unfair and foolish.

      • Kyle

        :) This comment makes me grin maniacally.

        All 7 of the Cubs top-20 NWL (short-season A) prospects were Hendry legacies, and so were a pretty good chunk of the rookie ball team.

        Great job, Theo!

        • cubs1967

          gotta love the blind team theo lovers; already taking credit for JH’s class of baez-voglebach and wait till maples pitches.
          soler-good, but it’s easy when YOU pay the most for a guy.
          almora-good
          concepion-OUCH

          and yes, you grade a GM on the MLB W-L record; world series winners are defined by the MLB level; not the Northwest Rookie Ball level so year 1 team theo gets a F for the MLB talent and W-L record. i’ve never seen a GM in my 40 yrs of watching baseball, get an extension or a “thatta a boy” when the MLB record was 100 losses.; rookie ball talent not withstanding or AA or any minor league level.

          • Mick

            Theo can take credit for Baez, Vogelbach, and Maples because they’re still in our organization. If Hendry was still running the team they’d be wearing some other team’s uniforms.

            • Kyle

              Are you sure Hendry wouldn’t have just had them killed? Murdering interesting low-minors prospects is exactly the sort of thing Hendry would have done.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                I just spit a little.

          • Frank

            You can’t grade a new GM–ANY new GM–on wins and losses at the major league level for at least a couple of years. The fact that the GM is new indicates that there was a problem prior to his arrival. If this plan works, then Epstein, Hoyer, at al., deserve the credit that goes along with that success. If the plan fails, then they deserve the consequences that come along with that as well. But in no case, can you judge a plan this early on.

        • ssckelley

          That 2011 draft was part of the reason why Theo wanted to come here. That was the best draft the Cubs have had for quite some time, are we sure Hendry even had a hand it it besides negotiating the contracts?

          • Kyle

            I’m pretty sure he had more of a hand in it than Theo Epstein did, so perhaps giving Epstein credit for it is a bit premature.

            • ssckelley

              I think you are giving Hendry a little to much credit. He was already heading out the door and ownership kept him around to negotiate contracts.

              • Kyle

                The point wasn’t to credit Hendry. It’s interesting to see how often he was a tool of management. The Tribune told him to prop up the sale price with some quick division titles, and he did. Ricketts told him to drop $12 million on the draft, and he did.

                The point was that it’s quite absurd to credit Epstein for a wave of low-minors prospects that were in place when he got here. And I’ve seen several people try to do it.

          • baldtaxguy

            Theo was involved in the Cubs’ 2011 draft? Crazy talk. Class of 2011 is Jim Hendry’s. Maybe you want to give Theo credit for not trading (murdering) them this year?

            • JulioZuleta

              I hesitate to give Hendry a ton of credit either. It’s not hard to draft Vogelbach, Dunston, Maples and the like for big overslot bonuses. Every one knew they were all higher values than where they were picked. It wasn’t supreme scouting, Ricketts just happened to be the owner that would write the checks.

              • Kyle

                To be honest, outside of Cubdom, it seemed like the consensus was the Cubs overpaid for most of those guys even by overslot standards. It was money looking for a home more than it was looking for good values.

                But the success this season seems to be contradicting that opinion.

              • Kyle

                Also, if we use that standard, does Epstein get credit for Soler?

                • JulioZuleta

                  I don’t know if you really give credit to Epstein for Soler yet. If he pans out, sure, but for now, I would tend to give the credit to Ricketts again for ponying up the cash. I’m not saying you can just buy prospects, I’m just saying the draft wasn’t a product of fantastic scouting necessarily. I certainly would give mroe credit to Wilken than Hendry anyway, and I’m not a huge Wilken guy anymore.

                  • baldtaxguy

                    “If he pans out” Theo gets the credit, but if not, we label it a Ricketts’ failure?

              • gutshot5820

                Nonsense, Theos’s success in the draft was largely due to his oversized budget.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  The money was a big part, but I believe they also had a pretty high hit rate in the first round.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Also, there is a huge logical fallacy that I see repeated over and over again: the unstated assumption that if you are willing to spend, then you can always find the prospects. This simply is not true: if anything, then the high price of some prospects is due to the high demand for them. It’s not like there are Elsbury, Pedroia, Lester, etc., caliber players unsigned by MLB simply because it was $10M or nothing for them.

  • RoughRiider

    You can’t give credit to the Theo/Hoyer Regime for the picks of 2011. You can give the organization credit. A lot of the guys reponsible for the draft last year were still with the Cubs this year and you can’t take away credit from Hendry for the draft of 2011. If memory serves me, although he had been all but fired, he stuck around until after the draft and signings were done. It is absolutely asinine to suggest that Hendry would have gotten rid of Baez, Vogelbach, and Maples. Even if he had wanted to, you can’t trade first year players until after the next draft. I liked Hendry for the most part but he’s gone now. I know that things are being done to better the Cubs Organization and done in the right way. I don’t like seeing the Cubs with a losing season any more than the next Cub fan and after watching them for 50 plus seasons it pretty disheartening and discouraging. I don’t know if this group in the Front Office is going to get this team to the World Series or not but I support them and knocking them at this point is pointless and ill informed.

  • jim

    Good source told me–ok this is third?-hand– that eldest son pete is a st louis cardinal fan.

    • TWC

      Well, he’s definitely an asshole.

  • Spriggs

    It would be cool if the Cubs and ASU can work something out. If they can, it will help make the “Wrigleyville” concept at the new stadium a lot more feasible by attracting the nearby college crowd. Being less reliant on Spring Training crowds from out of state might be enough of an inducement to encourage establishments to build there. Otherwise, I’m afraid “Wrigleyville West” will be a ghost town for quite a while, and consequently a big joke for the anti-Cubs factions down here (of which there are plenty).

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