michael bourn bravesIn what will hopefully be the final Taylor Family Illness 2013 introduction, it’s looking like The Wife and The Little Girl are going to recover well from their bouts of nastiness, and I have tentatively escaped its evil (and gross) grasp. The BN Podcast was not so lucky, however, as the familial illness torpedoed Sahadev’s and my reasonable recording options. So we’ll have to punt until early next week. Many apologies to the loyal listeners among you. And, for those who haven’t started listening yet, use this lull to get started. BOOM: I just used a family sickness to promote the podcast. Synergy! (And, since everyone seems to be OK now, I don’t feel bad about it.)

  • Who owns Chicago? Well, if a sample of sales from a particular official retailer is to be trusted, it’s the Bears, and it isn’t particularly close. Crain’s looked at sales from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Da Bears claimed five of the top ten selling pieces of Chicago sports gear, including the top two and three of the top five. The Bulls were next at numbers three and six, and the Cubs were next at four and ten. Maybe Cubs fans just don’t like apparel all that much? The two Cubs entries were the Cubs’ away batting practice tee-shirt and the Cubs’ basic hat.
  • Jeff Passan writes about one of the many unintended consequences of MLB’s new CBA: serious trouble for free agents who received qualifying offers. In the past, top free agents were offered arbitration by their former teams, and only the elite free agents who declined that offer would cost their new team a draft pick. Now, the players who’ve received “qualifying offers” (one year, $13.3 million) – mostly it is the upper level free agents – and sign with a new team will cost their new team a draft pick in either the first or second round. Sounds pretty much the same, yes? It sure hasn’t played out that way, as the Michael Bourns, Rafael Sorianos, Adam LaRoches, and Kyle Lohses have had troubled finding a large market for their services. So, what changed? The Draft changed. In the past, if a team lost its first rounder to sign Michael Bourn, they could still spend as much as they wanted in the later rounds to get talent that slipped, and even things out for themselves. Now, picks are assigned a slot value as part of the team’s Draft bonus pool – and if you lose the pick, you lose the money. In other words, signing a top free agent is now much more costly than it was in the past for clubs who didn’t mind spending way overslot later in the Draft. Now they can’t do that, and the first and second round draft picks are much more valuable. It’s a crappy situation for those free agents, and for teams that are willing to spend heavily on the amateur side (which includes both large and small market clubs).
  • Derrick Goold takes on the same topic, and it’s a good read, too. All very informative, and very relevant to the Cubs as they project to be a team considering some bigger name free agents next year.
  • A side effect of that unintended consequence? Players who project to receive qualifying offers are going to love being traded in the final year of their contract, because then their next team isn’t subject to losing a draft pick/bonus pool money. And the player will receive the benefit of that with a healthier contract than he might otherwise have received.
  • The Cleveland Indians just got a new TV deal: 10 years, $400 million. By most estimates, the Cubs’ TV take is around $50 million per year. Once again, you see how hamstrung the Cubs are if they are to be considered a “large market” team.
  • Terence Moore touches on the reason the Steroid Era has always bothered me so much: the numbers. More than any other sport, baseball is all about the numbers.
  • The progeny of Tinkers.
  • King Jeff

    I used to love all the homeruns and high scoring games of the steroid era. Then Luis Gonzalez hit 50 homeruns a few years after Brady Anderson hit 50. I watched both guys play a lot throughout their careers, and I didn’t think either was a 30 homerun player, so seeing them both hit 50 just put that negative connotation in my mind. It really made me think about what I like about baseball so much.

    Glad the families okay Brett.

  • abe

    Would it be worth it sign R. Soriano and flip him by the dead line? We probably could pick up a nice prospect in return.

    • abe

      Or maybe Kyle Lohses.. They might want it because if the cubs flip them they can’t be offered “qualifying offers”

    • itzscott

      I’d say it depends on how good a team’s scouting dept is….

      I’m reading it as if the Cubs signed Soriano now, they’d lose a draft pick. Therefore, Epstein/Hoyer would appear to need to weigh the value of who was being received in return when Soriano’s flipped vs the potential of what would be available at the draft position they’d be relinquishing.

      • BD

        But the Cubs would only be losing a 2nd rounder, instead of a 1st rounder like many of the other teams. Plus, since those other teams don’t want to sign him and lose a pick, the price would drop (in theory).

    • Mick

      Would it be worth the 2nd round pick to sign Soriano? Yes, because in the end, the Cubs would be trading their 2nd round pick for whatever they traded Soriano for at the deadline and one could argue that Soriano is the best closer in baseball right now. It may also open the door ever so slightly for the Cubs to also sign Bourn since they would have already surrendered their 2nd round pick to sign Soriano.

      What was Soriano thinking turning down a the Yankees 1-year qualifying offer? $13.3 million for 1-year of setting up for Rivera? Sounds too good to be true.

  • BigPappa

    Between Thansgiving and Christmas is the middle of football season, but out of season for baseball (long over for the Cubs). Wouldn’t the numbers be different for a time period in the middle of baseball season when there is no football?

    • Coldneck

      Was thinking the same thing. If they redo the study from June through July I’d be willing to wager the order would be Cubs, Sox, Bears, Bulls.

      • King Jeff

        Sox #2 in sales? I didn’t know that they had that many fans.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Maybe – I think their point was to focus on holiday shopping, though, which I’d think spreads itself out pretty evenly.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Maybe for diehard fans, but most people (including my wife) don’t think baseball during the off-season. It wasn’t until Green Bay lost to the Vikings (read as Bears being out of the playoffs) that she told me “OK now it’s baseball season” (read as OK now I will listen to you about the twitter conversations with Garza & etc.) A better picture would be to take the year as a whole. Also this is a list of most purchased individual items. It would also be better to view all merchandise sold as a whole.

          • hansman1982

            Back before I was a Cubs-blog visitor, come Sept 1 I didn’t really care much about the Cubs other than when they actually did something. From Sept 1 to April 1, I was a football and basketball fan. I would have been MUCH more likely to purchase football gear than baseball gear in December.

    • mak

      yea, no doubt that study is worthless given that every chicago sports fan is highly tuned in to the bears in November/Dec.

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    Nice story on Joe Tinker’s great grandson.

  • Edwin

    It’s a shame though, that during the steroid era was some of the best baseball ever. Great players, great performances. My favorite baseball season ever is still 1998. Kerry Wood K’s 20, the home run chase, not to mention you had players like Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr, A-Rod, Jeter, Maddux, Pedro, Clemens, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Curt Schilling, Frank Thomas, all having prime seasons. What an absolutely amazing time.

  • Boogens

    Hi Brett, the Crain’s sales results aren’t particularly telling. The Bears were in the middle of their season, in the midst of a playoff push during the holiday season while the Cubs had a significant (and widely expected) down year. It’s not a major surprise that the Bears outsold them for that period of time. It would be very interesting to compare the 2012 Cubs merchandise sales to previous years (namely 2007 & 2008) and a year or two from now when they are expected to be much better.

  • hansman1982

    It could also be that players will start taking the qualifying offer if they are going to get hosed in free agency anyway. This would cut down on the number of qualifying offers.

    • ssckelley

      Good point, I also wonder if this affects the college game at all. Now that teams cannot over spend in the later rounds I wonder if more of this talent will go to college instead of jumping right into the minors.

  • CubFan Paul

    So Boras’ plan to have Bourn test the market failed, when he could of kept Bourn in Atlanta for $75M.

    I’m not sure if ATL would of considered trading Bourn back in June/July (to a team looking to extend him/buck the CBA) but they would have gotten more back than a supplemental pick

  • blublud

    I know the the pick and the money is a big deal, but when it comes to a proven Major League player, I still don’t understand why it really matters. I would rather have 4-5 solid years of almost guaranteed production over a future projection anyday.

    Look at it this way. If you had $1000 to invest, and someone offered you an investment opportunity. You had 2 choices. You could invest your money in this one company and there is a 85% chance you could get a $3,000 return this month, and a 15% chance you lose half your money or you could invest in this other item that has a 25% of bringing you $10,000 after a year, but there is a 75% chance you’ll lose it all. Which investment are you more willing to make. I’ll take the first investment and the Major League Proven talent every time.

    • King Jeff

      That’s assuming that Bourn is going to have 4-5 more productive years. I think that has to be more of a concern than the draft pick. I think it’s a subjective case for every player, comparing how many years and how much production you think you are getting for that player against an increased chance of landing a top prospect in the draft, where I fully believe in the quantitative approach. Which is more valuable, the short-term MLB production, or the long term value of the prospect?

    • ssckelley

      You are right, the top free agents it does not make a difference. But this affects that 2nd tier of free agents more than anything. If you are signing Josh Hamilton you are not going to care as much about that 1st round pick and the pool money.

    • Rcleven

      I don’t like risk reward on either investment you mention.
      I would bank my cash till another investment comes along or there is a major correction in the market and the asset becomes cheaper(less risk more reward).

  • ssckelley

    This was my point last week about the value of the Cubs 2nd round pick if they were to sign Bourn. The pool money is more valuable to the team than the actual pick itself. It is not a huge deal for the Cubs but for other teams that lose their 1st round pick to sign Bourn it is a much bigger deal. The MLB draft is much different than any other sport as where a player gets drafted is more about if he will sign not necessarily his talent. So a team could lose their 1st round pick and still draft 1st round talent in the later rounds.

  • Roy Hobbs

    Chicago is and always will be a bears town first.

    Football is more popular in America than baseball.

    • ISU Birds

      I would say that the city of Chicago would probably have the Cubs 4th. Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls.

      • cRAaZYHORSE

        Blackhawks ? They did win a championship a few years back. and you might be correct if you are talking about WASPS . BUt Chicago is a diverse CIty and Hockey is still a white mans game . I sometimes have to work on the SouthSide of Chicago and trust me the fan base is the Bears ,Bulls, Sox ,Cubs , Soccer, then the hawks, Northside Bears ,Cubs ,Bulls( flip flop when the Bull have winning seasons vs CUbs) Maybe in some Suburbs the Hawks have higher pct of die hard fans but never in the top 4 . .

      • Tom

        Blackhawks drop way back because of the strike and until Bulls win a championship again they will trail the Cubs.

        In terms of a single popularity metric — attendance — it would be Bears #1 (draw 500,000 fans for 8 games), Cubs #2 (draw 2.9 million for 81 games), Bulls/Blackhawks #’s 3/4 (they both draw about 900,000 for about 40 games), White Sox #5(draw 1.9 million for 81 games), Fire # 6(draw 210,000 for 15 games) and Wolves # 7 (draw 240,000 for about 40 games).

        I think everyone agrees that the Bears are #1 and I will say baseball is more popular than hockey, basketball and soccer. In Chicago baseball, the Cubs are more popular.

  • Tremendous Slouch

    Simply put Cubs gear just isn’t astetically pleasing… I’ve been hoping for an overhaul, but unfortunately tradition will probably never allow it… Would be a great way to further develop their new identitiy though… Would love to see them bring back the dark blue and white look… Now that’s a jersey I would purchase!

    Shutting down the Queer Eye now!

  • Jacob

    Jed Hoyer was just on MLB Network Radio.. Here were his comments, sort of paraphrased. Don’t kill me if I messed up a word or two lol.

    – As you can expect, saying that the two Scotts were pretty much flyers and Jackson is a “stabilizer.” He’s durable and came up too early. With his athleticism and age, he still has upside.
    – “Can’t build it (a franchise) up in one year.” Edwin fit into our plans and was on the market now, so we got him.
    – With length of the deal as the question about position players, he said the Cubs are looking at a position player with a ‘similar type of deal’ (As EJax (Michael Bourn?)).
    – When asked directly about Bourn – “Can’t comment on individual free agents.” “Center field is a position both short term and long term that we’ll be looking to improve.”
    – Said that they’re pretty much done adding pitching, now will focus on position players.
    – Looking to mold after the A’s/Orioles and build while contending. Won’t look past any one year, but will focus on making moves that improve the future. Won’t make moves that hurt the future for 2013.
    – Asked where he wants to see improvement – Wants to really draw out AB’s and see middle relievers in the 6th and 7th innings. That’s how you “really beat teams up.” Wants teams to feel like it’s a battle to face the Cubs.
    – Asked how close prospects are too getting a look this year – “most talented minor leaguers won’t be read for a look.” “organization did a lot of talent over the course of the year.”

    He repeatedly mentioned how they liked the position player depth in the minors, and were very dry in the pitching department.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Jacob. Great stuff. The Bourn responses are particularly interesting.

      • Jacob

        When he answered the question it seemed as if they were in on him, and then later on he was talking about how they won’t make a move this offseason that hurts their future. It really threw me for a loop. I was left having no idea where he stood on it, which was probably his intention lol.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yeah. Sounds like vintage Theo/Jed.

        • David

          I don’t see why Bourn would be a move that hurts their future.

          • David

            Especially not with a Jackson like contract.

      • King Jeff

        That seems like a situation where he would deny it if the Cubs weren’t at least considering Bourn. I don’t see many other free agent position players worth a multi-year deal. I really hope they aren’t talking about Betancourt again.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Maybe. I’m just not sure they choose to give *anything* away in either direction. That is to say: I’m not sure he would have denied it. But he didn’t have to say the “short-term, long-term” stuff, or the stuff about looking for a guy in the same range as Edwin Jackson.

          Very intriguing. Gonna have to try and find some audio on that one so I can listen for every pause, cough, and “um.” Know who he was on with, Jacob?

          EDIT: Never mind – I see he was on First Pitch.

          • Jacob

            Yeah, it was on First Pitch with Memolo and Hollandsworth. If you have to go back in time on the website to view it, it was around 9:40 when the interview started.

            • Jacob

              I definitely meant 8:30, my bad lol.

        • Jacob

          The topic of the conversation were pieces, like EJax, that they would offer longer deals to that they could build around and compete with. I really hope they don’t consider Betancourt somebody like that…

    • King Jeff

      Nice, thanks Jacob.

  • Rich S

    As a donatee to the Bleacher Nation, I am happy to donate $ or my playlist for a change do the podcast music…Sounds like an introductory video on a back safety session from UPS…


    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I like that song. :)

      It could probably stand to have the digital whirring sounds shorter and the “kick” into the rock music sooner, though. Maybe I’ll talk to our engineer.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Half the city is Cub fans. Half the city is Sox fans. Everyone is a Bears fan.

    • ssckelley

      You think it is 50/50? I have always thought of Chicago as a Cubs town when it came to baseball, but then again I am biased and do not live in Chicago.

      • hardtop

        prior to 2005, the ratio was 80/20. no shit.

    • JB88

      I don’t believe there is a 50/50 split between Cubs and Sox. Amongst serious baseball fans, I’d probably put it at 52/48 Cubs +/- 2. Amongst casual fans, however, I think that number skyrockets to around 65/35 Cubs. And depending on the success of the season, I think that number could balloon even further in favor of the Cubs.

      • Tom

        Based on paying fans attending games in 2012, it was 60% Cubs (2.9 million) and 40% White Sox (1.9 million).

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Even that is an underestimate: for all the talk of empty seats late last season, the Cubs have a lot more sellouts than do the ChiSox: or, properly scaled, a lot more games with 35+K tickets sold. (That is ChiSox fans would not fill up a park with Wrigley’s capacity as often as Cubs fans do.)

          Outside of Chicago, it’s a no-brainer: but that’s a separate issue.

    • Shawon O’Meter

      Let me cut through that enormous net you are casting, my friend. I am a devoted Cubs fan from the womb and have loathed the Bears almost as long. I know many Cubs fans who are not Bears fans too. I understand your point but had to make it known that you will never see me walk hand in hand in allegiance with a Sox fan…lol. By the way, skol, Vikings, skol!!!

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        lol, everyone is so literal.

      • ssckelley

        You from Chicago? Every person I have talked to that is from Chicago is either a Sox or Cubs fan but all of them were Bears fans.

  • Beer Baron

    If I’m not mistaken, with the previous CBA there was a date after which type A free agents who were still unsigned could be signed without losing the draft pick. I actually tried to read through the new CBA but couldn’t find anything like that in this version – does something like that exist ? Or am I mis-remembering the last CBA? If there isn’t a “free date”, some of these guys may not actually have a job next year – for example, look at LaRoche. The market for 1B is somewhat limited to begin with, throw in his age, salary demands and the fact that he costs a 1st round pick (or 2nd) and he likely may not have a job next year (which is why he should have accepted the qualifying offer). Point is, if there is a date after which the Cubs can sign guys without penalty, they should look at Lohse and Soriano on 1 year deals – even if they over pay – flip them and then next year they are free to sign elsewhere.

  • mudge

    Love the Cubs, like the Sox, hate football altogether.

  • Josh

    A lot of the apparel sales have to do with the fact that it is NFL and NBA season. I would bet the Bears still sell the most but get stats from the summer and my money says that the Cubs would be the best selling

  • james

    I had a question, I was hopeing somebody could explain to me. It came up earlier is if the Cubs sign Rafael Soriano they would lose a second round pick and the cash for that pick. If they were to sign Bourn after that the Cubs wouldn’t lose a third round pick would they. If they wouldn’t lose a pick then there in much better shape then other teams correct. So the Cubs could sign Bourn and Soriano for another team then trade them away for prospects if they wanted. The Cubs could get prospects back and the team that they were traded to wouldn’t lose in draft picks. Can someone please tell me that is correct.

  • http://www.authorlyleernst.webs.com Lyle Ernst

    I agree with Josh. And, in my opinion, if you count sales all over the country the Cubs will be #1 by far.

  • Pingback: Jed Hoyer Speaks: Free Agents and Future Competitiveness, Outfield Configuration, Bourn, Garza | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • JR

    Yeah the compensation thing really screws some free agents, especially a guy like R. Soriano. If a team is picking between 10-20 in 1st round I would have a hard time giving up that pick. Brett, do you think the Cubs would have still signed EJax if they would have had to give up their 2nd round pick? I’m not so sure they would have. Good thing he made Washington promise not to make a qualifying offer to sign last year.

  • Pingback: Theo Epstein Speaks: Organizational Changes, Draft Pick Compensation, Use of Payroll, Rizzo, Jackson, More | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Muck

    I gave up on jerseys cuz everyone i got, the guy just left. Theriot, Lee, Zambrano, Colvin.

    • Njriv

      Yeah I have one jersey, Soriano, I got it for my birthday in 2007 when he signed that long deal, which was a smart move to buy a jersey of a player you new was going to be there for a while. On the other hand, I have a bin filled with Cubs shirts of old players. I only have three now, Soriano, Castro and I just recently got a Rizzo shirt for Christmas. I think the smartest move is to either buy a older shirt/jersey like Sandberg, Maddux, Jenkins, Santo or buy a personalized jersey. I know they might be more expensive, but you can wear them a lot longer than a player that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

  • Xavier

    Check out the trade rumors in the message board. My proposal speaks for itself.

  • Xavier
    • Adam

      Keep doing what you’re doing Professor Xavier. It always gives me a fantastic laugh.

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