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respect wrigleyAlthough today’s Landmarks Commission meeting outcome went as planned – the Chicago Cubs’ outfield signage plan, including a JumboTron in left field and a see-through sign in right field, was approved unanimously – it did not come without drama. Why would it?

Despite an overnight report that the Cubs and Alderman Tom Tunney had come to a compromise on the size of the signage, it seems the only agreement that was struck came between the Cubs and the City of Chicago. That agreement, which saw Mayor Emanuel’s office supporting the Cubs’ signage plan, probably netted the Cubs the approval they received from the Landmarks Commission today, but may have cost them any chance of maintaining Alderman Tunney’s support through what remains of the approval process.

The approved signage is as follows, according to Crain’s Danny Ecker who ably covered the entire five hour ordeal: a 5,700 square foot sign in left field, a large portion of which is the video board, and smaller portions of which are a neon sign on top and lights (that’s why there was some confusion about the size of the JumboTron – the entire sign size is the total size of the video board and the other parts); a 650 square foot see-through sign in right field. The Cubs had requested 6,000 and 1,000 square feet, respectively. So, they just about got what they wanted on the JumboTron, but compromised significantly on the right field sign.

According to those in attendance, Tunney strenuously objected to the Cubs’ plan to erect a large video board in left field and a smaller see-through advertising sign in right field, primarily because he believes it will negatively affect the quality of life for his constituents. Nevertheless, the Commission approved the Cubs’ two outfield signs. I’m sure we’ll get more details – and quotes – by tomorrow.

I am not interested in lazy, black-and-white stories that paint one side as a hero and another side as a villain, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to portray Tunney as anything other than the very thing he says he isn’t: a lap dog for the rooftop owners. To suggest that the reason to oppose the Cubs erecting signs within Wrigley Field – the light from which will presumably be far outweighed by the lights that, you know, already light up the field – is because it could negatively affect those who live right next to the ballpark is borderline absurd. The residents of whom he’s speaking – and I don’t mean the rooftops – chose to live right next to Wrigley Field. We’re not talking about families that live blocks and blocks away and have slowly felt the encroachment of the “Wrigleyville culture” over the years. I can barely believe that Tunney advanced this argument with a straight face, let alone with what was reported to be voice-quivering passion.

The Cubs have gone to extreme lengths to ensure that the new outfield signs block as little of the rooftop views as possible, despite the fact that Cubs General Counsel Mike Lufrano said, per Ecker, that “Our agreement with the rooftops does not prohibit signage in our outfield.” The Cubs, by all accounts, are really trying here. Even the rooftops have softened the rhetoric in recent weeks. Only Tunney seems to remain intransigent.

From here, the Wrigley renovation plan will go to the Plan Commission – another arm of City Council whose members are appointed by the Mayor, like the Landmarks Commission – before proceeding to the full City Council. Given the fight Tunney has now put up about the signage, the outfield wall bump-out, and various hotel and plaza issues, we can fairly expect he will be present at every remaining step, opposing the Cubs’ plan (I anticipate the hotel and plaza details to be particularly contentious). While Tunney’s opposition isn’t necessarily going to be a problem, it is historically atypical for a significant development project to make it through City Council without the support of the alderman in whose ward the project sits.

In this instance, though, it’s hard to see the Mayor and the rest of City Council preventing the Cubs’ plan, which represents a $500 million, privately-funded project for the City of Chicago – and, not to mention, keeps one of the largest tourist attractions in the city in good shape – all because Tunney isn’t on board.

Put it this way: I have, for many months, been among the strongest voices in say that there is no way the Cubs would or should consider leaving Wrigley Field, and there’s no way the City would let that happen. If Tunney and City Council torpedoed the renovation deal when comes before full City Council? I know that my tone changes, and I can’t help but wonder if the same wouldn’t be true for the Ricketts. They’ve negotiated a deal in which they’ve bent over backwards to be accommodating. And if Chicago doesn’t make that deal happen? What choice will the Cubs have? At that point, how could they not credibly threaten to leave?

Fortunately, that’s why I’m pretty sure it won’t come to that.

For today – well, for tonight, by the time the meeting closed – this is very good news. Although there are steps ahead, the outfield signage was always likely to be the toughest battle for the Cubs. The Landmarks Commission says it’s OK by them, and it’s hard to see City Council disagreeing. The Mayor’s Office now appears to be firmly on the Cubs’ side, so I remain optimistic that the next steps will all go as planned, and the necessarily approvals will be in place in time for the Cubs to start work on the renovation as soon as this season ends.

  • King Jeff

    A little bit of education on how Tunney really views “quality of life” in Wrigleyville that was shared with me on twitter today.
    http://424tales.blogspot.com/2010/05/cut-crap-tunney.html

    • MoneyBoy

      Jeff … you really have to be a little more open with your opinions about that MO RON

  • Mrcub1958

    Thank, Brett. Good news.

  • Eternal Pessimist

    I can already feel the revenue…

  • James Covington

    Tunney is so beholden to the Rooftop Owners that any “support” he “pledges” to the Cubs should be automatically be regarded as suspect and untrustworthy.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Thanks for the update Brett.

    But wow…Clown Tunney is not a man of his word. You literally can’t do business with the man because he flip flops on agreements left and right. Can’t wait for elections season to come so this guy can’t get dethroned. I hope the Cubs write a big check to who ever he’s going to run against for alderman.

  • aCubsFan

    Well in the AP report that is everywhere, Tunney opposed the signage in part because he would be able to watch the game for his home a mile away. At least one commissioner chastised Tunney for his opposition.

  • Spoda17

    eff that guy… I hate weak politicians

  • NextYear

    You’d think Tunney would want the Cubs as an ally. I really don’t understand it.

    • MoneyBoy

      I’d like to recommend you read King Jeff’s link!!! He makes a very good point about Tooney (think Looney Tunes) being two faced when it came to the Toyota sign AND the monstrosity of a mixed use hotel on the south east corner of Addison and Clark.

      It’s not mentioned but one can wonder how much would flow from the coffers of the developers to Tooney’s various business interests.

  • caryatid62

    While this is good news–I think it’s important for Cubs fans to also hold the owners accountable to their promises that an increase in revenue will be put into the team. The ballpark will no longer be a crutch the owners can rely upon to say “we don’t have the resources other teams have.”

    With this step, the Cubs will have both one of the highest ticket prices in the game as well as the same type of advertising revenue all “modern” teams have. If they don’t have the highest payroll in the division, and one of the highest in the NL (outside of NY and LA) in the coming 2-3 years, then we all just got played.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Because (I) arbitrarily spending money just because you have it and (II) major league payroll is the only way to invest in a baseball team?

      • caryatid62

        Yeah, that’s exactly what I wrote.

      • aCubsFan

        There’s more to revenue than gate receipts and sponsorship through advertising. TV contract and advertising signage are tied to one another. It’s all about the number of eyeballs that see the ads on TV. That’s why they spelled out all the types of potential signage. It’s also why they needed this settled and approved ASAP. The Cubs need to know what they could be getting in order to use that for their TV contract negotiations.

        And, to answer gocatsgo2003’s questions. No, you don’t spend like a drunken sailor just because you have money that’s what happened until the Sam Zell Tribune days and it led to nowhere positive for which the Cubs are playing for now. No, the major league roster is not the only way to improve the major league product.

        It’s why they are investing in the D.R. and spring training facilities and player facilities at Wrigley. It’s why they are making huge investments in amateur and international players. It’s why they expanded their scouting department. It’s why they put cameras at all their minor league ball parks.

    • DarthHater

      A rational approach would be to wait and see how the new revenue streams develop and how the new revenue is spent. Then, if any significant amounts of new revenue are not being invested in improving the product on the field, complain to management that they are not keeping their promise.

      An irrational, juvenile approach would be to jump from the fact that a jumbotron and a couple of advertising signs just got through one stage of a multi-stage approval process to the conclusion that the Cubs must have one of the five highest player payrolls in all baseball within 2-3 years or else they’re a bunch of liars.

      • Kyle

        I feel like the rational approach should be asking where the revenue went in the last few years and why they need new revenues just to get to old spending levels. And not taking vague references to “unsustainable” as fact.

        • DarthHater

          I feel like the rational approach should involve worrying about the future and that bitching about the past few years’ revenue is even more juvenile than pre-emptively bitching about a failure to meet a made-up future payroll level.

          • caryatid62

            Actually, using past behavior to question current motives and plans is rational. Laying out expectations is rational.

            Preemptively equivocating and laying out excuses in between posting patently unfunny gifs is juvenile.

            • Kyle

              Look, we can disagree here without attacking the GIFs.

              • DarthHater

                Thank you, Kyle. Now I love you again and feel bad for what I said.

              • caryatid62

                The GIFs are stupid. I avoid them in every thread.

                I don’t really care about them enough to comment further on them.

                • ssckelley

                  Moar gifs puhleez!

                • DarthHater

                  Good. Please stop.

            • DarthHater

              [img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3770/9266756786_083ef2fb9e_o.jpg[/img]

            • Cubbie Blues

              They are not all unfunny gifs, some of them are jpegs.

              • DarthHater

                I am unfunny in over six million forms of communication…

        • Hansman1982

          I’m getting déjà vu all over again.

      • Spencer

        I think Cary’s underlying point is that we have heard the refrain for quite some time now that a big reason to get this signage into place is the increase the revenue that goes into baseball operations, e.g. competing for free agents that command big money.

        • DarthHater

          That’s fine. I hope and expect them to be more aggressive in spending on player payroll in the future and I’ll get out my torch and pitchfork with everybody else if they aren’t. But that’s a far cry from me pulling some arbitrary future payroll requirement out of my ass and then warning that there will be hell to pay if the team doesn’t match my fantasy.

          • AlwaysNextYear

            I absolutely love this post.

      • caryatid62

        I look forward to the excuses you’ll make for ownership in 2015.

        They have, through the new CBA, been allowed to make DRAMATIC cuts in spending at all levels in the last 2 years, even with the improvements in the DR and Mesa. They have said that they “need money to compete.”

        But yeah, let’s play more “wait and see.” If they’re sitting at 15 in payroll in 2015 because “we can’t re-negotiate our CSN deal like those other teams can,” I’ll enjoy reading how you carry their water.

        • DarthHater

          The usual bullshit reactive response. I make no excuses, carry no water, and frequently criticize. Waiting to see what happens before you start bitching is not making excuses for the FO, it’s not being an annoying pain in the ass. [begin countdown to inevitable Kool-Aid comment…]

          • caryatid62

            You don’t understand the difference between “bitching” and “setting expectations.”

            Words are important. Their meanings should be understood.

            • DarthHater

              Setting an expectation of using increased future revenue to more aggressively spend on the on-field product makes sense. Setting an expectation of a particular player payroll level within a set period of time does not. That was my point.

              Reading is important. You consider trying it.

              • DarthHater

                I should consider typing better or proofreading before submitting

              • caryatid62

                You still don’t understand the difference between the words you used.

                “Bitching” would be complaining about something that is currently happening or likely to happen. It involves a complaint about a practice. Nowhere in my initial post did I complain about the ownership, nor did I even claim that I thought they wouldn’t spend.
                In my post, I laid out an quantified expectation, based upon their own words, of what I expect to see from them now that they’re likely to get what they asked for. That’s called “setting an expectation.”

                Feel free to equivocate, to “wait and see.” This is a high revenue team that is being given virtually everything it has asked for in terms of advancing revenue streams. There’s nothing wrong with demanding specific benchmarks based upon those revenue streams. The Cubs have a tremendous front office that will obviously maximize the money they are allowed to spend in order to build the best team possible; as a fan, we should be demanding that the ownership give this front office every dollar they should to give the team the best possible chance of a World Series win.

                • DarthHater

                  Got it. Bitching about shit that hasn’t happened yet and might never happen is called “setting an expectation.” Thanks for clarifying.

                  • caryatid62

                    Wow, when your reading skills get called out, you just double down on the defensiveness, don’t you?

                    Feel free to point out the exact words in my original post that complain about something the Ricketts are doing or might do. Take your time.

        • Rebuilding

          I would expect that a Cubs Channel is in the works similar to the Dodgers deal with Warner. Once a portion of the TV deal runs out in 2014 I would imagine that they and Comcast will work it out and roll it out in 2015. That will make the revenues from the Jumbotron look like couch pennies

          • Northside Neuman

            The TV deal that expires post 2014 is with WGN, not Comcast. The Comcast deal doesn’t end until after 2019.

        • ssckelley

          Just because the Cubs are not sending money on payroll it does not mean they are not spending money to improve the organization. I see them spending money on international players even though they pay 100% luxury tax.

          When the renovations get paid for and when they are able to negotiate a new TV contract (Cubs Network perhaps?) the Cubs will be able to print money. They will be able to spend like the Dodgers if they want and have a damn good farm system backing it up. The Cubs future looks bright and these ticky tacky negotiations will soon be a mere footnote.

          • caryatid62

            The amount the Cubs will pay in IFA, taxes included, is roughly the equivalent of what Los Angeles is paying Juan Uribe this year. Meanwhile, their MLB payroll is down dramatically.

            I simply want to see the spending on the major league roster match what they’re telling us is possible when these improvements are made. I’m not claiming they will or they won’t, but that’s what I expect.

            • ssckelley

              You do realize the Dodgers just got a huge TV contract don’t you? The Dodgers are friggin loaded right now.

              • caryatid62

                It has nothing to do with the Dodgers.

                Would you prefer a non-LA example?

                The Cubs IFA spending this season is equivalent to what Kansas City has to pay recently-released Jeff Francoeur.

                It’s great that they’re spending it, but let’s not make it out to be more than what it is: a drop in the bucket.

                • ssckelley

                  You even a Cub fan?

                  Your the one using the Dodgers to back up your point, horrible comparison. The Cubs do not have access to that kind of revenue, not yet. They are getting there, this stadium stuff is just a small step towards that.

                  The Cubs are a business and the owners have every right to determine how much they want to spend and how much they want to profit. I would not expect the Ricketts to operate the Cubs in the red.

                  • caryatid62

                    You really don’t understand the reason for the comparison.

                    You trumpeted the Cubs spending a lot in the International Free Agent market as an evidence of them spending money.

                    I used comparisons to show that the amount the Cubs are spending on the International Free Agent amount, while a lot in terms of what they’re allowed to spend (per the CBA) is not very much in terms of what baseball teams spend on players at the major league level. The point is that spending a lot in the International Free Agent market does not equal spending a lot as a major league baseball team.

                    Make sense?

                    • Chase S.

                      No

                  • James

                    When have the cubs ever ran in the red? I wasnt aware.

                • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

                  What is your point with Jeff Francoeur? The current Cub ownership has eaten far more cash (bad contracts). That experience may be a nice learning curve on how not to tie up major league playing slots with old players. No more PED’s/roids old is back to 32-33.

                  • caryatid62

                    The point (as I explained above) is that you can’t claim that $7 million in IFA money is “spending,” when in reality, it’s a small amount when compared to a MLB roster. $7 million is two major league average salaries.

            • Rebuilding

              The extra $30 million or so that used to go to payroll is now going to payoff debt. It’s chicken or egg whether the “plan” caused payroll to sink or payroll had to sink hence the “plan”. We’ve argued it over a million times, but it is what it is. It’s all fairly irrelevant if we get a Cubs Channel because we’ll then have revenues on a par with the Yankees and the Dodgers and I would expect a similar payroll if necessary (we will have so many cost controlled players in 2015-16 it might be impossible to spend that much).

              • caryatid62

                The “Cubs Channel” is a great idea, assuming that the monetization value of live sports through advertising doesn’t change between now and 2019. I want to see them get that channel, but I’m worried that within the next 6 years, the means by which we consume live sports might change to a more online system that mitigates the individual value of any one team’s channel. I really, really hope that doesn’t happen (for the Cubs sake), but I really, really hope that happens (for selfish reasons as a person who only has cable TV for sports and would prefer to pay less for just baseball).

                • Rebuilding

                  I am pretty confident we’ll get a Cubs Channel in 2015 after the WGN deal runs out. Since Comcast is in the position of being the cable provider as well as partner in CSN they can make it happen. I would assume that Reinsdorf and Wirtz wouldn’t mind more programming on their teams and will prob be bought off or given an ownership stake in the new network through 2019

              • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

                Who buys a business any business without such business paying off the purchase?

              • Timmy

                This is correct, payroll has been substantially cut. “Debt” is to themselves, from their own bank account, so this is a pretty highly arbitrary thing. Basically they just wanted to keep $30m for themselves, probably put to lawsuits against Lakeview and conservative propaganda.

            • DarthHater

              So you’re saying we would be better off if we were paying $8 million to a guy with a sub-.300 career OBP?

              • AlwaysNextYear

                That’s my take. I don’t understand the mindset to pay these almost over the hill players to contracts like “Hendry” just to be a semi competitive team. That was a losing formula this is new and something that we have not seen before. I fully expect with everything in the future thats happening when the youngsters start coming up the ownership and FO will let the money loose to plug in the free agents as needed and extend or retain the current players that deserve it.

                • caryatid62

                  If we all believe that the Cubs’ front office is one of the best in baseball, why do you think that, with more money to spend, they’ll just piss it away on terrible players? Do you have that little confidence in Epstein, Hoyer, et. al.?

                  • Tobias

                    I have no more confidence in Theo/Jed/McCloud anymore. Did you read what happened in the Iowa game? Ian Stewart homered to put his team up. How can the 3 amigos get away with cutting players that always come back to haunt us? Remember Lloyd McClendon when he was cut back in 1990 and had a resurgence a year later. I understand that it wasn’t the 3 amigos decision, but I still blame them. McClendon had the BFW+ (Bellyfire Wins Plus) that was good for 5th All-time in Cubs history behind Tyler Colvin, Bryan LaHair, Julio Zuleta, Reed Johnson, and Tony Campana. We traded him to Pittsburgh who fleeced them years later by raiding the can’t miss prospect Bobby Hill. Fire Theo!!!!!!

                  • AlwaysNextYear

                    What are you talking about. I’m wondering where you looked to make that assumption

                    • AlwaysNextYear

                      Tobias that was not meant for you. Sorry

                    • Tobias

                      It’s called sarcasm.

                    • AlwaysNextYear

                      I know I meant the comment for Cary not you

                  • Rebuilding

                    My friend, we have had these arguments a million times over. Could the Cubs have spent more or not, should we have tried to compete while rebuilding, etc. at this point the ship has already sailed…the FO/ownership decided to cut payroll, strip it down and completely rebuild. Will it work? We all hope so. And I promise you this, if we get to 2015-16 and all of the new revenues are online and we aren’t increasing payroll to compete, then I think all of the people you are arguing with will be just as mad as you about it.

                    • caryatid62

                      Who said I’m mad about anything? All I did was quantify what I think a fair expectation is for the team, financially-speaking, within 2-3 years once the revenue streams they’ve claimed they’ve needed to compete are coming through.

                      I think, based upon the revenue streams, within 2-3 years fans should expect this team to have the highest payroll in the NL Central and one of the highest payrolls in the national league, and I trust that, if they have that, Epstein and Hoyer will spend the money in a manner that makes this a perennial playoff team.

                    • caryatid62

                      To continue, more specifically:

                      They have elite prospects at 1 infield position (Baez) and 2 outfield positions (Almora and Soler). If 2 of the 3 become all-star caliber players, that’s a win.

                      Now, it’s 2015. Here’s what they’re looking at:

                      Let’s say Castro returns to his borderline All-Star Level and Rizzo does as well. That puts above average to great players at 1B, SS, 2B/3B (assuming Baez moves), and RF. Almora and Bryant are still a year away. That’s cheap production at 4-5 positions. They would still need to pay for production at C, either 2B or 3B, and at least LF.

                      According to fangraphs, to get league average players (+2 WAR), you need roughly $10 million on the Free Agent market. So if the Cubs need three league average or above position players in free agency, that’s likely to cost somewhere around $30 million.

                      Given their lack of talent in the minor league pitching realm, they’ll need at least two starters (maybe 3), at least one of whom is elite. The minimum for an elite starter would be $15 million, plus around $10 million for a good to great #2/#3. There’s another $25 million. Meanwhile, Samardzija will need a new contract by that point ($15-18 million), and Wood will be in arbitration (maybe $8-10 million).

                      That means, in order to develop an elite team by 2015 based upon the current team and likely call ups, the MINIMUM outlay on free agents just to field a starting 9 and 5-man rotation will be $80-100 million, and likely higher. And that’s before you think about a bullpen, a bench, and the likely inflation in the market between now and then. And that’s BEFORE we consider the money currently being paid to players like Edwin Jackson, Rizzo, and Castro.

                      The reality is that, for this team to be a legitimate World Series contender by 2015-2016, lots of money will have to be spent. Frankly, they’ll need to be the highest payroll in the NL Central to keep up with the talent discrepancies between them and the Cardinals.

                    • hansman1982

                      “According to fangraphs, to get league average players (+2 WAR), you need roughly $10 million on the Free Agent market.”

                      Since 2007, GM’s have spent closer to $11M to obtain an actual 1 WAR per FA signing. The only contracts that come out decent are 1-2 year deals and the mega-deals (even they only hit about 50% of the time).

            • Eternal Pessimist

              The amount that the Dodgers pay in IFA, including taxes, doesn’t cover Soriano’s contract either, does it?

    • Mrcub1958

      Cary, have you missed the $$$ being spent on the the 2013 and international drafts? They’re accountable.

      • Kyle

        Lower payroll by $30m

        Spend about the same in IFA and amateur draft as you did in 2011.

        Get credit for spending?

        • BT

          If that payroll was, by virtually all accounts including the people signing the previous checks, higher than than a normal sustainable payroll would be for a team that wasn’t inflating it in order to sell it, then yes, you do get credit.

          I spent an extra 25-30 grand fixing up my kitchen and the rest of my house this year. Does that mean my spending budget for my house should include that 25-30 grand every year going forward? If I spend only 5-10 grand fixing the roof next year, does that mean my budget went down by 20 grand or does it mean it went up by 5-10 grand over my normal spending from last year?

          comparing the Cubs payroll to an arbitrary year is meaningless.

          • Kyle

            Any talk that the Cubs’ spending was unsustainable is self-interested horsehockey. Their revenues were completely capable of handling it.

            • caryatid62

              GIFS: Unfunny.

              Unironic use of “horsehockey”: Hilarious.

            • BT

              When you looked at the books, were you able to xerox anything, or did you commit the stuff to memory? I just ask because I wonder why, even though the team was selling out and “completely capable of handling it”, they still managed to backload virtually every contract they signed someone to. I realize they were rolling in the dough, but yet they still didn’t seem capable of meeting obligations in the present, so they pushed them off to the future. Since you have clear knowledge of their finances, I’ve been dying to know, why the backloaded contracts (thanks in advance for clearing this up, can’t tell you how excited I am to find someone with this sort of info!).

              • Kyle

                It’s simply a matter of paying attention. MLB teams operate in a highly public sphere, and most everything you need to reconstruct the books leaks out in some form or another.

                Backloading contracts is *always* smart. It lowers the actual value paid out.

                • BT

                  Yes, it’s always smart, which is why players don’t like it, which is why to get them to sign onto a back loaded contract you have to up the overall value of the contract because it turns out they have agents with calculators too.

                  And your highly public sphere falls apart when you start trying to figure out anything other than contracts and ticket prices. To this day no one has any real idea what the Cubs are getting from WGN or Comcast, and every time Forbes ( who I think pays attention) comes out with their valuations, to a team every organization says their numbers might as well be picked at random.

                  • Kyle

                    Of course the teams say that. It is very much in their interest to obfuscate.

                    The Chicago Tribune reported that “sources close to the situation” estimate the Cubs receive about $60m a year from WGN/Comcast combined. Is that down to the penny? Probably not. But I bet it’s in a very small ballpark.

                    • Rebuilding

                      It’s pretty easy to figure out all of the Cubs finances. My understanding is that they make approx $600,000 per game on TV (as a reference point the new Dodger deal is $1.6 mil per game). We know what the attendance is and the average ticket price. We know the average amount each fan spends on food, beer and souvineers. We know what their payroll, draft expenses, IFA money is. Those are all of the biggies. The Forbes article probably has it pretty close and the $32 million “profit” is being used to pay debt and just so happens to be almost exactly how much we have cut payroll

            • JulioZuleta

              I presume that you saw the books? Not to go all “insider” (hate when people try to do that) but I am friends with a guy that was VERY (very, very) high up in the org at one point and they were under strict instructions to increase marketability for the sale of the team. I think Jim Hendry was an awful GM, but I never put the Soriano signing on him because I know that he did not want to do it.

              • JulioZuleta

                I don’t know exactly hoe inflated things were, but I do know that there was some extra spending going on.

              • Kyle

                It’s more that they diverted spending. There’s no doubt that, for example, Ricketts has significantly changed the balance between MLB payroll and amateur spending. We’ve gone from one extreme to another in that regard.

                • JulioZuleta

                  Then maybe what Ricketts was saying when he said those MLB payrolls were unsustainable was essentially: “We are going to spend WAY more on development than the previous ownership. In light of that increase, we will have to lower the MLB payroll.”

                  It would make sense if he was saying, “Since we are paying an extra $10-15M a year on the amateur side, the MLB payroll will take a hit.” I don’t see anything wrong with that.

                  Also, I think you take the whole “operate in a public sphere” thing way too far. Sure, you can tell a lot about what’s going on with most teams from a far, but to sit back and say you can accurately describe the financial situation of a Billion dollar company is a little naïve.

                  • Kyle

                    *shrug* I put in the time, the results add up, I’m confident in them. Others choose to put up their hands and say “We can’t know!” and that works for them.

                    The problem is that it’s not just reallocation. The total spent on players, both MLB and amateurs, is down by quite a bit compared with 2010/2011. It looks like the difference is the interest on the debt that we took on as part of the Trib-friendly sales agreement.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      Do you know how profitable the Cubs were in the years that the payroll was in the 140M range?

                    • Kyle

                      Not off the top of my head, but I don’t believe they were losing money. People seriously underestimate the heftiness of the Cubs’ revenue streams, especially when they are doing well.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      Maybe they weren’t losing money, but maybe they were barely making any. I don’t think any fans would fault Ricketts for wanting a minimum return each year. Also, you say that you put in the work and the numbers “add up,” but again, you’ve never actually seen the books, so how could you know that they add up?

                    • Rebuilding

                      Ricketts has said many times that all revenue goes into “baseball operations”. So there is no return per se. Until recently it wasn’t clear whether that included debt payments. It is now clear that it does

                    • ssckelley

                      But the difference is they are not spending money just to spend it. They took a step back so they could move the organization further. When the front office spends money they are looking to spend either on flippable assets or players that can help them when they expect to win.

                      I don’t think it is reasonable to expect the Cubs to have a 200 million dollar payroll unless they have a farm system that can keep them winning. The question is if this strategy will payoff. It all depends on how well these prospects pan out that they have acquired along with these high draft picks and international signings.

                    • Kyle

                      We have, for example, seen other MLB teams’ books, so we know what the numbers should look like. We know what revenue streams exist and we know what expenses exist, and we have very good estimates/reports on what each of those numbers is.

                      I don’t believe this is profit-taking by Ricketts, anyway. The lowered spending appears to be the result of the sale structure with the Tribune, where Ricketts took on debt that he can only pay the interest on in order to give the Tribune tax benefits, and also is not allowed to deficit spend in any given fiscal year. It looks to me like he hoped to make up for this handicap with a quick Wrigley renovation, but as we’ve all seen, that didn’t come through.

                    • Kyle

                      “But the difference is they are not spending money just to spend it. They took a step back so they could move the organization further. When the front office spends money they are looking to spend either on flippable assets or players that can help them when they expect to win.”

                      I think you are incorrect if you believe this is some sort of voluntary gambit by the front office. They aren’t spending more money right now because more is not available to them. No more or less.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      I’m not saying you’re wrong btw, I’m just saying there’s no way that you can be positive that you’re right. Anyways, after today, the purse strings should loosen a little bit. Big step in the right direction.

                    • Rebuilding

                      Theo himself said that they had spent all they could this year and payroll was “maxed out”

                    • Kyle

                      “I’m not saying you’re wrong btw, I’m just saying there’s no way that you can be positive that you’re right. Anyways, after today, the purse strings should loosen a little bit. Big step in the right direction.”

                      Well, all I’m putting behind this is my message-board reputation. I’m sufficiently certain for that.

        • ssckelley

          Are the numbers about the same from last year to this one? I have not bothered to look and you usually keep an eye on this sort of stuff.

          • Kyle

            MLB payroll + amateur spending is up, but we aren’t building a dominican academy anymore. Looks like roughly a wash, depending on how many more IFAs we sign.

            • ssckelley

              So I don’t see what everyone is complaining, I don’t see payroll getting cut and the money they are spending is going towards their farm system. Except Cary expects the Cubs to spend like the Dodgers.

              • Kyle

                Because in 2012 and 2013, we spent about $130m on combined MLB payroll + amateur acquisitions. In 2010 and 2011, it was about $160m.

                • Whiteflag

                  Forgive me if I am wrong, but Ricketts didn’t make the budget for 2010 or 2011, right? So could it be that the tribune inflated spending for selling purposes, and that extra $30 million was unsustainable? Maybe, they need that money to go to debt repayment because of how the deal was structured. If they kept payroll at $160 million, and still put $30 million to the debt maybe they’d be operating in the red. I don’t really know, but that would be my guess.

                  • Kyle

                    Ricketts did, in fact, make the budget for 2011.

                    • Whiteflag

                      I couldn’t remember if they purchased the team in ’09 or ’10. Well that kinda throws that thought out the window.

              • Caryatid62

                Seriously, did you actually read what I wrote, or do you just enjoy arguing against strawmen?

                • ssckelley

                  Yep, and I did not find it worthy of a response.

                  • Caryatid62

                    If you can’t understand my point, feel free to ignore it, but don’t claim I made an argument I didn’t make.

      • caryatid62

        With the slotting system, they’re essentially locked in to an amount. And even with their overpend in IFA, it’s still only the equivalent of a backup catcher.

        • AlwaysNextYear

          Your just sounded foolish now with the same comments over and over.

    • MoneyBoy

      The amount of money spent on payroll is completely irrelevant to the results. At the behest of that moron Zell, Hendry handed out bad contracts and no-trade clauses like they were Halloween candy.

      Add to that the ridiculous terms Ricketts had to accept in order to buy the team (the Tribune Co. tax breaks now declared invalid by the IRS) they were hamstrung. If the influx of young talent begins to pop late next year, it may well mean a steady stream of cost controlled talent.

      Results are everything … EH&Co have made that clear from the start.

      • MoneyBoy

        Oopsie … let me add … just about all of what I wrote here is opinion … though I think I got some of it right!!

    • Chase S.

      Hey, I found the end to this conversation!

  • Spencer

    Hooray!!

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    Be glad Tunney isn’t Robert Moses powerful…then the Cubs would have something to worry about.

  • Patrick W.

    Does anybody think the JumboTron™ will play (insert some non sequitur because I’m just trolling for an argument so I can complain about the ownership even though I apparently don’t accept who the actual owners are)?

  • Cheryl

    The rational approach may be to wait until its all done – signed, sealed and delivered.

    • DarthHater

      There you go making excuses for ownership again, Cheryl! Sheesh!

  • MichiganGoat

    Why is that when we get good news in the evening the pages breaks down into arguing over and over.

    • Cubbie Blues

      No it doesn’t. :lol:

      • DarthHater

        That’s not an argument, it’s a contradiction.

    • DarthHater

      The Cubs signed Bryant for slot. — Damn, stupid Cubs overpaid him!

      The Cubs one step closer to increased future revenues. — Damn stupid Cubs will never spend it all!

      • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

        Yep! Damn lets clog the system (block young talent) with high dollar 30+ types and get a top 5 payroll.

        • caryatid62

          Nice strawman.

          • http://www.hookersorcake.com hookersorcake

            Hey Strawman – Who where we supposed to sign for an extra 20-40 million? Who gets the Cubs to the playoffs from last years FA class? Or the year before? Cespedes? Darvish? Those guys turned out pretty good but not many people are gonna blame Theo for not sinking 100+mil into a Japanese pitcher. Cespedes was a good get. We missed on him. So did 28 other teams. We were #2 – not any real consolation. I just don’t see high dollar free agent who would have made us contend.
            My point is there is no real value in high dollar free agents. Why sink 20 million per year into a guy who is gonna only get worse We’ve seen the Cubs get real nice returns on 5 million dollar guys – flip em and get prospects. that plus the IFA and the draft have built a pretty bad farm system into a top 5 system in a couple of years. All those prospects are also how you get good players moving forward. A stacked system can bring in a David Price via trade. Real quality long term stars are very rarely gonna hit the FA market anymore. So how do you get big long term talent? Trades, and extending your own core guys. Cubs didn’t have any ammo to trade, now they do. And plenty of payroll.

            • caryatid62

              I’m not really sure what you’re arguing. I think you’re kinda agreeing with me.

              Expanded payroll absolutely doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend millions on over-the-hill and overrated players. That’s exactly what I’m saying.

              Let’s say they trade for David Price tomorrow. He’ll need an extension next year. He likely won’t take less than $20 million/year (i.e. what Grienke got).

              This really doesn’t have anything to do with Theo, other than the fact that I want him to have as much money as possible in the coming years. I think fans need to hold the organization accountable to dramatically increase the payroll in the coming years, whether that be through thoughtful free agent signings, new deals for their core players, or salaries for the stars they trade their prospects for. Regardless, the payroll’s going to have to go up a lot in the coming years, and my entire initial point was that fans need to demand this in the coming years.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Anyone know if their are any other overslot guys that we drafted this year that we may have a shot to sign? Use were able to sign Clifton. Any other overslot type with upside that we may be able to sign?

    I know we picked Jeremy Martinez (C) in the 48th round but he is strong commit to USC and there is no we can sign him.

    Any chance we sign any of these guys?

    -Marcus Doi (OF), HS ranked in BA’s top 500 (388)
    -Tyler Sciacca
    -Zack Brown, RHP, Seymour High School (IN) BA had Brown ranked 385

    • ssckelley

      Unless they take 100k none of those players will be signed. Doi announced yesterday he is going to college. I heard Martinez was looking for first or second round type money.

    • JeffR

      Tyler Sciacca signed

  • http://Yes Dude

    JBFC. Mooney just said Bryant’s eta is 2016. Lord I hope it doesn’t take him that long.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Dude: I think actually 2016 isn’t out of the question for Bryant’s ETA. Hopefully its something closer to 2015 but I think we need to realize Bryant was facing Kane County level talent in college, which is Low A. So I think he’ll start in Boise this year, and then I think he’ll finish off in Kane County by seasons end.

      Start of 2014: Possibility to start the year in Daytona, spend half the season their if he plays well, and then he gets called up to AA ball in Tennessee and thats where he’ll be truly tested, because thats where the great prospects are at.

      Start 2015: Probably starts off at Tennessee again. Midseason call up to Iowa. And as we all know Theo/Jed like to see players get 500 at bats at Iowa before he gets called up. So 500 AB’s could set him on pace for a 2016 midseason call up.

      This is completely all speculation because we never know how fast a player will develop because some guys develop faster then others. Bryant is a great player but that doesn’t mean he’ll be ready faster then anyone else. Some of the best players in the MLB were in the minors for a while before they were ready to get called up.

    • Dustin S

      He won’t really get much more than a month and a half of basically orientation and getting his feet wet at the low levels this season. A ball only has 7 weeks of baseball left. If you figure at absolute best a half season through the lower levels to AA, then a 1/2 season each at AA and AAA, that’s already mid-2015 and would be very fast. That also assumes no god’s wrath injuries or stumbles along the way. So late 2015 or early 2016 if all goes well is probably pretty realistic. He would have to absolutely destroy at every level for it to be any sooner than that. By mid-next year we should have a lot better idea on his development and potential timeframe though.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Indians, want a starting pitcher controllable past 2013, and Garza isn’t a fit. Sounds like Cransnick talk to a Indians FO member who probably wanted to leak that to try and gain some leverage in Garza negotiation. (well, thats my guess)

    Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports, the Royals aren’t likely to trade Ervin Santana. So thats a positive

    • Tobias

      I could see a scenario where Indians mgmt. gets permission to talk with Garza’s agent.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Tobias: Agreed, I could see Indians being able to speak to Garza’s agent, but I doubt the Indians have the cash needed to extend him. I doubt the Indians want to give Garza 5yrs-$80mil+. Even if the had the money too I doubt they feel comfortable give that much money and length of a contract to Garza who has been a little injury prone of late.

  • Tom A.

    I just can’t feel sorry for Alderman Tunney. It seems his opposition arguments are becoming. truly silly. But, why is nobody lining up with him ? It is strange nobody is lining up with him.

    I am increasingly believing his pockets could be full of something dirty. No way a politician excessively represents the interests of a special interest group (rooftop owners) all alone and against both his largest constituent (Cubs) and so many other constituents (those of us that see the Cubs working hard to compromise), UNLESS there is an incentive so strong that he now may even be risking his political future.

    Things just don’t add up and maybe he will someday have to explain to all of his constituents his peculiar ties with the rooftop owners. And, maybe we will never know any of these possible little secrets.

  • cavemencubbie

    I don’t see much correlation between MLB payroll and a winning team. The Dodgers and Yankees have a huge payroll and aren’t burning up the win column. On the other hand the A’s do pretty well with a relatively low payroll. Spending big money on FA’s is not the answer, even though it may pacify the intellectually challenged, who think we can buy a WS win like a car or a politician.

    • 5412

      HI,

      There is a coorelation between big market teams and those who go deep in the playoffs. Having a large payroll does not guarantee success, you are absolutely right.

      At the same time, having enough revenue to keep your good players and spend the money it takes to keep the farm system developing sure improves the odds of success.

      Hell Tampa is almost like a college team, every four years or so they have a new and younger roster because their good players went elsewhere.

      regards,
      5412

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        Exactly. Professor JC Bradbury drew up a convincing analysis between size of market and success of teams. Like all analysis, there are outliers (Oakland & Tampa) where it takes additional skills and methods to put a good team together.

        Employing both a substantial payroll and logical investments from the bottom, can have improve a teams’ fortunes. As the Cubs, are trying to do a bit of both, while enhancing revenues in the future.

  • 5412

    HI guys,

    I suggest you read the article on Fox Sports. This saga is not over even if the city approves the plan and they get built.

    Nothing prevents the rooftop owners from suing the Cubs for breach of contract for the agreement they have in place with the team. Now one side says they would be biting the hand that feeds them because if the Cubs move they lose their gravy train.

    On the other hand, it could be a lawyer induced shakedown where the rooftop owners file a lawsuit and settle for a specific sum of money. Now that could work if they were willing to void the contract that is in place.

    Point is the signs will go up, but it still has the potential to get ugly with Tunney standing in agreement with those filing the lawsuits, all with their palm extended looking for some more money.

    regards,
    5412

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Lets just hope our lawyers are better then the roof top owners lawyers. I could literally see the cubs just out waiting the rooftop owners in the courts and have thing drawn out for an extended period of time. There are 10 years left on this contract after this season ends, so I wonder how long the Cubs lawyers could draw out this in the courts. I could see thing last multiple years

      • DarthHater

        I seem to recall reading that the contract with the rooftops says that any outfield signage the Cubs put up in the future is okay if it gets all the requisite approvals from the city. If that is correct, then the primary challenge facing the Cubs’ lawyers should be how much they can recover from the plaintiffs in attorney fees.

  • http://vdcinc.biz 70’scub

    Brett, it just seams to me spending money for free agents in baseball unlike the NFL ties the organizations playing slots up for several years. An NFL head coach can cut bad underperforming contracts and replace with younger and/or better preforming contracts during the preseason phase. Me thinks the current Cub FO completely understands this! Add to the fact that baseball is cracking down on older players extending their useful years by taking drugs (PEDS-ROIDS) makes these contracts very risky. Repeat drug use does not void a contract! In MY opinion I rather wait for the Cubs to develop their own Stars and I would see those players win and get paid.

  • Kevin

    Everybody wants to get rich off the Cubs, and, if everything doesn’t go their way, we start to hear about lawsuits. The Cubs have options and, if provoked, the renovations can be done year round with the Cubs playing at Miller Park for 2-3 years. The Cubs deserve better!

  • ssckelley

    “I think you are incorrect if you believe this is some sort of voluntary gambit by the front office. They aren’t spending more money right now because more is not available to them. No more or less.”

    No, I believe the FO is operating within a budget but I don’t think they are throwing around just to spend it.

  • Rebuilding

    With no sell-off I think this team could make it back to .500. Our schedule is easier in the 2nd half

    • ssckelley

      I do to, the Cubs are only a couple of blown saves away from .500 now.

      • Whiteflag

        But does .500 get you into the playoffs? I doubt it.

        • Rebuilding

          No, it doesn’t get you to the playoffs and it shouldn’t stop a sell-off. My point is that this team is a lot better than many expected coming into the season

          • Whiteflag

            That they are. These last few weeks have been awesome.

    • JOE

      Yeah you may be right, but with no sell off we’d be in the same situation next year that we are now… a sub-par team with little talent in the upper levels of the farm system.

    • cubchymyst

      I don’t think they make 0.500 but the chances of them winning around 75 games would be pretty high.

    • Jono

      Theyre above .500 outside the division. Thats a good sign. The NL central is the 2nd toughest in baseball

  • HackAttack

    Do the Cubs have one contract with all the rooftops or is it a individual contracts with the same terms?

    • cms0101

      It’s one agreement with a consortium of the rooftop owners.

  • aCubsFan

    NBC5 reports tonight that it is a certainty that the rooftop owners will file a lawsuit for breach of contract once Planning Commission and City Council approves the Wrigley signage. Beth Murphy claims the right field sign is a big issue with the rooftop owners.

    • JeffR

      If the rooftop owners sue the cubs would people really still go to them? I know I wouldn’t.

      • DarthHater

        You mean you would go to them now? Shame on you.

        • JeffR

          I’ve never been…Thought about it several times until the past year.

    • cms0101

      This is simply the last gasp of a dying group of leeches. If not now, their time will be over soon enough. And the publicity of this ridiculous battle will only hurt their business more. They’ll all eventually go bankrupt and Ricketts will scoop up all of the buildings and figure a way to incorporate them into the park. Fill your lawsuits. Control Tunney like a puppet in every hearing that takes place with his high pitched whining and ridiculous arguments about quality of life.

      • aCubsFan

        After being up on a RT at a vendor party, I just don’t see the hype about them or how they could every be integrated into Wrigley without building the bleachers over the street below.

        The sight lines are already horrible. Anything from mid outfield to the wall is obstructed. If you’re on the right field RTs you can’t see into center to left and if you are on the left field RTs you can’t see into center to right.

  • Jono

    People complain about billionaires a lot. Well, here’s an example of a billionaire who wants to inject $500 million of his own money into the local community, and it’s being RESISTED?! We still have 7.5% unemployment and people are RESISTING job growth? The community of lakeview should be thanking the ricketts and making his investments into their community as easy as possible

    • Kyle

      Ricketts is going to make his investment no matter what. Why shouldn’t the people resist for every possibly concession? He’ll spend his $500m in the end. There’s no real credible threat that he won’t.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Probably.

        But there is a credible threat that the renovations will happen to push the Cubs out of Wrigley for the better part of a season or two. It would not be crushing for Lakeview to lose that economic driver for part of a season or so, but it wouldn’t be pleasant either.

        The harder the neighborhood fights and the longer they delay what appears to be an inevitable renovation by making that fight, the more plausible they make that decision for the Cubs and for MLB.

        Pushing for every concession? Sure. But at some that becomes obstruction for the sake of obstruction, and there is a non-trivial risk those obstructions could result in actual financial harm to those raising the road blocks.

        And I’m not talking about any petty back stabbing by the Cubs here. I’m thinking in terms of in terms of permits, engineering, planning, and purchasing. I imagine if they really wanted to the neighborhood could keep this tied up in the City Council and in the courts until mid-winter at least.

      • Jono

        That’s an awful sense of entitlement.

      • Jono

        Its like someone giving you a ride to the airport, but you don’t like their music so you try controling the musicthe in theirthe car. They’ll give you the ride anyway, but you’d just be dick to someone who is helping you out. Not cool. Put up with the shitty music and say thank you for the ride.

        • Jono

          Not sure why my phone keeps adding “the” to the end of random words

      • aCubsFan

        Well the silly thing is Tunney. He is highly opposing Wrigley renovation. But, when the community recently complained about issues related to the Pride Parade, he says those who are complaining are in the ‘very, very minor minority’ according to an article on DNAinfo.com.

    • Jim L

      “The community of lakeview should be thanking the ricketts and making his investments into their community as easy as possible”

      Now you’ve done it, when Newmanium reads this, you are in big trouble.

    • Timmy

      this is the most trolling comment i’ve ever read anywhere by anyone. or “goating”, what have you. blame entire cities because they’re keeping a billionaire from having his arbitrary way about making even more money at the expense of the city? what is this clockwork orange?

      • Patrick W.

        No it isn’t <- 3.5 word answer to all 3.5 sentences.

        • Timmy

          clockwork patrick w

  • Cheryl

    If the Rooftop owners sue, which seems likely, the Ricketts would probably countersue on some grounds. If they didn’t countersue and lost and the courts forced them back into the “Friendly Confines” as it exists today what then? Tunney is not going away.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I really, really would like to see a copy of that contract with the rooftop owners. I thought there were reports that the language in that contract effectively made a lawsuit by the roof top owners a very difficult proposition at best.

  • Oswego Chris

    Noise out there that D-Backs and Indians may not be in on Garza…my Garza Watch rankings will change tomorrow…

  • Oswego Chris

    Wow…just read an ESPN article ranking pitchers on pure “stuff”…Harvey number 1, but Cubs had Smardzija at 4 and Edwin Jackson(yes, you heard me) at 10…Fernandez, Sale, and Shelby Miller are some of the other names…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Not surprised on either count. The critics get tired of hearing it, but the advanced stats are valid and are not making things up. Jackson really has pitched much, much better this season than his record and ERA indicate.

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