Tom Ricketts Speaks on Cubs Finances and Other Bullets

tom ricketts cubsOh good, more financial discussions …

  • Cubs Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts spoke with Gordon Wittenmyer yesterday, and largely confirmed everything we currently believe about the state of the Cubs’ finances. Give it a read. In short, Ricketts confirms that servicing the debt used to purchase the team does come out of the revenue the Cubs generate (and thus reduces the amount of money available for use by baseball operations), though he cautions that it’s less than we might think. Ricketts says that the baseball budget does not inhibit anything that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer want to do (which, to my ear, conflicts with what Epstein said about spending more at the big league level right now in an ideal world), and the lack of payroll spending right now is merely reflective of The Plan. Once again, you get the sense that big-time spending isn’t likely until the TV deal is re-negotiated, the Wrigley Field renovation is underway, and attendance starts creeping back up (there’s that chicken/egg issue again).
  • None of that surprises me, and, as I wrote earlier in the week, I generally buy it. What’s harder to parse is the language/tone of the article, itself, which has a more dire feel than how the organization paints things. At some level, that’s to be expected, but I keep coming back to: what if it’s simply true that not spending a lot on payroll right now really does make the most sense for everyone involved, given the state of the rebuild and the state of the business operations? Does that mean the same thing as “cheap”? Just as concerns about a lack of wins weren’t going to pop up for me until 2014/2015, concerns about “cheapness” aren’t going to pop up for me until 2015. Since Epstein and Hoyer took over, the only free agent they’ve missed on that really bothers me is Yu Darvish – and that wasn’t really an open bidding system. Maybe Anibal Sanchez, too. (But not necessarily Yoenis Cespedes – looked at his numbers lately?) So, at bottom, what are we left with when it comes to a lack of spending? In these two offseasons, big-time spending wouldn’t have made sense anyway, whether they had the money or not.
  • Speaking of some of that stuff … yesterday’s announced attendance of just over 20,000 fans was the lowest since 2002. But, hey, then the 2003 Cubs were surprisingly good, and things turned around!
  • Dioner Navarro’s career year continues after another big game yesterday. He’s hitting .305/.369/.515 on the year, and I’d be surprised if he didn’t go into the offseason hoping he could land a starting job somewhere. The Cubs would undoubtedly like to have him back in a pairing with Welington Castillo next year, but Navarro may have played himself into the pricey luxury range, when it comes to back-up catchers.
  • If you were concerned about the young fan hit by the bat yesterday when Giancarlo Stanton accidentally let it fly, it sounds like he’s OK.

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

270 responses to “Tom Ricketts Speaks on Cubs Finances and Other Bullets”

  1. hansman1982

    Well shoot, looks like I was wrong with were the money was going. I am still curious as to why these things suddenly happened when Theo took over. There is that giant puzzle piece that I would like answered before I can get too riled up either which way.

  2. BigsmokeJ

    Sometimes people on this site are just plain crazy idiots. Some want the the club to spend more on the major league team, I assume by signing crappy old players to BIG – Long contracts. Thus locking the club to bad contracts and also blocking the path of the young talent.
    The landscape has changed over the last few years, the only FA’s that will be available will be old players on the downside of their careers or lighting in a bottle journey men types that can give you 1 maybe 2 yrs of production. Clubs are locking players up way before their FA years come up thus making them FA in their 30′s.
    Now you will have the odd Grienke type that comes up, but for the Cubs what would be the point of wasting his production on a crappy team. Then when the team is good, he isn’t.
    The Cubs are doing it the correct way based on the current landscape of baseball. You need to build your farm system up to a level were you can then spend money on the 1 or 2 guys in FA that will put you over the edge.
    To go old and waste money, only makes you the Angels. No thanks.

  3. BigsmokeJ

    And as Brett stated who are the 3 or 4 players the Cubs could have signed over the last 2 years that would have made them a playoff team and what would those players have cost the team in dollars and potential draft and IFA signings.
    Until someone can tell me those guys, this is all people talking out of their backside.
    Plus when the Theo/Hoyer took over who were the Great players they could build around on the Major league level. They didn’t have any and the didn’t have anyone to bring up that would make a difference.
    This was the only way they could build this organization that would put them in a position to win over a long period of time.

    1. DarthHater

      B.J. Upton, man. The Cubs should have signed him! :-P

      1. hansman1982

        AND MICHAEL BOURN!!! THAT SPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED!

        1. chrisfchi

          Extend Milton Bradley FTW!

    2. jon

      I posted this in the other thread, but here are a pool of players available the past two years that I believe would have helped the club

      “I think they should have got one at least two of these:
      Darvish, Anibal, Liriano, Cespedes, Puig, CJ Wilson

      Got involved in Dodgers or Marlins firesale(take on money) and come away with someone like Hanley Ramizerz

      DeJesus, Castro, Rizzo, Puig, Cespedes, Hanley, Castillo, Barney”

      I’m avoided the albatross contracts of Pujols, Fielder, and Hamitlon and focusing on external FA’s that would have helped the Cubs

      I don’t know if a combination of these players would have put them in the playoffs, but they would have improved the Cubs big league roster and since there is no salary cap in baseball they wouldn’t have hindered future plans as much.

      In fact the only downside to signing these players is “too good, too fast” meaning you dont’ get a high draft pick & Kris Bryant. In that case, just admit that because of the new CBA, you feel the need to tank for 3-4 years and get top 5 picks.

      1. hansman1982

        “I’m avoided the albatross contracts of Pujols, Fielder, and Hamitlon and focusing on external FA’s that would have helped the Cubs”

        And managed to cherry pick the best value free agents of the past two years.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          To be fair. I think everyone at the time was upset we didn’t get Anibal, but there wasn’t any way we were going to get him unless we blew the Tigers out of the water.

          1. hansman1982

            Ya, I was very bummed but the silver lining was the Cubs had the money to spend…

            1. Jay

              And unfortunately they spent it on Edwin Jackson rather than on re-signing Garza or simply saving it for when they really need it.

              1. willis

                I got to think, as big of a fan of his that I am, that there was something about Garza that didn’t jive with the FO. They were trying to get rid of him from about day one, never entertaining extending him, even with his talent. Then turned around and hitched themselves to Edwin Jackson, who isn’t anywhere near the pitcher Garza is. Just curious to know if there was some type of rift or what about him they didn’t like. But there was certainly something.

        2. jon

          I didn’t cherry pick anything. I piled a list a every major free agent the past few years, and simply suggested that if they spent more, got some more of those guys, the current major league team would be better without much disruption to the “master plan”

          1. Chad

            You did cherry pick. What about Upton, Lohse, and Bourn? They were free agents that would have been considered helpful to the cubs at the time they were signed. It sure is easy to look at things from hind sight. I don’t know too many people that were beating Liriano’s door down. He looks good now, sure. Very easy to look back and say, yeah should have done that. Oh, and have you looked at Cespedes numbers lately. He’s really crushing it this year. What would adding all those players have cost the cubs? Payroll would be much larger. Could they have signed all the draftees? What about all the international signings? You say there would be no sacrifice to the rebuild, but I say you’re wrong.

            1. jon

              There is no salary cap in baseball and there is no imposed cap on draft or international spending based directly on what you spend at the big league level. I would like Ricketts to give Theo the money to spend high at the big league level and max out in the draft and International FA. That’s essentially the highlight of my criticism

              1. Chad

                I mean yeah that’s all great, but if you don’t have the money to do all of that then you can’t do it. Ricketts is a business man, he has debt to pay off he has other things like the rennovation to fund. That should all result in more money for baseball ops down the road. You are concerned about this year and next while he’s worried about setting everyone up for the next 20 to 50 years. If everyone operated like you suggest, just spend money, there’s not limit we might have a financial crisis in this country, oh wait we did. Because people bought more house than they could afford etc.etc. It didn’t work.

                It is still a business, and to be sustainable you have to have a vision for the future, not just now. I think I will trust the Ricketts rather than your advice.

              2. Chef Brian

                Signing band aid players, would’ve certainly hindered the rebuild as far as draft position and the amount of pool dollars the team had access to use. Plus the benefit of hindsight is certainly bolstering your free agent list.

                1. Jon

                  If you don’t want hindsight, don’t ask me for a list of players, which was the request.

                  1. Hookers or Cake

                    Jon – Liarano was set to sign a 2 year 12+ million deal with the Pirates when he broke his arm. They renegotiated the next day for one million and 12 million in incentives.

                  2. Chef Brian

                    Who asked you for a list of players? You are boasting that the Cubs fortunes would’ve been so much improved if they had the benefit of using your crystal ball. Bravo.

                  3. Chad

                    My bad I won’t ask you again…………wait, I well actually nobody asked you.

                    1. Eternal pessemist

                      Jon, i’ve got a crystal ball you might want want to buy so you can make these precision picks in foresight instead of hindsight. It just needs a little dusting.

                      Better yet, just tell us which FA’s we shoul pick up this year with the $25mil (?) available to patch all the 2014 holes.

                      BTW I would also like them to spend more as the club value grows, so this is not a blanket defense of ownership at alll…spend some damn money this year!

          2. frank

            Well, we weren’t going to get Sanchez. He wanted to stay in Detroit. Cespedes has not been good this year, and no one really knew what Puig would turn out to be. Wilson quite clearly stated that he did not want to play in Chicago. Would more money have made a difference? Maybe. Don’t think I can argue too much with Liriano or Darvish.

        3. Dave

          Hasn’t Theo himself said that the lack of payroll has slowed down the rebuild process
          If that’s the case he must have felt that some of the players mentioned here were worthy of signing so lets not act like there were no good options

          1. jon

            Indeed. If Ricketts gave him the money, I’m quite sure a few of those players I just mentioned would be Cubs.

            Against my rant isn’t against Theo, it’s against ownership, which hasn’t given him “full” opportunity to operate on dual fronts. This isn’t based on opinion or assumptions, that’s straight quotes from Theo Epstein.

      2. Coop

        “I think they should have got one at least two of these:
        Darvish, Anibal, Liriano, Cespedes, Puig, CJ Wilson”

        Darvish – this is the one guy we missed out on. Wish we had been willing to throw more money around. I suspect Theo was slightly gun shy after the Dice-K disappointment. As Brett says, this is the guy I really regret we didn’t get.

        Anibal – we had no legit shot at – he played us for more money, and was clearly only interested in Detroit (unless we came in WAY over the top, which would then make it a dumb contract)

        Liriano – he really had shown nothing with the Twins for the past several years, was an injury risk, and really didn’t show much promise. The Pirates caught lightning in a bottle, but I never would have supported his signing before seeing what he did this year. Think he is a fine example of hindsight is 20/20.

        Cespedes – while I wouldn’t mind having him, the contract he signed with the A’s wouldn’t have made sense for us. He will be hitting FA right at our peak competitive window. Also, he is more hype than results.

        Puig – another fine hindsight example. The money the Dodgers gave him just looked stupid at the time. Also, he is a punk, and I am just fine rooting against him.

        CJ Wilson – meh. No thanks. Too much money for a mid-rotation type guy.

        1. jon

          Lirano was no risk all at. He was 1 million this year with a team option of 8 million next year. If he sucked, you decline the option. Please, do some research on your facts before you call my point out.

          1. gocatsgo2003

            If he was “no risk at all,” then he would have gotten a better contract than he did.

          2. On The Farm

            I love it how quick people like to point out and say the Baker signing was a poor one, we should have went for Liriano. We weren’t going to sign both and at the time Liriano looked terrible (go look up his stats and do that research 5.34 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 4.14 xFIP, 5 BB/9) Yeah, I am sure you just knew he was going to be this big of a stud this season.

            1. Coop

              Ha, thanks, same point I made. You were just faster – actually had to deal with work for a few minutes there, so my reply was delayed…

              1. On The Farm

                No problem I am experiencing a lunch time lull so I had the time. People always fail to look up Liriano’s stats from the previous year when they look at the Baker signing and wish they had gotten Liriano.

                1. jon

                  Scott Baker got 5.5 million guaranteed, Lirano got 1 million guaranteed. Hell, we could have got both of them.

                  1. On The Farm

                    There are “a lot” of players we probably could have got this offseason, but the fact is that Liriano didn’t look like he was going to have a future as a RP let alone in the rotation. Walking 5 guys per 9 IP? He looked like something that should have been left on the scrap heap, but instead he ended up being a really good players. Front Offices miss on players, it happens. You literally can not expect 100% perfection in player acquisitions.

                    1. Edwin

                      Plus, there are only so many roation spots. I’m sure Liriano wanted a chance to start, and the Pirates were willing to give it to him. The rotation for the Cubs was already pretty full by then. I think it’s a good bet that Liriano would have turned down the Cubs offer in favor of Pitt anyways.

                  2. twinkletoez

                    It was NOT a 1 Million dollar contract…. He signed for 2 years and 12.75 million, then got hurt.. Here is the contract.

                    Last December, prior to suffering a broken right (non-throwing) arm, Francisco Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75MM contract with the Pirates. After his injury, the two sides worked out a new contract that guaranteed Liriano just $1MM in 2013 but contained $3.75MM worth of incentives and a vesting option that could be worth either $5MM, $6MM or $8MM, depending on time spent on the DL with the right arm injury.

          3. Coop

            I didn’t say Liriano was a financial risk – if it came off as me implying as much, then sorry I didn’t provide more context. What I was saying was there was no reason to sign him – he sure looked like he had nothing left, based on his performance with the Twins and brief stint with the White Sox. ERA+ around 80, WHIP well over 1.4, BB/9 over 5. He just looked like a bad pitcher. No reason to even take a flier, from what I saw. At least Scott Baker had been a pretty decent pitcher before his TJS. That didn’t work out (HINDSIGHT….), but still seemed like a better flier.

            But thanks for your continued condescending tone. And for getting angry about someone disagreeing with you. Your “Please, do some research on your facts before you call my point out,” makes for good discussion. Unfortunately, I cannot find the evidence of your research in your posts…

          4. Hookers or Cake

            RESEARCH?! REALLY?
            Liriano broke his arm the day before he was supposed to sign a 2/12+ contract with the Pirates. They renegotiated the next day for One million Guaranteed and 12 million in incentives.
            Plus he’s been shelled 3 of his last six. He’s got 130 inninings. He’s no safe bet to start in the post season.

        2. Kyle

          I think you are mistaking “hindsight” for “other teams figured things out better than we did.”

          It’s an GM’s job to have foresight, not just go with the consensus from reading a guy’s Fangraphs page.

      3. josh ruiter

        That list is absurd, at the same time you could have a few years back pined for them to sign daisuke, hideki, kaz matsui and kosuke and ended up with crap for the money. When it came to Cespedes, the Cubs wanted him, but not to the tune of a major league roster spot without some convincing of worth, like every team except the A’s. Puig came with questions as well and was (until 2 months ago: warning SSS) in the same class as Soler. To get one of those two was a great get by the FO. Liriano was a has been who has had arm trouble and hadn’t gotten back, not far off from Baker, we just happened to get the guy who had a setback. Liriano has been horrid the last month though, so buyer beware. Darvish we wanted badly…example A of the issue of blind bid posting with Japan, you have no clue what to bid on a guy like that, and by sounds of it Texas used 20 million they didn’t have to in the bid, Cubs were 2nd and far behind. Another example of one team taking a big flyer and risk to take a shot. Those risks pan out <50% of the time and are not good baseball or business moves by rule. Anibal wasn't coming, it was a positioning ploy and stroke of genius by his agent to get more dough out of detroit, and C.J. Wilson is being paid like an ace who is truly a 2/3 on a WS caliber team. Bam. Cubs FO wins.

        1. jon

          You are not getting the point of this exercise. Someone made the argument of just “who could of the Cubs signed to make them better” (assuming they would get no response). I simply made a suggestion of external FA’s that would have helped this team. I didn’t suggest they should have signed all of them. I have pointed this out multiple times. I suggested “more investment” in the major league roster would maybe have resulted in getting a few more of those players, while not disrupting the long term plan.

          1. josh ruiter

            I hear ya jon, but what you gotta consider is reality. And it came across as a shot at the FO methods with your “too good, too fast” “should just tell us they are tanking” statements to wrap it up. Sounded a lot like a guy playing all the perfect signings over the last 3 years against a FO that has done a helluva job. Maybe you could look at how many of those guys or scenarios happened to any one club. CJ wilson along with Hamilton and Pujols, Puig along with roughly a billion in payroll from the Red Sox, Marlins fire sale ending up in a lost Blue Jay season. No team has perfectly pulled off multiple feats from your list. Every huge risk that succeeds is paired with multiple failures as well.

    3. Lyle Ernst

      I agree with BigSmoke all the way. The FO is rebuilding the Cubs the only way that will assure many winning seasons to come.

      1. Pat

        But it doesn’t assure anything other than the fact that the 12, 13, and now probably 14 teams were going to have no chance of contention.

  4. Greg

    Brett, I have never commented on your site, but I check-in everyday and appreciate the work you do. However, I do find it entertaining that you have some rabid followers who have a “bromance” or “mancrush” on you. If anyone attacks something you say they come to your defense with guns blazin’. If you ever wanted to set up a compound and start a cult, it looks like you got quite a few willing “koolaid drinkers”. Keep up the good
    work.

    1. Chef Brian

      “Take it easy, Greg. Why don’t you sit this next one out, stop talking for a while.”

    2. jt

      I disagree with Brett’s stuff all the time and nobody has ever come after me with guns blazin’.
      I haven’t called into question the site’s integrity or tossed insults at the guy.
      I mean, why would I? Why would anyone?

      1. MichiganGoat

        Well you have now ;)
        xJ87FRAStav8iWnQo7EZ_guns_blazing.jpg

  5. MightyBear

    I must say that the Epstein Rickets discussion of the Cubs finances is discouraging. I didn’t expect the Cubs to go wild with a spending spree but I do think now they should be spending more than the Cardinals, Brewers, Reds and Pirates at the ML level. Brett said that Darvish is the only FA they could have gotten that would have fit the plan. I disagree. Jason Grilli had it come down to the Cubs and the Pirates last year. The Cubs offered more but he decided to stay with the Pirates. More cash or a longer deal may have gotten the Cubs Grilli and not only could this season be different, the next several seasons could be different. The farm system is top 5 in baseball. The minor league facilities and dominican facilities will be first rate. The renovation to Wrigley is coming. The TV revenue is coming. It is time to get some major league talent that will be there when the Cubs farm starts delivering. The name that jumps out at me in the offseason is Ellsbury. He’s 29 and this FO is very familiar with him. I don’t want them to get into a biddding war with Boston but projections are 5/75. If that holds true, the Cubs should get him. The Nats signed Werth after they lost 100 games and it paid off for them.

    1. 70'scub

      How many more years are they stuck with that (werth) contract. By the way check the standings it’s Football season in Chicago and Washington. I rather the Cubs just play Lake and more importantly use the PT and AB’s to develop some young talent.

    2. X the Cubs Fan

      Ive heard 5/175 is Boras’s starting point.

      1. Tim

        That’s 35M per year for someone who has had health issues the last couple years. For that much you should be getting at least a10 win player lol

      2. MichiganGoat

        There is no way he would even get close to that so I’m assuming this is a Boras joke.

  6. chrisfchi

    Looking at this from a business manager standpoint what Ricketts is doing is basic financial management. In other words, they lose say 1mil in revenue but save 3mil by dumping a bad contract they still come out ahead 2mil. That’s 2mil more they can use to upgrade.

    1. jon

      They lose 7 million dollars for every 100K lost in attendance.

      1. Napercal

        That’s correct. How does that help them pay down the debt.

        1. chrisfchi

          Hypothetical numbers up there guys. Just making a point on loss vs. Gain

  7. 70'scub

    At this point as a Cub fan (4 years and counting of 90+ losses) with two more seasons of 90+ losses coming. I expect two more years of a top ten pick, continued loading of the farm through the draft plus aggressive international signings. At some point a dominant young core will emerge with plenty of back up talent available. Theo/Jed and the owner have to put up a dominant club to offset these seasons.

  8. Jason

    Scotti. We live in Mesa and 3 or 4 yrs ago my Dad, Tyrus, who has since passed called me. He said that he was a the practice fields and the elder Mr Ricketts was standing there all alone. Dad and a friend approached him and they had a long conversation. Dad said the conversation centered on Mr. Ricketts dis-belief that his boys wanted to leave Fitch and Hohokam. He thought the complex was beautiful –so my Dad said to me, that he believed the kids might be restrained in how they spent money. Now after lots of threats of leaving Mesa, we citizens approved a 90 million dollar complex 15 minutes away–all a taxpayer expense. I have in the meantime met Pete and others and they are very nice My favorite is Laura and she is just a fantastic person. But my Dad always said if Mr. Ricketts has not backed completely away that there would be a tight purse–his friend who visited with Mr. R and Dad reminds me often of that long conversation and how conservative he seemed to be. But Dad’s are usually like that and thank goodness because I now use my Pop’s house when I come off the mountain . I have no idea at all how aggressive Mr R. is with the business. I just might ask Pete one of these days.

  9. BigsmokeJ

    Lets look at these players:

    Darvish – yes it would have been great to have him, but past Japanese pitchers have not fared that well coming over. Just look at DiceK.

    Anibal – they made a good offer to him but he wanted to stay in Detroit with a chance to win a title. This is not the FO’s fault.

    Liriano – has been bad the last few years, even the White Sox let him go. If they thought he was going to pitch like that they would not have let him go. They thrive on cheap pitching. No one wanted him, that’s way he signed for 1M and the Pirates got lucky.

    Cespedes – The Cubs made a good offer but he wanted to be a FA quicker so he could cash in again on the FA marker. The Cubs were looking to sign him up longer term and offering him the short contract he received from the A’s would not have fit into the teams plans.

    Puig – No one knew he was going to be this good and I want to see how he fairs next year after teams have a chance to look and tape and pitch him differently. Tons of players have been good for a short period or one season and then flame out. Plus all the crap he’s been having with his benching and such, would have made him the next Soriano in this town. I doubt he would have done half of what he has done in Chicago. Since people here always want to break players down.

    And last CJ Wilson – He was coming off two good years with Texas, but his only two years he pitched over 100 innings. He signed a 5 year deal for 77.5M which is a lot for a 30 year old pitch who has only pitched over 100 innings twice in his career. Should the Cubs have signed him? No he would have been 35 by the time his contract was over, just when the club would have been really contenting.

    So what would signing two of these players meant to the big club? Sure they might have won a few more games, but at what cost? Signing Wilson alone would have cost 15M and brought you what maybe 4 more wins, WOW, just sign me up, Not.

    Here is the question you need to ask yourself. Do you want this club to do business like it was done the last 30 yrs. Have a winning season every 5 or 6, which might get you to the playoffs and the other years you suck.
    Or COULD you have some patience and put up with 3, 4 or maybe even 5 years of bad teams which gets you 10 years or longer of playoff teams were you have a legitimate chance to win a WS each year.
    At this point for me I’ll take the 5 years of being bad with a legitimate plan to build a solid organization, then the shit teams I’ve had to watch for the last 50 years.

    The art of stupidity is doing the same plan over and over and thinking the results will change. That an factor the changes for FA’s and the Draft and you have the only plan that is viable for a long term success of a team.

    1. Patrick W.

      In fairness (and I don’t blame the Cubs on any of these misses)

      Darvish: not the prototypical Japanese pitcher (stuff, build) and DiceK had a pretty decent run there at the beginning

      Liriano: Got just the kind of contract we would have loved to take a flyer with

      Puig: SOMEBODY knew what kind of player he was going to be, eh?

    2. Kyle

      “Here is the question you need to ask yourself. Do you want this club to do business like it was done the last 30 yrs.”

      This is what bugs me more than anything. The self-righteous, smug “You just don’t understand the Plan” attitude from people who don’t have a whit’s clue about the subject on which you are opining.

      This is not some radical new approach that the Cubs have never tried before, or even in the last 30 years, and signing some good players to help the team win baseball games would not be perpetuating some imaginary, apparently three-decade-long cycle of overspending on free agents that never happened.

    3. Castro to Barney to Chance

      I am somewhat unpersuaded by the argument that this is *bound* to work out. The Angels and Jays are often brought up as an un-nuanced counter to a criticism of “the plan.” But of course “the plan” is not in contrast to only unrestrained spending. Indeed “the plan” is a far more hard-line approach than what most critics want; it puts far too much stock in one method of success, and does so at great opportunity cost.

      It is true that the Rays have been successful with this approach (the Cards never took an approach this drastic). But for one Rays there are three of Seattle, San Diego, and Kansas City; even the beltway teams (one of whom lucked into two of the best #1s of recent memory) are far from sure bets after years of following the very same plan.

      “The plan” is not above my head, nor is it novel. It is a good way to achieve success for a small-market franchise; it is somewhat of a disappointment to see put so firmly into practice by a team with more resources.

      1. jt

        The Giants have had an interesting run over the last 20 years.

      2. hansman1982

        “The Plan” isn’t about relying on a prospect dream team to lead us to the playoffs. It’s about building the best possible farm system AND finding guys that will perform above-average.

        FAs “worth” a 3-7 year deal pan out at a terrible rate. I can’t wait to update my FA spreadsheet with this year’s data to see how terrible last year’s FA class was.

        1. Bill

          Isn’t this one of the reason Theo gets paid the big bucks? Shouldn’t he be able to beat the league rate on those long term FA’s? If he’s not able to identify the FA’s who are “worth” the years/money then maybe Ricketts hired the wrong guy.

          1. hansman1982

            It appears he has done a pretty good job thus far with handling FAs. The problem isn’t that I think he has necessarily taken this approach, it’s just that most FA’s either have a glaring flaw or are at a point where it just isn’t likely to get the value you paid for.

            It isn’t about being able to beat the league average, it’s knowing when a class of investments is bad. Would you say Warren Buffett is a bad investor because he refuses to invest in “Investment group-XYZ” because, while you can occasionally hit big, most of the time it is a poor investment?

            1. Kyle

              The problem with this approach is that there aren’t alternatives for the money. $11m/win is only a bad investment is you have other places to spend that $11m that give you more wins.

              There’s a severe diminishing return and even a cap on what you can spend on the farm system and infrastructure, so what’s left?

            2. Bill

              Yes, most FA’s have glaring flaws, but so do Castro and Rizzo and I bet you weren’t upset about those extensions. People laughed at the Nationals for signing Jason Werth and he turned out pretty well. If the Nationals don’t shut down Strasberg they might have made it to the WS. How much extra money does a team earn for every playoff game? How much money in potential revenue is Ricketts losing by fielding a poor team? Those things have to go into your equation when figuring out if a FA is “worth” signing.

  10. Jon

    Three to Five years of terrible big league teams isn’t a prerequisite to building a long term sustainable foundation. Not in baseball. I have no idea why so many project this idea.

    1. 70'scub

      Given the complete state of affairs the Cub organization was in at the time of the Sale. Yes, 5 full years not counting the 2 extra years wasted by keeping Henry around after the purchase. Most talent needs X amount of high Q farm coaching and experience. Cubs had poor farm coaching, not much young talent and a old core MLB team two years ago. What young talent left the Cub organization in the past ten years?

    2. hansman1982

      You forget that 3 of those years included the highest payrolls the Cubs have ever seen (and, as an aside, the worst top-player production of a non-strike shortened post-1901 season).

      Combine the lack of a top-flight, in-house player with a sub-par farm system and a non-existent player development program and you have an organization in terrible shape.

      Other organizations would go with a $50M payroll while building the farm system without paying to bring the organization into the 21st century, new Dominican facilities, new ST facilities AND forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to bring the stadium into the 1990′s.

  11. ClevelandCubsFan

    Could Theo’s “ideal world” refer to a world in which we don’t have to choose between getting top prospects (in the draft) and winning at the major league level? Rather than the way we heard it which was the ideal world simply had more money?

    ON the flip side I could imagine Ricketts’ comments to be understood to mean that Theo can do whatever he wants with his budget: Every club has a budget and perhaps the Cubs budget is larger than most maybe even larger than what the Red Sox had–but because of Theos Plan, he is choosing to spend a great deal of money on development and facilities rather than th4 ML payroll.

  12. Die hard

    No vote of confidence Sveum

  13. jt

    Who here is in a hurry to see the trade of Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, Lake, Shark, Wood, Parker, Russell, Lim, Arrietta, Cabrera, Strop, Hendricks, Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, C. Villanueva, Neil Ramirez, Grimm, Rivero, Rosscup, P. Johnson, Edwards, Black, Solar or Almora?
    That is 26 names, 16 of which are pitchers.
    That list does not include Vogelbach, Valbuena, Szczur, Candelario, Geiger. The list does not even touch those who were in Boise or Az.
    Who would like to see Schierholz, Navarro and Sweeney brought back?
    Who here would rather have Donnie Murphy rather than Brent Lillibridge for emergencies?
    Now think of the list you would have made last April.
    I don’t have a problem as to how they are going about things.

    1. Starlin Backer

      Olt

      1. jt

        I believe that folks are willing to give Olt a legit shot. I believe most folks think it possible that he succeeds in that opportunity. I just don’t think the confidence level for such thinking is extremely high.

  14. SenorGato

    Reading the actual quotes Ricketts offers rather than Wittemeyer’s taken on what he says is refreshing. I’m alot less pessimistic, more optimistic about the offseason.

    I do not expect a quiet, ho-hum offseason as they make us wait yet again for A ball players to show up and become superstars before putting any real effort to the ML squad.

  15. DocShock8

    2 things to remember as well in regards to FA and money spent:

    Cubs have to offer more money (and maybe years) because:

    1) They have had several losing years and players like to play for winning organizations
    2) Taxes in IL are much higher than many places so a 5/$75M with the Cubs is actually less money than that same deal with an organization based in a state with a lower income tax or no income tax at all.

  16. Stogie

    Is Tom Ricketts so dense that he thinks fans are gonna come out in droves to watch a garbage team? Fans will come and pay more when you give them a reason to come. “Rebuilding” is never a word that any baseball wants to hear, but unlike other teams that rebuild, the Cubs won’t play the kids. They give ABs to unwatchable players like Cody Ransom and Darnell McDonald? Where is Mike Olt? Kyle Hendricks? I know Olt has struggled, but in a lost season, we might as well see him. Hendricks has dominated AA. Baez should be able to compete for the roster next spring. That’s what rebuilding is, Tom, Theo, and Jed.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      You also have to consider service time as well.

  17. caryatid62

    The Cubs have one of the best Presidents of Baseball Ops in major league baseball, who has proven the ability to build perennial world series contenders. When given the freedom to make moves he wants to make, he has been able to build teams that have consistently competed for championships.

    That President has said, multiple times, that he has been unable to make some moves that he wanted to make due to financial limitations.

    I’m not sure how anyone can read/hear that and not be massively disappointed.

    I want one of the best minds in baseball to have the freedom to make every decision he needs to make in order to produce the best team he can produce, with as few non-baseball limitations as possible.

    I don’t like the idea of buying a Tesla and being unable to drive it because you can’t afford the upkeep.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      I don’t think you will find very many (if any) people here disagree with that. We would all like there to not be any hurdles, but they are there nonetheless.

  18. Kyle

    If it’s being argued that another $40-50m in payroll could not possibly have been put to good use by this front office, then I have to wonder why this front office is the right one for the job.

    1. Brains

      Yes. And let’s face it, the decisions Theo has made at a major league level, even with his hands tied, have been bumbling by a Kansas City measure. I’m starting to wonder if hiring player based upon projected WAR is one of the problems. His bad high-budget hires in Boston were all WAR based, but not chemistry based. Teams like Tampa are built entirely on spunk and character, leading to good sportsmanship character. Too much abstraction with a limited budget equates to a bizarre and underqualified MLB team. Oakland is good at picking out a mix of the two. Not just a guy who can contribute WAR, but a guy who builds a clubhouse. Theo has no sense of clubhouse…

    2. 70'scub

      That is a cheap shot!

    3. jt

      They bet and lost on Marmol, Camp, Hairston, Jackson and Fujikawa.
      They could have spent $40M on Mr. Peabody’s way-back machine. But sans Bullwinkles friend I think they make those bets even with the extra cash.

      1. ClevelandCubsFan

        Bet and lost? Marmol was signed for big $ by Hendry. Hairston wasn’t bust unless you had ridiculous aspirations for him. Solid glove and potent bat with an upside that didn’t pan out. Didn’t cost much. Jackson hasn’t been as bad as some numbers suggest. And besides Jackson wasn’t about winning now. He gives us a durable innings eater and a veteran in the rotation. We needed that. (See last year.) And unless yoy k ow a way to divine T.J. cases, Fujikawa was just bad luck. All these signings gave a purpose. Many are high risk high rewards (see Baker). Also… and man this is speculation but I’ve thought it for a long time… There’s something to these international signings. .. Korea Japan etc. I think part if the strategy might be getting the word out that the Cubs are a great organization to work for so that future int’l players have the Cubs on their radar. And it’d be great if the Cubs could build an international fanbase. I think there’s a business piece going on here.

        1. Bwa

          Don’t forget the prospect we got for Hairston! Pineyro is no joke

        2. jt

          “Marmol was signed for big $ by Hendry”
          –ClevelandCubsFan
          *
          Kyle is asking if an additional $40M spent would have produced a winner.
          Part of the above money could/would have been used to replace Marmol.
          I’d add that they paid $15.5M to get rid of Big Z. They paid $6.1M to get rid of Byrd and accept Bowden. It seems they never really wanted Bowden so they were pretty much accepting the sunk cost. If they didn’t think Marmol would mimic his 2012 performance they would have replaced him and accepted that sunk cost.

          *
          “Jackson hasn’t been as bad as some numbers suggest.”
          Jackson is using a lot of pitches to get through very few IP and giving up a lot of runs in the process. He loses command and when he does he centers pitches in the K zone. That is a formula for bad. Yeah, he has velocity and movement of pitches. Yeah, he may again find the way to command. But he has earned his ERA by placement of pitches in locations Big League hitters can hit up the middle or pull through the holes. There is no truth to the rumor that Travis Wood is a Harry Potter character who has been sucking up all of EJ’s luck.
          “Fuji was just bad luck”
          yeah, crap happens. the wheel spins and the ball rolls; sometimes it doesn’t fall on your number. even good bets sometimes come up a loser. I personally think Baker was a good bet that didn’t work out. But unlike Fuji, they were not really depending upon Baker.

    4. hansman1982

      Another $40-50M in payroll would have been a godsend to this front office. Just what tells you that the Cubs could conceive a payroll in the $155M range?

      1. Kyle

        Without a radically different ownership situation, they couldn’t.

        But let’s not mistake “they couldn’t” with “it wouldn’t be a good thing if they could.” It would be an awesome thing. More payroll is never useless and always better.

  19. Rizzofanclub

    I am a big Theo plan and a supporter of what’s going on but I still think the front office spends around 30-35 million this offseason. I think Theo is planting a seed in your avg fan that they will not be signing any “big time” free agents such as Cano. I see them going after Tanaka or another mid level pitcher,an outfielder probably make a run at Choo and get outbid on years and end up with Cruz,Morse, or Hart. They will sign a backup catcher, will probably bring back Sweeney, and work out an extension with Shark. Look we have to see what Olt or Baez can do at 3rd, see what Alcantara or Baez can do at 2nd, see what Lake can do with regular at bats. The Cubs are not in a position to spend big on a single player. Oh and no way does Elsbury sign for less than 6yrs 100mil. I am also putting a 2% chance of a Baez and others for Stanton.

  20. cub2014

    We shall see how Pinyero does for Daytona tonight
    but their starters are a fiersome foursome. I dont ever
    remember a group of starters in the Cubs minors that
    were this good for such a stretch.

  21. cub2014

    Then Iowa’s rotation next year:
    Hendricks,Cabrera,Grimm,Ramirez,
    and Rusin or Arrieta. Still leaves
    Jokisch,Raley, Loux & Negrin. Some
    are going too have to be traded.

    1. Kyle

      Cabrera can’t be sent to Iowa next year without being exposed to waivers. Rusin, Arrieta and Grimm all probably need to be in either the big-league rotation or bullpen in order to maximize their value. Not all those guys are going to Iowa.

      1. cub2014

        Kyle, I didnt know that about Cabrera. I am
        hoping both Arrieta and Rusin are with the
        Cubs one as a long reliever. I dont think their
        is any room for Grimm in Chicago. So with 3
        of those guys going to Chicago or traded.
        I still think guys like Raley should get traded.
        Assuming the high A guys go to AA then
        AA pitchers will be coming to AAA. like
        Rhee & Loosen need to come up.

        1. ssckelley

          I think Loosen needs to figure out how to pitch in AA before moving up.

      2. jt

        thought I read where Jed mentioned the plan was for Hendricks to vie for a rotation spot in 2014?

        1. ssckelley

          I think that is the plan with several pitchers, I think Rusin will be in the mix as well. But whoever does not make the cut will go to Iowa. Next spring there will be some interesting competitions for the rotation and, possibly, position players.

  22. cub2014

    Loosen has definitely been up and down. But with
    Wells,Johnson,Pinyero,Black & Edwards I would
    assume most of these guys will be moving up.
    So we know have potentially 15 solid starters for
    2 levels. Somethings got to give.

    1. ssckelley

      It is a good problem to have and the pipeline is starting to clog up a little with solid pitching prospects. But I doubt Wells and Pineyro move up next year, both are still pretty young and have not dominated high A yet. There are a few in Iowa that need to graduate the minors (Rusin/Raley) and whoever fails to make the starting rotation can go to the bullpen where they can trim the non prospect (filler) types.

  23. cub2014

    Those 5 starters at Daytona are 21 and
    younger so in about 2 years? It is amazing
    how fast this FO has turned minors pitching
    around.

  24. The Cubs Might Be the Sixth Best Team Over the Next Five Years and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] of the Cubs’ affiliates in the playoffs, because the Tribune caught up with him at AA shortly after the Sun-Times spoke with him at High-A. There’s not really anything new in the Tribune piece, though I think it’s nice that […]

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