Tom Ricketts on the 2013 Season, the Future, and the Wrigley Field Renovation

tom ricketts cubs[The Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL were off yesterday, the Cardinals won again, there was virtually no Cubs news yesterday, and it's a Sunday in October. Thus, this, in place of Bullets.]

Chicago Cubs Chairman and Owner Tom Ricketts sent a letter to Cubs fans about the just-completed season, the near-starting renovations at Wrigley Field, and the to-be-completed “future.” Since the intention is clearly for as many Cubs fans as possible to see the letter, here it is, unedited:

Dear Cubs Fans –

An important season in our team’s development plan has drawn to a close, and I want to take a few minutes of your time to thank you for your ongoing support and provide an update on our progress.

The 2013 season was another challenging campaign at the Major League level, with only marginal improvement in our record. After careful deliberation, we made the difficult decision to proceed with a new manager next season to move us closer to fulfilling our ultimate long-term vision for this team. That search is underway, and our focus will be on providing the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the Major League level.

We also have been engaged in a process to save and improve Wrigley Field while reinvesting in the Wrigleyville neighborhood. Our efforts to improve the baseball organization and our facilities have resulted in promising advancement toward our family’s organizational goals of winning a World Series, preserving Wrigley Field and being a good neighbor in the City of Chicago.

We continue to be optimistic about the future of this franchise and our plan for sustained success. We aspire to become the best organization in baseball and have made strides in this direction. We acquired young, impact talent through trades, the first-year player draft and a weighted investment in this year’s international signing class. No team in Major League Baseball has spent more on combined first-year and international amateur talent than the Cubs over the four years of our family’s ownership. This investment in young talent is a significant driver of our system’s improvement and reflective of our current strategy to focus baseball resources on players who will contribute to the Chicago Cubs over the long term.

As a result, our Minor League system has improved from the bottom quartile to the second best in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus. According to ESPN’s latest rankings, four of baseball’s top 30 prospects reside on our Minor League rosters. We’re proud to employ many of the best scouts and player development staff in the game to help us find, commit and develop these exciting young players, and they’re already helping us win. Three of our five Minor League affiliates advanced to their respective playoffs, including the Florida State League-champion Daytona Cubs.

Because training and player development are critical to our goal of winning a World Series Championship, we must ensure our players have world-class facilities. Our new Spring Training Facility is nearing completion in Mesa, Arizona. This facility will be the best in the league for Major League players to prepare for the season each spring and for young players to train and develop year-round. It will also be a great place to watch Spring Training baseball. When in Mesa, you’ll notice field dimensions and elements reminiscent of Wrigley Field, from the cantilevered upper deck and roof to a replica of the red Wrigley Field Marquee. We hope you will be able to join us next spring for the facility’s grand opening and inaugural season of Spring Training games.

This past spring, the team opened a state-of-the-art baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, spanning 50 acres with baseball fields, training facilities, player housing and an education center, making it the largest academy in the country. Many of the best players in Major League Baseball are from Latin America and this impressive complex gives our ballclub a competitive advantage when recruiting and developing talented young players in this important region.

Finally, the restoration of Wrigley Field remains at the forefront of our efforts in Chicago, and we’re closer than ever to restoring this soon-to-be 100-year-old ballpark. We have made significant progress toward obtaining the city approvals for our $300 million private investment in Wrigley Field, which will include better player facilities, new fan amenities, improved concessions and restrooms, while maintaining what fans love about Wrigley Field. We will be able to offer more events, such as concerts and sporting events, as well as family-friendly activities to enhance the fan experience and quality of life for the neighborhood. Perhaps most importantly, this restoration will provide long-term incremental revenue that will be reinvested into the baseball team.

As we prepare this landmark investment in Chicago, our players, coaches, front office and event staff continue to deliver on our family’s priority of being a good neighbor. The team donated more than $2.3 million, plus thousands of autographed items and tickets, to hundreds of Chicagoland charities from Rogers Park to Englewood. This year, we introduced new Chicago Cubs Charities signature programs: the Cubs Scholars program, the Cubs on the Move Fitness Trolley and our Diamond Project, a community impact program that will provide grants to build and revitalize baseball fields in the Chicago area. If you have ever provided a donation, purchased a 50/50 raffle ticket or attended a Chicago Cubs Charities event, we thank you for supporting increased access to sports, health, wellness and fitness causes through Chicago Cubs Charities.

From top to bottom, our organization has been clear about adopting a long-term approach to becoming a championship-caliber franchise, and the 2013 season played an instrumental role in that transformation. This organization is becoming stronger and healthier. We have added young, impactful talent throughout our system and will provide the facilities and infrastructure required for them to succeed-which means an increasing number of homegrown players joining the Major League roster ready to win while playing The Cubs Way.

We value your continued support as the team continues on this exciting journey. Like you, my family cares deeply about the success of the Cubs and we are doing what we believe is necessary to win a World Series for the greatest fans in sports. Stay tuned for details about next season as we plan to celebrate 100 years of Wrigley Field all season long.

Once again, thank you and please say “hello” when you see me at the ballpark next year.


Tom Ricketts

I expect that it isn’t easy to face the organization’s more hostile fans at this stage in the building process, so I’m glad ownership takes this kind of step to put themselves in front of the fans.

The most important takeaway, for me, is the apolitical discussion of the Wrigley renovation. There is no talk of further approvals or the rooftops or conditions for investment. Instead, there is simply talk of what’s coming, and why it’s awesome. I find that encouraging, even if only in a non-specific “feeling” kind of way.

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

243 responses to “Tom Ricketts on the 2013 Season, the Future, and the Wrigley Field Renovation”

  1. Jono

    I like having this guy as the owner. This letter, and his physical appearance at the field, gives a face to the team. Whether you like the plan or not, he and the organization give it clarity. These are things the team hasn’t had before ricketts. This guy understands what it means to be the leader of a large organization, especially an oganization that gets polarized with lots of emotion. It’s nice to see for once

  2. Die hard

    Not impressed / Bill Veeck used to walk thru hostile stands and he only had one leg–the letter is akin to CEO ltr to shareholders which is not worth paper written on– but why expect more from this hedge fund mgr who appears to be using the Mitt Romney approach to the team of investing just enough to be able to flip the team to a new owner for a profit–Dominican facilities nothing more than modern day plantation where young kids are bought and sold by their agents with wink wink nod nod defector status paid for —well that’s modern day baseball which is no different than the state of the game before Curt Flood dared to try to change how players are exploited by the teams.

    1. Jono

      If he’s just “flipping” the cubs, that means he’s leaving it in better condition then when he got it. Sounds good to me.

      1. Jono


      2. caryatid62

        I don’t agree that he’s flipping the Cubs, but if he were, it wouldn’t necessarily mean he is leaving it in better condition than he found it. The market dictates the value of the franchise, and to be honest, Ricketts could have done absolutely nothing since he bought the team and it would still be worth a decent amount more than he bought it for due to the market in which he purchased it and the inflation that’s occurred since.

        1. Die hard

          With attendance declining baseball is at risk of dropping behind women’s basketball … Football basketball and hockey to surpass baseball if not already in Chicago and elsewhere … International expansion is only hope which makes Dominican facility such a smart move for Ricketts but not for Chicago who is at risk of becoming only a one baseball team town with Cubs moving south in next 5 years

          1. caryatid62

            The attendance decline is simply not accurate–almost the entirety of the decline from 2012 (the 5th highest attendance year in history) can be traced to Miami (their loss of almost 650,000 tickets sold makes up 80% of the total baseball loss compared to 2012). Your assumption is wrong.

          2. DarthHater

            So much reeking bullshit there that it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s see…

            “With attendance declining…”

            MLB regular-season attendance in 2013 was the sixth-highest total of all time, trailing only 2012 and the four years from 2005-08.

            “baseball is at risk of dropping behind women’s basketball…”

            WNBA total regular-season attendance in 2012: 1,521,300.
            MLB total regular-season attendance in 2013: 74,026,895

            So, if baseball attendance dropped by one million per year every year for seventy years, without exception, it would still be higher than WNBA attendance. Some risk.

          3. MichiganGoat

            Oh die hard you never have let facts get in the way of your arguements.

          4. dude

            people are not losing interest in baseball. the numbers prove it. and if you need more proof


            watch that. playoff baseball is magical. there is nothing like it. the Cubs are down right now, but when we start putting successful teams on the field the fans will come.

          5. Eric

            I was going to fact check this but it looks like DarthHater has already demonstrated how very incorrect your post is.

          6. CubsFaninMS

            It’s always amusing running across individuals like you who believe company profits are such an evil that is unfathomable that positive things may occur as a result of them. The more successful the Cubs franchise is, the more money the Ricketts will make and the happier the fans are. GENERALLY, our interests are mutual, certainly considering the fact that the Ricketts family are also fans. Sounds to me as if you just have a general resentment towards rich people (and life in general, now that I think of your prior posts). Get used to it. The next owner wil be rich as well. Only a rich person can own a professional sports franchise.

        2. Jono

          Thats a good point, the team could be worth more just by holding on to it. But he is improving the condition of the organization. He’s added assets and is soon to add sponsor revenues.

    2. Internet Random

      CSB’ing is the only proper response to die hard.

      1. MichiganGoat

        I’ll bite what is CSBing? Now if it was CBSing I’d assuming you’d mean drinking coupious amounts of Founders CBS (Canadian Breakfast Stout) and I’d agree with that.

        1. Internet Random

          “Cool story, Bro.”

          1. baldtaxguy

            I like.

        2. Johnny p

          Die hard makes me hate the Internet.

          1. Die hard

            You need to look deep within yourself and ask if its worth being on BN if that’s how you feel as counseling is not an option — sink or Sveum

    3. Funn Dave

      Haha, nice CEO letter analogy. And Curt Flood is one of the only Cardinals I’ve ever truly respected.

  3. caryatid62

    This may not be representative of anyone else, but I will provide some anecdotal evidence of where some others might be as fans of this team:

    After being on the season ticket waiting list for 7 years, I was finally offered the chance to buy tickets this year.

    I passed.

    I understand “the plan.” I understand the problems they’re having with the rooftops. I understand that there are some things that are under their control that they’ve dropped the ball on, and others that were never in their control in the first place.

    But I’m not willing to spend the amount of money it will cost to purchase season tickets for a team that I don’t believe will be truly competitive for at least three more seasons. It’s just not worth it.

    It’s not a protest, or anything like that. Buying Cubs tickets right now just doesn’t make sense. At this point, going to Cubs games just isn’t enjoyable, and I don’t think anyone who has disposable entertainment income should spend it on things that aren’t enjoyable just because of some vague promises made by an owner.

    1. Blackhawks1963

      You will regret not buying season tickets now. Because this thing is in the right hands and when it starts to gel it shall gel big time.

      I keep hearing frustration that the Cubs have sacrificed the big league product in the short term to focus on building the farm system and building blocks. 100 percent true. Yet some are actually frustrated that we haven’t spent on free agents in the short term other than flip candidates? Did you want Theo to burn money on free agent trainwrecks like Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla, BJ Upton? Or Nick Swisher, who Nate Schierholtz largely replicated in production but at a fraction of the cost?!? Where would that strategy have gotten us in the shorter tree other than a bigger hole go climb out of.

      1. caryatid62

        No, I don’t think I am making a mistake in the least. They’re not going to be good for awhile, so I’m confident that I’ll have the opportunity to buy tickets sometime in the next two to three years. I moved up almost 30,000 spots on the season ticket list in one year–I think I’m not the only one who’s not willing to pay for a terrible product.

        As far as “free agents” goes, the quested about “burning money” is ridiculous. Having more money to spend on free agents does not necessarily mean that they’d waste the money on bad free agents. That’s just not true.

        1. Blackhawks1963

          The Cubs put in aggressive bids for Darvish and the .225 hitting Cespedes in which it was a blind bid situation. If you want to rip Theo for not outbidding the world in light of the realities and what his scouting team informed him in terms of the value of the player on hand, then go for it. I can’t fix ignorance or selective assessments on your behalf.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Well, yes and no. The Cubs bid on Darvish was (given what info exists) the 2nd highest. However, it was (given the same information) less than half of what the Rangers bid. Again, the Rangers were bidding a bit irrationally: as Daniels later stated, they viewed Darvish as that “piece” that would put them over the top. They rather foolishly took for granted that they would be in the WS again in 2012, and were looking for one more win there. However, that one piece that wins you a WS is worth a lot more than that same piece is to teams (like the Cubs) that had a lot more building to do in addition.

            As for Cespedes, it is a bit of a shame that the A’s so badly scooped the Cubs. However, his .265/.324/.472 line has not been that spectacular. Presumably, he would have played RF for the Cubs, and those numbers would have been an improvement on the .243/.305/.413 numbers that the Cubs got from over the last two years: but they are not far from the .246/.293/.455 line that they got this year. (That is about 0.05 difference in OPS, which over one ninth of the PAs would be about 1 victory more. Of course, Cespedes himself posted a lower OPS than that this year!)

          2. caryatid62

            I didn’t “rip Theo.” Yeesh. I hate that everything on the internet has to be “praising” or “ripping.”

            You stated the following:

            “Did you want Theo to burn money on free agent trainwrecks like Josh Hamilton, Dan Uggla, BJ Upton? Or Nick Swisher, who Nate Schierholtz largely replicated in production but at a fraction of the cost?!? Where would that strategy have gotten us in the shorter tree other than a bigger hole go climb out of.”

            I pointed out that there was another option that would have borne significant fruit had they taken that route. Instead of their current, all-focus-on-the-system plan, there were more alternatives than “BUY ALL THE BAD FREE AGENTS!” It had nothing to do with the scouts evaluation of Cespedes, et. al. It was simply a refutation of the tired argument that the team HAD to tank 3-4 seasons in order for “the plan” to work.

            1. Ian Afterbirth

              I think everything you’ve written in this thread is quite rational and an excellent argument for not buying season tickets this year. I saw no “Theo rip”……

            2. Napercal

              I think your comments are extremely weel-thought. This is not the year to buy season tickets. The Oakland A’s prove year-in-and-year-out that you don’t have to field crap just because your team has a low budget.

      2. caryatid62

        By the way–to your last question. If the strategy was to spare no costs whatsoever on international free agents and spend huge in that market, they’d have a lineup that consists of Cespedes and Puig and a starting five that consists of Darvish and Ryu. That strategy would have likely gotten them in contention for a playoff spot this year.

        1. zenfnmaster

          We were in on the bidding for all of them except Puig if im not mistaken.

          1. caryatid62

            Hence the second half of my sentence: “sparing no expense.”

            My scenario is unrealistic, but no more or less unrealistic than the idea that the Cubs would have spent only on expensive, unproductive Free Agents (which was implied in the initial post).

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              Puig was a very unknown quantity: people were very surprised that the Dodgers paid so much for him simply because the data on him were so sparse. Much more attention was being paid to Cespedes and even Soler than to Puig. (Why that was, I do not know, and how the Dodgers alone seemed to know much about Puig I also do not know: but the “why” is sort of irrelevant at this point.)

        2. Ian Afterbirth

          You’re absolutely right that spending insanely would have had them in contention. But “in contention” at the price of not restocking the farm system and building a foundation for a nice decade – long run is too high a price in my opinion.

          I realize you’re not necessarily advocated the “spend insanely” approach, but just putting it out there. I simply believe that approach is short sighted and nowhere near guaranteed to land even one World Series title.

      3. Pat

        Do you have any idea how many thousands of dollars of dollars have been spent waiting for it to get “big time”? Most people have heard this before. They have been selling hope as long as I’ve been a fan. Maybe this time is different, but there has been nothing tangible at the major league level (the one that counts) to indicate that is the case.

    2. Jono

      I got the call last year. The only reason to buy season tickets now is to have tickets for when/if they’re in the playoffs and especially world series. At least, that’s why I joined the waiting list. And when I got the call, I did the math. It’ll cost more buying the season tickets leading up to the eventual world series than it would cost to buy the world series ticket at market value

      1. caryatid62

        That’s almost exactly what I did. If you took every dollar you were going to spend on season tickets (given that season tickets are likely going to cost somewhere between $3000-$7000 per year for two seats) and put it in an interest-bearing account, you’d likely have enough to either buy season tickets when they’re on the cusp of being good or pay scalper’s prices for playoff and/or World Series games.

  4. Seth N.

    bad for a long time? Really? I think the Theo plan is more aggressive than that, and frankly, I am pretty sure will succeed.

    If I WANTED season tickets and they were offered to me for next year? I’d take them. Might see the future of cubs baseball next year, and you’d be there to see it.

    Frankly, I would say next year would be an awesome year to be a season ticket holder.

    1. Caryatid62

      I disagree.

      And let’s be clear-the tickets arent being “offered to me.” They’re asking me to spend upwards of $5000 for the rights to see what is right now a terrible baseball team, without a high likelihood of improving in the next 2-3 years. That’s not an offer I’m willing to invest in.

      1. cub2014

        Caryatid, where do you guys get these crazy notions
        that the Cubs are going to stay bad for the next 2-3
        years? You believe that they arent going to improve
        the MLB club in 2014 & 2015.Do you really believe that?

        1. caryatid62

          It’s pretty obvious, given the timetable of the current players:

          1. Baez is not likely up until September of 2014. AT BEST, it’s June/July. He will take at least half a season to make a significant impact on MLB (as he’s only 20, and not Mike Trout).

          2. Every other offensive player in the minors has an ETA of, at the earliest, 2015, including Matt Bryant. This is assuming that they all mature and become the type of players we project them to be. It is highly likely that not all will succeed.

          3. There are still gaping holes in the pitching staff, and the team is unlikely to fill these with players currently in the minors before 2015. Edwards and Johnson are still in the low minors, and that’s all that’s there right now.

          4. The team has said it isn’t likely to spend serious money until it gets the revenue from the renovations, which aren’t likely to produce revenue until at least 2015. That eliminates significant free agent pickups and/or trades that require significant salary increases.

          That makes 2015 the first possible year in which the team will have significant pieces in place at the major league level and the ability to make deals that will add to the roster in a meaningful way. Understanding that the team will not immediately be successful if it’s populated mostly by rookies and/or second year players, 2016 is likely the first time that the team will see success (if everything goes right).

          2016–three years from now.

          1. dumbledoresacubsfan

            I think you mean Kris* Bryant.

            I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re not very knowledgeable about the team and its future when you can’t get one of the top prospects’ name correct.

            1. caryatid62

              Are you f’n serious?

              1. dumbledoresacubsfan

                I am.

                You lost your credibility in point 2, regardless of whether or not your argument is sound.

                Ethos, man. Ethos.

                1. caryatid62

                  Fair enough.

                  I am a victim of sarchasm. And it’s my own fault.

                  1. dumbledoresacubsfan

                    In response, though–

                    If Bryant and Baez continue to hit with as much prowess as they have been of late through Spring Training and the beginning of the minor league season next year, both will be up in July.

                    The pitching and lack of real outfield depth (at the moment) is what will hurt us in the very near future, but I think there will be at least one, maybe two, key additions this off season.

                    I don’t think we’re fighting the Pirates and Cards for top spots in the Central or anything, but by 2015 I could see it.

                    1. caryatid62

                      I could see that, but I still don’t think that their improvement curve coupled with Castro and Rizzo improvement (even in the best-case scenarios) would improve this team 20-25 wins over two years. And unless they spend in Free Agency and/or trade for real major league front line starterS(!), they don’t have the horses until at least 2016.

                2. Ian Afterbirth

                  I’m sorry, I fail to see the connection between a typo and ethos.

                  Caryatid (which is a more obscure and thus far more impressive word than “ethos”) just listed four sound reasons for why the Cubs will most likely not be competitive until 2016. I think we may see things get interesting in terms of the foundation beginning to come together in 2015, but 2016 sounds about right for when we first seriously begin to threaten the top of this division.

                  Speaking of seriously – “Ethos, man. Ethos.”

                  You had me rolling on the floor with that one.

                  1. dumbledoresacubsfan

                    Caryatid does make a sound argument, and, as you can see in my other comments, I agree with it (just not the 2016 part).

                    People get other peoples’ names wrong all the time in everyday speech. However, he was making an argument about the state of the Cubs and their future. He was typing it out and being precise in his comments to prove his point, not calling out the wrong name on accident.

                    I don’t equate getting someone’s name wrong to a typo. A typo is something like Chris Bryant instead of Kris Bryant. Calling your wife Edith instead of Mary is not a typo–it’s a cognitive mistake.

                    In trying to prove a point, you have to know the names of the people being used in the argument.

                    Rhetoric, man. Rhetoric. ;)

                    1. Ian Afterbirth

                      There are all sorts of explanations for why one might write or utter the incorrect first name of someone with whom they are actually quite familiar.

                      A “cognitive mistake” is such a broad term that it’s nearly meaningless.

                      My point is that after offering a well thought – out explanation in which Caryatid displayed more than ample understanding and familiarity with the subjects at hand, to jump on that misnomer as a reason to not take any of that segment of his argument seriously is just plain assiness. Caryatid knew exactly who he was talking about and so did you, so why bother pointing it out?

                      Context, man. Context.

            2. Pat

              When you’ve seen a hundred of these prospects flame out, you probably wont care so much about getting their names right either.

              1. dumbledoresacubsfan

                I think it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, whether you’re a prospect who flames out or doesn’t, a school teacher or a firefighter, you deserve to have your name written correctly. It’s called respect–something I’ve noticed isn’t very important nowadays.

                1. Pat

                  Nobody deserves respect just for existing. Respect is earned. I will venture to guess that if he makes an impact at the MLB level all the fans will remember his name correctly. In the meantime, it was (I assume) a mistake rather than disrespect. If you want to stop reading at that point is fine. To indicate that a mistake somehow invalidates his other points however, is asinine.

                  1. dumbledoresacubsfan

                    I agree with you. You do have to earn respect as a human being to be respected. However, I think everyone deserves the same respect of getting his or her name correct.

                    Yes, he made a mistake and named Kris Bryant, one of our top prospects, Matt Bryant. Who cares?

                    What I was getting at originally was that someone who professes to know so much about the organization and its future should know the names of the prospects. One who professes themselves as the fortune teller of the team should know the names of those involved. That’s all I was saying.

                    Yes, in my opinion, he lost credibility in point two because he got the name wrong. Did it make me stop reading? Yes. Did I go back and read it anyways? Yes.

                    1. Funn Dave

                      “…one who professes themselves….”

                      If you’re going to make this much of a stink over getting someone’s name wrong, you should avoid making your own grammatical mistakes while you’re at it.

                  2. Funn Dave

                    No one deserves respect just for existing? Now that’s asinine. Everyone deserves respect until he or she does something to lose that respect.

                    1. Pat

                      I believe you are thinking of courtesy. Respect is earned, always has been.

                    2. MichiganGoat

                      I’m sure everyone will disagree with this but respect is another subjective term we loosely throw around like it has a universal meaning. What one person calls respect is not another persons definition but we love to throw the word around. We constantly say “you’ve got to respect me” “you’ve got to have respect” but these phrases assume that everyone has the same value attached to the definiton of respect. And that is just flatly not true and impossible to assume. What it means to respect someone/thing changes between groups of all sorts.

                      Just my observations after years of working in public education. We throw that word around way to loosely and then scream when “respect” is not happening. Instead of asking for an abstract concept like respect ask for specific behaviors and expectations. Abstract words equal abstract and bizarre actions.

                2. baldtaxguy

                  It called an error – something that I’ve noticed is never tolerated nowadays, no matter how immaterial, and made into something more than what it actually is.

                  1. dumbledoresacubsfan

                    It was, essentially, the same thing as saying you know everything about your favorite book and getting one of the main character’s names wrong.

                    It decreases credibility and that’s what I wanted to point out. A small, immaterial error can have a big impact.

                    The fact of the whole matter is that I agree with almost everything he said. Although I envision improvement a year earlier in 2015.

                    1. Ian Afterbirth

                      You are hilarious.

                      I’ve gotten my wife’s name wrong.

                      My grandmother often called me by my uncle’s name.

                      Do you seriously equate a typo with a lack of depth of knowledge????

                      If so, your “credibility” is zero with me.

                    2. Pat

                      You didn’t say it “decreased” credibility, you said it nullified it.

                      “I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re not very knowledgeable about the team and its future when you can’t get one of the top prospects’ name correct.”

                      “You lost your credibility in point 2, regardless of whether or not your argument is sound”

                      To your response above, Bryant is not one of the main characters. He’s not even in the story yet. He likely will be at some point, but that is at least a year out, and a lot can change in a year.

                3. YourResidentJag

                  Judging by your avatar and your age…you still think the world’s a perfect place…don’t you? ;)

                  1. dumbledoresacubsfan


                    Maybe it needs smarter, smiling, young people to run it instead of old guys who are so stuck up themselves and pessimistic that they don’t know right from left. ;)

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      Ah the hubris of youth vs. apathy of adulthood is an epic war that will never end.

          2. cub2014

            The cubs need to put a near winning team on
            the field starting in 2014:

            1 Theo knows it (he only has a couple
            years on his contract)
            2 Ricketts knows it (its killing his bottom
            3 They will sign at least 1 long term asset
            for 2014 (they signed 1 last year and they
            new they were going to loose) If they sign
            the right 2 the Cubs will be at least a 500
            4 Baez and Bryant will probably be up this
            year (Lake and Olt or Valbuena will hold
            those spots for them until then)
            5 Relief core will be much better to start next
            6. They will add a starter (either a flip asset
            or if they can get the right guy they will go for
            a TOR) and they have a couple starters who
            could be called up in 2014 (hendricks/edwards)
            So starting will be as good to start the season.
            7. Castillo is improving, Castro will rebound, Barney
            should go back to his career numbers (.250 but
            might get traded) and Rizzo wont be as confused
            and should rebound to some degree.

            So they could easily improve by 10-15 wins if they
            get a couple OB guys. They arent going to wait
            until 2016 or 2017 to make their move.

            1. caryatid62

              So basically, your argument is that the absolutely best-case scenarios will happen in every aspect of the Major League team because, as you stated “Theo knows it” and “Ricketts knows it” has to happen.

              I’m happy to go with what I actually see happening, not speculation based upon what I believe the FO and ownership “knows.”

              1. cub2014

                what do you see happening? what
                do you know? ricketts and theo know
                that you can build a team and sign
                FA at the same time.

                we know they signed a long term
                contract last year if you are building
                towards a winner it makes sense that
                you would add a couple (if they fit the
                plan) of long term assets for this year.

                Your assesment of Baez and mine are
                a couple of months off (As I said if he
                continues to hit). Your assesment of
                Bryant was accepted in Aug but now
                over his recent success many pundits
                are predicting Bryant will be in Chicago
                in Sept 2014 instead of in 2015.

                Castro and Barney more than likely will
                return to their career numbers. So where
                was I way off?

                So we are pretty close.

                1. caryatid62

                  No, we’re not.

                  1. Edwards will not be up in 2014. He just made it to High-A ball.
                  2. The only real long-term asset available is Tanaka, and his signing is questionable at best. It’ll be a really tough sell and take a lot of money–money the Cubs have said they don’t have (relative to teams like NYY and LA).
                  3. We have no idea whether or not Castro will return to his career numbers. Even if Barney returned to his career numbers, he’s still a VERY below average MLB hitter.
                  4. I haven’t seen a single “pundit” say Bryant is scheduled for 2014. He could do it, but it likely won’t be before September.

                  All of this evidence says that the team will likely be terrible and boring for most of 2014, moderately interesting in 2015, and possibly contending for a wild card spot in 2016.

                  1. cub2014

                    edwards certainly could make
                    it up in 2014 but agreed that is
                    a long shot. but you missed the
                    point that the starting pitching will
                    be as good with quality kids not to
                    far way.

                    As I said Barney if he does hit like
                    his career numbers, he will probably
                    be traded. But I think Castro will break
                    out next year. Whereas, Rizzo I just
                    have no clue on what he really is.

                    there are FA out their like Choo
                    and others that fit the plan of OBP,
                    versatility that only require 5 yr or
                    less contracts.

                    I have seen several say Bryant
                    will start at AA skip AAA and be
                    in Chicago in Sept (if he continues

                    So I look for the 2014 Cubs to be
                    around 500. I also expect the Reds
                    and Pirates to slide next year. Its a
                    tall order but I think the Cubs (if they
                    make a couple moves) will be
                    interesting next year.

                    1. cub2014

                      Cubs have been mentioned as
                      heavily involved in: Tanaka,Price,
                      Arroyo,Choo & Lincecum. They
                      have been mentioned on Ellsbury
                      and Gonzalez. They almost signed
                      Sanchez last year, they went after
                      Darvish. Your arent going to sign
                      all these guys there are other teams
                      trying to sign them but I think they
                      are going after several and might
                      sign a couple.

                    2. Kyle

                      We’re going to get soooo many second places on free agents this year. It won’t help anything, but it’ll be quite exciting and show how serious they are.

                    3. hansman1982

                      Thank God old Kyle is back. I was starting to get confused.

                    4. DarthHater

                      Yea, reading the other Kyle was like watching the final, sad seasons of All in the Family, when they tried to make Archie Bunker more sympathetic.

                  2. Kyle

                    I’m gloriously multifaceted.

          3. Brains

            This is right, but I think just due to how chance and fortune effect outcomes that we’re not even talking until 2018 under Theo’s “plan”. He’ll have grandchildren, a few of you will have died, and the tea party will have formed their own country that will degrade into Lord of the Flies somewhere in Texas before we’ll be .500 again.

            We can be patient, but let’s be serious here, we’re getting dicked around. The means are there, just not the will. Just like congress and our budget crisis. Ricketts is the Republican congress of baseball winning.

            1. cub2014

              i would gladly take a libertarian run
              country. As far as I am concerned
              the Democrats and the Republicans
              need to all leave Washington they’ve
              been there long enough.

              Why did Ricketts buy the Cubs?
              to loose money for a tax shelter?
              ….i dont think so
              to resell the cubs and turn a profit?
              ….the value has dropped
              to make his hometown team a perennial
              ….thats what he says, so he hired theo
              who has a plan. what is the plan?

              step 1 eliminate bad contracts
              step 2 build up minor
              in process
              step 3 re-brand the cubs
              (change culture,upgrade facilities
              in chicago and around the world)
              in process
              step 4 have a winner in chicago
              not yet

              so layoff Ricketts and give Theo another
              year or so before we believe they have
              some ridiculous plan to put a low payroll
              looser on the field.

              1. Brains

                I agree with a few of these points, but in fact the Ricketts are making huge profits this year by heavily curtailing salary and effectively paying themselves back for a loan that they gave themselves. So lets not regurgitate PR rhetoric and just be real that these guys are businessmen who see the team as a commodity. I find it distasteful, Theo is mostly business minded though I’m sure he wouldn’t mind some glory, and some of you are just plain confused about what it means to value owner profits over team flourishing.

                1. cub2014

                  wins and profits go hand in hand.
                  big payrolls dont necessarily translate
                  to lost profits. loosing does translate
                  to lost revenues so it is a balance.
                  but you are right, ricketts must turn
                  a profit to have a successful franchise.
                  Keep in mind many entrepenuers
                  that have multiple businesses have
                  sentimental companies, that as long
                  as they arent loosing them money
                  they are ok with that, especially
                  knowing that mlb team like the cubs
                  is a great long term investment

                  1. Brains

                    I think this is right on, actually. A baseball team is usually bought by a billionaire as a vanity investment in which they make plenty of money, but their primary income usually comes from elsewhere. The Ricketts’ seem to be treating the team as a primary investment and are more interested in short term profits than short term legacy.

                    Too much business, not enough baseball. Also Mark Cuban is more handsome.

          4. baseballet

            That’s a good summary.

    2. Jono

      You don’t need to spend the big bucks on season tickets to see the cubs

  5. Die hard

    If Cubs declining attendance continues at same pace then in 5 years they will be in lower half of Major League Baseball — that would be unprecedented for this franchise and best reason to move team to another city where tax breaks and other concessions to new owner would make too tempting to pass up

    1. Caryatid62

      If any team in MLB whose attendance fell this year (including BOS and NYY) had five consecutive years of declining attendance at an equivalent rate, they’d be in the lower half of MLB. That’s a ridiculous premise.

    2. Jono

      If attendance keeps dropping at this pace, it’ll eventually reach 0! Not a single person will show up!

      1. DarthHater


    3. MichiganGoat


      It’s a silly place

    4. DarthHater

      From August to September this year, Castro’s OPS increased by .107. If it continues to increase at that rate, then in five years his OPS will be over 3.000! WOO-HOO!! GO CUBS!!!

  6. James

    Attendance has been dropping at most ballparks around baseball. People in general don’t have the money to spend like they had ten years ago. In the long term the Cubs are doing the right thing by developing a farm system. The Cubs will bring up waves of talenet by the end of 2014 and 2015. With the talent coming up and a low payroll it won’t be long for the Cubs to compete. It seems like everybody wants the Cubs to spend on free-agents past the prime or trade away all there young talent for David Price. As Cubs fans we want short term gains which might give us a season or two at the most. The way there going about it should make the Cubs good for ten years plus. Before the season started people were all writing about trading away Javier Baez and Soler. Now it looks like Javier Baez will be your answer at short stop for the furture.

    1. caryatid62

      The following sentences in your post are either mostly or completely false:

      1. Attendance has been dropping at most ballparks around baseball.
      2. It seems like everybody wants the Cubs to spend on free-agents past the prime or trade away all there young talent for David Price.
      3. As Cubs fans we want short term gains which might give us a season or two at the most.
      4. Before the season started people were all writing about trading away Javier Baez and Soler.

  7. James

    I;m sorry you feel that way. What I said isn’t false. Pull up past post on this site were it seemed were most people wanted Baez and Solar traded. Second look up attendance all over baseball and you will see the numbers have fallen at most ball parks. So you can disagree with what I said but please back it up with facts.

    1. DarthHater

      You want facts? Fine. From 2012 to 2013, attendance declined at 15 ballparks and increased at 15 ballparks.

      So, gee, I guess what you said was false. And then when you said it wasn’t false, that was also false. And just in case you need facts to back that up, I refer you to your previous posts.

    2. caryatid62

      I looked up both these things, and they’re still false:

      In year-over-year attendance, 15 teams have higher attendance and 15 have lower since 2012. Since 2010, 24 are up, and 6 are down. It’s actually the opposite of your statement:

      A quick search of the site finds only one reference of the term “trade soler” occurring before this season:

      Searching “trade Baez” finds only two instances where someone advocated for trading Baez before 2013, and once was for Giancarlo Stanton and the other was for David Price:

      So yes, your statements are false.

    3. caryatid62

      I think my initial comment had too many links in it, so I’m reposting without the links:

      I looked up both these things, and they’re still false:

      In year-over-year attendance, 15 teams have higher attendance and 15 have lower since 2012. Since 2010, 24 are up, and 6 are down. It’s actually the opposite of your statement.

      A quick search of the site finds only six references to “trade soler” occurring before this season. Looking specifically at those instances, only one actually advocated for the trade of Soler.

      Searching “trade Baez” finds only two instances on this site where someone advocated for trading Baez before 2013, and once was for Giancarlo Stanton and the other was for David Price.

      So yes, your statements are false.

  8. James

    I pulled the attendance numbers for the last 10 years. From last year 2013 compared to 2012 there were 13 teams down in attendance. 9 teams were close to ther 2012 attendance numbers. A total of 8 teams were up. Looking over all the major league teams and numbers are down over a ten year peroid. I don’t see that major change in the Cubs attedence. Sure you might see a bump in attandance if they through out a contander. Is it worth gutting an farm system and having a payroll thats out of control. What do you think the Cubs might get by doing this maybe one or two years of being good. I rather bring up talent every year and compete every year just like the Cardinals.

    1. MichiganGoat

      So you’re refuting you initial arguement that “Attendance has been dropping at most ballparks around baseball”?

      Because you just showed that attendance is not down at most ballpark.

    2. caryatid62

      Once again, that is not true. From 2012-2013: 15 teams up, 15 teams down.

      Your ten year facts are wrong, too. Only 9 teams are down from 2003, while 21 are up. Total attendance is up 7 million people total from 2003 (source: ballparksofbaseball dot com).

      Your entire premise (attendance is down) is wrong, and proven wrong by pure numbers. You can have your own opinion, but not your own facts.

  9. James

    Michigan Goat I’m not refuting my inital statement attendance in baseball has been down over the last ten years. You can see spikes in attendence and also declines in attendence People in general are making less money then they have in the past. Unemployement numbers are still very high and under employed numbers are out of control. Were I have a beef is with the Cubs and other teams is when they start raiseing ticket prices. Ticket prices are out of control. Were I think baseball cut there wist was with expansion back in the 90′s. I argue that there really is no more major cities that can support a baseball team. If I was a betting man I see baseball detracking baseball teams in the future.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Yes you did. As other posters have pointed out baseball attendance is not suffering it’s been a good year for the MLB. Now the points about people not having money, struggling economy, unemployment are true- many people are still struggling (and in Michigan we are still hurting but things are improving) but MLB is doing very well. But all this does not equal your claim and premise that “attendance has been dropping at most ballparks around baseball” that is simply not true and you refuted that by your own research; therefore, any conclusions you are trying to create from your flawed premise are invalid.

      1. caryatid62

        Interesting sidenote: The ballpark in which the largest 2003-2013 jump has occurred is Comerica.

        Says a lot about the fact that baseball (especially high-quality and/or contending baseball), as an entertainment source, is fairly impervious to a lot of negative economic factors.

      2. Brains

        I do think that baseball is on the verge of being too expensive for fans. What we’ll see is a weird combination of yuppies paying insane ticket prices, and slews and slews of fans buying last second tickets off of stubhub for cheap. It’ll be a huge disparity in paid ticket prices. But people will still go to games. Maybe not as often.

        Compound a sluggish economy and inexplicable cost with a team that can’t bother to compete and there is some danger for the Cubs in terms of revenues. But fans are so dedicated that I doubt it’ll last.

    2. DarthHater

      “attendance in baseball has been down over the last ten years.”

      2003 total attendance: 67,630,052
      2013 total attendance: 74,025,895

      Now let’s do the math: 74,025,895 – 67,630,052 = You’re being an idiot.

      1. Jono

        Those are just numbers, darth

        1. caryatid62

          I hear the jury’s still out on…science.

          –Gob Bluth

        2. DarthHater


          1. turn two

            I feel like looking back on your posts you spent your entire day doing nothing but sitting here arguing this same silly point. Do you feel better?

            1. DarthHater

              Actually, I was at work getting a lot of work done and only occasionally dropping in here. It’s not like it takes a whole of time or effort to demonstrate the factual vacuity of some of the stuff that gets posted here.

              At any rate, there were a bunch of people here arguing the same silly point. I do believe it’s called participating in a baseball blog. True, it’s not the most exciting or important activity in the world, but if it bores you so much, you should feel free to get back to conducting a visual examination of the interior of your large intestine.

              1. DarthHater

                Whole *lot* of time

              2. turn two

                Classic, love how those that like to criticize the most on here can’t take the slightest barb themselves. Just messin with ya a little,i apologize if you were offended.

                1. DarthHater

                  What? You think I criticize everybody because i’m NOT an a-hole? :-P

      2. Funn Dave

        You guys really have no problem completely ignoring James’ “over the last ten years” clause? You’re that desperate to “prove” him wrong?

    3. MichiganGoat

      So James here you are at a crossroads. On one path you can continue to ignore facts, move goalposts, or become aggressive to those that disagree with you, and on the 2nd you can admit where your logic went wrong, be a solid contributor to BN, and continue a rational discussion on the frustrations of teams raising ticket prices and making hard for many people (including myself) to attend live MLB games. I think your frustration over ticket prices created a false premise that attendance was done, but it is completely wrong. So which path will you travel down?

    4. danimal8

      Citation or it didn’t happen

      1. danimal8

        ^ James, not you Goat

  10. cub2014

    yankees cubs mets are 3 front runners
    for Tanaka. The posting system is going
    to change this year, where the 3 highest
    bidders would get a chance to negotiate
    with Tanaka instead of just 1 team. Changes
    to the system are coming in the next couple

  11. cub2014

    Ya Theo is brilliant according to Kyle.
    So brilliant he will be right in the bidding
    on all these FA but we will finish second
    because he will offer just less than the
    one team that beats us out on any FA?
    huh? really?

  12. Jono

    Am I sick because I enjoy seeing a team in red colors getting beat tonight, especially falling to 2-0 in their series? If only it was the rangers (blue and red) instead of the tigers.

    I think I have a problem. I need a nice long offseason

    1. Jono

      I guess that should be 0-2 instead of 2-0. [Sigh] Like it even matters.

  13. Blackhawks1963

    Everybody has an emotionally charged opinion on the building strategy and time table. I for one am 100% behind what Theo Epstein is trying to do, because after 40 plus years of watching this franchise try to pretend contend I’ve had enough. Take a look at nearly every franchise that is consistently successful in major league baseball and they all have one thing in common…a historically strong farm system that consistently pumps out talent that feeds the big league club and/or is used in trades to acquire other pieces. You can’t buy yourself a championship. I utterly refute that premise. Even the free spending Yankees owe their 5 World Series championships since 1996 to the backbone of a strong farm system that pumped out Bernie Wiliams, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Robby Cano, Andy Pettitte, Mo Rivera and multiple others that either played for the Yankees or where used in key trades.

    Theo Epstein inherited a mess from Genius Jim Hendry. Hendry became addicted to free agency and bad contracts as the way to try and win because his farm system was consistently inadequate. But in two short years Theo, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have presided over a wholesale metamorphsis of the Cub minor league system. The payoff is coming soon. And I believe the significant spending that will be required at the big league level to support things.

    Attendance? Of course Ricketts and Epstein had eyes wide open to the fact that the building strategy would translate into a substantial attendance decline in the short-term. Don’t for a second think they didn’t understand that fielding a terrible 2012 and 2013 club while the building was going on in the background wouldn’t result in a big attendance hit. They aren’t stupid. Surely they factored in temporary loss of ticket revenue into the math of what they are doing. But we also know that once this thing is “competitive” and turns the corner (which I think is 2014) then history tells us that Cub fans will be lined up for miles to buy tickets and at premium prices.

    1. jeff1969

      Well said Blackhawks. Being a 44 year old Cub fan, born in the middle of the 1969 season, and having seen many many bad teams, managers, & front offices, I really appreciate what Theo & Co. are doing. The only other FO to address our talent development in a meaningful way was Dallas Green’s Building a New Tradition crew. Many of our beloved & most relevant Cubs come from this era via trades or being drafted: Sandberg, Grace, Palmeiro, Moyer, Maddux, etc. Hendry did a decent job imo, under the circumstances. As a fan I am willing to wait & give this current FO a chance.

    2. Jono


    3. Napercal

      I agree completely with your evaluation of what Theo is doing with the farm system. I also do not support signing high-priced free agents just to make everyone feel good. That simply doesn’t work. I do think that they can put a more competitive product on the field than what we have been subjected to for the past two seasons. That is a reasonable expectation. I can name 7 -10 players who played consistently this past season who had no business being on a major league roster. If Theo is the genius we all want him to be, he can find more talented, fairly inexpensive players to put on the field now. More Schierholz and DeJesus, less Cody Ransom and Darnell MacDonald.

  14. Funn Dave

    If anyone ever asks for the definition of pandering, feel free to refer him or her to this letter.

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