Hefty Tax on Cubs Tickets Won’t Increase for 2014 and Other Bullets

cubs ticketsThe Red Sox poured it on early against Adam Wainwright last night, winning Game One of the World Series 8-1 (partly thanks to a correctly overturned call (Pete Kozma clearly dropped a throw at second base, just before a bases-clearing double), which Mike Matheny still found occasion to argue and then complain about after the game). Moreover for the Cardinals, Carlos Beltran severely bruised his ribs on a grand slam-robbing catch in the second inning last night, and was then removed from the game. His status going forward is unclear, and it would be a serious blow to the Cardinals to lose a guy who is among the best postseason hitters in baseball history. I guess, more importantly, he’s just a very good hitter.

  • Your 2014 Cubs tickets won’t be increasing dramatically in price, either because of a Cubs increase or a tax increase. The latter was a concern, given discussions about a bump-up in the amusement tax levied on large venue tickets (already 9%, one of the highest ticket taxes in the country), but Greg Hinz reports that, for 2014, the amusement tax will remain unchanged. Likely helping the case to leave the amusement tax where it is? A surprising surplus in City revenues tied to the ticket tax, likely thanks to the Blackhawks and Bulls. If the Cubs were good again, that would be another huge boon. Hey, there’s another reason for the City to want to help the Cubs become good long-term!
  • Carrie Muskat with a great profile on Kris Bryant. Tons of information, quotes, compliments. Bryant also further explained his draft day comments about playing for the Cubs right away. He was simply saying that you’ve got to have confidence in yourself if you’re going to succeed in baseball.
  • Jesse Rogers profiles Bryant together with Albert Almora, and hears a huge volume of praise for the Cubs’ prospects. It sounds like everyone – scouts, executives – loves what they’re seeing from Bryant, in particular. How could you not, given the absurd numbers he’s putting up in the AFL? Rogers also interviewed Almora and Bryant in video form.
  • In yesterday’s AFL action, Bryant went 1-5 with a double, and Wes Darvill went 1-4. It was a low-scoring 2-1 loss by Mesa (after starting unable to lose, they are suddenly unable to win), and no Cubs pitchers were in action.
  • Although Bryant and Almora are getting the Arizona love, while Jorge Soler seems to get nothing but grief, at least one pundit is still plenty high on Soler – Jim Callis says he’d take Soler for the future over big-time Cuban signee Jose Abreu, who just got $68 million from the White Sox. There are a dozen legitimate excuses for Soler’s slow AFL start with the bat (hasn’t played much the last three years, getting over a long-term injury, first time facing upper-level pitchers, hilariously small sample size, etc.), but, in the apologizing, it’s easy to forget: this is a guy who is expected to be a quality defensive outfielder, too. That has value, and that part is harder to see in the numbers.
  • While C.J. Edwards won the MiLB.com staff-selected pitcher of the year award, fellow Cubs pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks finished second – behind Giants prospect Ty Blach – in the fan voting for the same award.
  • If you were into the salary escalation piece I wrote yesterday in the wake of the Tim Lincecum deal, you will be very into a FanGraphs piece on a related topic: how front offices are valuing starting pitchers.

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

98 responses to “Hefty Tax on Cubs Tickets Won’t Increase for 2014 and Other Bullets”

  1. Eric

    Bryant is quite impressive. I expect we’ll be seeing him very soon. Add him and Baez to the lineup and suddenly the upcoming *season would look quite different.

    *I know they won’t be with the Cubs at the start of next season, if any next season, calm down.

    1. TheDondino

      I wouldn’t expect to see Bryant until late Summer, if at all, since he has a few levels to get through before the call to Chicago. But Baez should be starting in AAA next year and unless the wheels fall off that train (or a trade occurs) I would be shocked if we don’t see him in Chicago next summer, probably before the All-Star break.

      1. CubFan Paul

        “..since he has a few levels to get through before the call to Chicago”

        If he starts the season in Tennessee (& mashes), Bryant will be a phone call away from Wrigley.

        1. JM

          While I WANT to agree with you, I can’t shake the feeling that Theo and Co. will be very slow in bringing guys up. Slower than any of us would like.

          1. X The Cubs Fan

            He’s a college player, they’re supposed to fly through the system. He’s almost ready half a year at AA and this guy should be up.

      2. ssckelley

        Top prospects coming out of college do not need always need to work through the minor league system. The only guarantee we have is that due to player control he will start somewhere in the minors next season, beyond that it is anyone’s guess when he shows up in Chicago. It could be as early as next May. He is a year older than Baez and has 3 years of college experience already under his belt and now about 1/2 season of professional ball while Baez has about 2 years of professional ball. It is possible Bryant could arrive at the same time or even before Baez.

  2. Brian Peters

    Brett, if the commish insists upon a blackout of major news during the WS, please tell me why the Dodgers were able to get away with announcing Mattingly’s “return”?

    1. Jono

      wasn’t that before the game last night?

    2. ETS

      Speaking of Commish, now that Bud has officially set a retirement date, is Joe torre the front runner to replace him?

      1. On The Farm

        Joe Torre was on the Dan Patrick show yesterday and he said something to the effect of: I am in my 70s, my wife was excited when I retired from managing.

        I took it as, he is in his 70s and baseball doesn’t need another old commissioner. Baseball needs to get younger. Also, it kind of sounded like he wouldn’t want the time commitment that being manager would require. I think he is looking forward to actually retiring soon.

        1. ETS

          What’s this job pay?
          Unless you’re crooked.

          1. ETS

            Sorry, not completely applicable, but sometimes I see the world only through Simpson references.

            1. Coop

              I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      2. ssckelley

        I think MLB should give Billy Beane a look for the next commissioner.

  3. Jono

    The umpires shouldn’t have overturned that call because the cardinals have the best fans in sports. They know baseball.

  4. Spoda17

    I would be interested to hear Luke’s take on all of this press Bryant, Almora, and Soler are getting.

    The cool thing is it’s not just Cub homers praising them, most of the other team scouts in baseball are commenting on them without even being asked… Pretty exciting.

    1. Luke

      I’m watching with interest, but I’m not one to get excited (or depressed) by small sample sizes.

      A series of more in depth prospect profiles is coming after the World Series concluded, similar to what I wrote last year. That’s when I’ll start digging a little more into the numbers on these guys.

      1. Spoda17

        Cool, I look forward to it Luke.

  5. MichaelD

    When they gave the out on that play I thought the neighborhood play had been expanded to include “in the neighborhood of catching the ball”.

  6. Myles

    Still can’t believe they gave Fontenot’s number to Kris Bryant. Sheesh.

    1. Brian Peters

      Oh, Myles, go jump in a pile of catnip!

    2. hansman

      First the Ron Santo oversized card debacle and now THIS????

      What in the Sam Hell is going on at Wrigley?

      1. JM

        Card debacle? To what do you refer?

    3. King Jeff

      Still can’t believe you wrote an article proclaiming the Cards greatness and how you were cheering for them to win the World Series, and Brett actually posted it.

      1. ssckelley

        lmao, me neither.

        At least both of them survived being pelted with stones.

      2. Myles

        That was so yesterday.

  7. Brian Peters

    Again, Matheny said “This is not how we play ball.” Why can’t he tip his cap to Lester and the Sox?

  8. ari gold

    He’s probably talking about the dozen errors they committed.

  9. CubsFaninMS

    It appears that Jorge Soler, out of the Big Four, in shaping into perhaps the one with the lowest potential floor. I still believe he has as high of a ceiling as Almora, though, except with obviously different tools. Almora looks to be the relatively high ceiling with relatively high floor (the non-pitching version of Pierce Johnson if you will). Baez’s swing and being error-prone thus far in his minor league career make him a higher risk, but it is certain that his bat will connect for some very hard hit balls in the Majors. The question is: How often will that be? Initially, with small sample size taken into account, I’m unsure why Kris Bryant is being lumped into the same category as Baez in terms of swing-and-miss. Bryant has a smoother, more controlled swing that appears to be closer to Albert Belle than Dave Kingman.

    1. CubsFaninMS

      *lets use Ken Griffey for a bat comparison for Kris Bryant instead of Albert Belle.

    2. CubFan Paul

      “It appears that Jorge Soler, out of the Big Four, in shaping into perhaps the one with the lowest potential floor..”

      Slow down, he had a leg injury. You can’t stay in “baseball shape” with a leg injury. If Soler stays healthy next year, he’ll prove his worth.

      1. Professor Snarks

        I have my questions about Soler, but I have to agree with Paul. Let’s see what happens with 500 ab’s in a season.

        1. hansman

          Remember last spring when he he and Baez duked it out for the #1 prospect status? Small sample sizes do not exist in prospect valuation.

          1. Professor Snarks

            I was talking more about continuous playing time, not statistics. I also thing Soler got a reputation push from his spring training performance, which was, as far as I can tell, due solely to impressive batting practices. That was unfair to him.

            1. hansman

              I was using the absurd to show that the only thing we can take away from this AFL outing is that we should be bummed he isn’t getting AB’s right now.

              1. CubsFaninMS

                My viewpoint on Soler is not simply from his body of work in the AFL and the recent comments made by scouts. My viewpoint developed looking at his overall body of work so far. The other day I mentioned that if Soler puts it together, he has the upside of a Derrek Lee. I still believe that and hope he gets there.

        2. ETS

          Soler started this season keeping pace with Baez only without striking out as much. I’m not going to scream the sky is falling over a slow return in a dozen ABs during the AFL. (That’s not to say that Soler is “can’t miss” or that he is the level of Baez, I’m just agreeing that after some more ABs then we can decide.)

          I’m not super sold on Almora. I keep hearing words like polished, but he’s a slow centerfielder without a ton of power that strikes out alot. I’m happy scouts are seeing good things, but I’m still worried his ceiling is a bit over sold.

          1. Cubbie Blues

            Almora in no way “strikes out a lot”. He has a 13.2 K% for his career.

            1. ETS

              I apologize. I meant to say can’t take a walk, not k’s too much.

              His career IsoD is 0.032 .

              1. On The Farm

                That’s because he can make contact with just about everything thrown at him. You don’t need to be selective if the ball looks like a beach ball.

                1. ETS

                  I seem to recall people saying that about Castro and after his first year, MLB pitchers have him pretty well figured out.

                  1. On The Farm

                    Castro’s BA for the first three seasons: .300, .307, .283. He is more than just a one year wonder.

                    1. ETS

                      I’ll give you that, and we are getting further and further away from my main point which isn’t that Almora is bad or that Castro is bad but is that I’m still more excited for Soler next year than Almora.

                    2. Cubbie Blues

                      But, you were saying it by trying to point out flaws with Almora. As one of the AFL coaches said, he has flaws, but they are flaws that a 23 year old would have, he’s 19.

              2. ssckelley

                His walk rate increased significantly this season, I do not think this is going to be an issue. Almora can flat out hit and has power potential, remember, he is only 19 years old.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  Actually, what increased was the proportion of PAs where he didn’t make contact. Almora’s first year was unreal: he put the ball in play in 130 of 145 PAs. It must have seemed like batting practice to him. Of course, it’s tough to draw walks if you put balls into play that well.

                  This year, he dropped back to 225 of 272 PAs in which he put the ball into play. Notably, his K rate is indistinguishable: it was drawing walks that made the difference. I don’t think that this meant that he was being “more selective”: instead, I think that it means that it didn’t look like BP to him anymore.

                  1. ssckelley

                    You have no way to prove this. Even if the pitching looks like batting practice he can still learn to work the count more and draw more walks by laying off bad pitches.

                    1. Cubbie Blues

                      The purpose to working the count is to find a pitch you can drive. If you can drive the first pitch, so be it.

                    2. ssckelley

                      Yep, I agree with that. It drives me nuts when I see hitters take a pitch right down the middle just to try and draw a walk. By working the count I meant finding better pitches to hit, not just hitting everything just because you can.

                    3. Cubbie Blues

                      I didn’t say hit it just because you can. I said, “If you can drive the first pitch, so be it.” If you can drive a ball it doesn’t really matter where the location of the pitch is. He had a .376 OBP and .842 OPS. I think he did just fine.

                    4. ssckelley

                      I did not mention anything about pitch location. Whatever pitches he can drive, I want him swinging at more of those. Is that better?

                    5. Cubbie Blues

                      You said “I meant finding better pitches to hit, not just hitting everything just because you can.”
                      Then why did he need to work the count more?
                      As to location: “It drives me nuts when I see hitters take a pitch right down the middle”
                      If you aren’t talking about location of pitches, why else should he “work a count”?

                    6. DocPeterWimsey

                      “Prove it”? No, it’s a highly likely explanation. (Nothing is “provable”: things are likely or unlikely given data.) Issues about learning how to work counts are completely irrelevant: it’s quite obvious that pitchers could not get the ball past Almora in his first year.

                      Other explanations are much less likely. Always go with “likely.”

          2. hansman

            “slow centerfielder without a ton of power that strikes out alot”

            Only 1 of these is correct.

          3. On The Farm

            “he’s a slow centerfielder”

            Doesn’t matter if he is slow (for a CF) but take’s good routes to the ball. That’s what makes his defense so good. And Cubbie Blues has the aformentioned Almora actually has a low K%. I mean if Almora strikes out a lot then that mean Baez and Bryant are pretty much doomed.

            1. ETS

              You put up with more K’s from power hitters, but you’re right, his K rate isn’t alarming. I completely botched that one. And his speed doesn’t put his defense isn’t in question, but he’s never going to steal a ton of bags.

              I’m hope I’m wrong. I don’t think he is a terrible prospect. I just think the ceiling is more like an everyday starter than it is perennial all star.

              1. On The Farm

                Do you want to know the top five teams in SBs this year? Royals, Rangers, Brewers, Red Sox, Padres. 6-10: Indians, Yankees, Mets, Rockies, Jays. (the Cardinals and Tigers were 29 and 30)

                Of the top 10 in SB on the Sox and Indians made the playoffs. The art of the SB aren’t as important as you think. I don’t care if Almora can’t steal second if he hits enough doubles to just start on second.

                1. DocPeterWimsey

                  In some ways, I blame fantasy baseball for this idea: in a lot of fantasy leagues, a SB is worth as much as a HR. In real baseball, they are not even close to being equal. (A single + SB is still worth less than a double because that combo has a lower chance of driving in other runners and a slightly lower chance of scoring.)

                  1. JM

                    This is much the same arguement I would make, but from a different vantage. Because of sabre metrics, a guy that has the ability to take a walk, steal a base, then score on a hit is way more under-valued than the guy that got the hit. There are aspects of the game that cannot be measured. Wreaking havoc on a pitcher’s phyche can help a team win as much as a homer can. Statistically speaking it doesn’t, but psycologically, I believe it does.

                    1. hansman

                      The fun part, through statistical analysis of things that have actually occurred in the game, it has been determined that baserunners do not “Wreak havoc on a pitcher’s phyche”.

                      Now, this is actually looking at and, objectively, measuring what occurs when there is a runner on 1st base and comparing the result from guys with high SB totals with the Prince Fielders of the world.

                    2. DocPeterWimsey

                      Sure they can be measured: how do they correlate with runs scored? If these things “wreaked havoc” as some assert, then there would be a strong correlation between stealing more bases and scoring more runs.

                      No such correlation exists, however. The difference is this: if a pitcher pitches poorly after a SB, then we blame the SB. If he pitches poorly without a SB, then we blame something else. The simpler explanation is that a guy was pitching poorly and that the SB just happened.

                    3. JM

                      I’ll have to reply this way, since neither Hansman nor Doc’s post has a reply button.

                      I have a lot to learn about using metrics as a way to measure a player, beyond traditional statistics. Yet I hear and read time and again about the mental aspect of a game, the importance of understanding the situation, or the lack of concentrarion of a player. Mostly these comments are from current or former players.

                      I think it is dangerous to only view a players worth through numbers only. They are humans, not machines.

                    4. JM

                      Oh, by the way Doc, stolen bases don’t “just happen”.

                    5. Cubbie Blues

                      They are humans, but the situations you laid out can be analyzed to find out if the fast guy actually did put stress on the pitcher with an added benefit.

                    6. JM

                      Cubbie, that is true of anything that happens on the field. Can the same thing be said of errors, walks, interferance, a bad call, or any other thing that happens outside a measurable statistic?

                    7. ClevelandCubsFan

                      If this were true (messing with a guy’s psyche), it could absolutely be measured. Really easily. You could look at OBP, SLG, or just OPS with bases empty vs. runner on first. You could further drill that down by isolating the examples of when the runner on first was particularly speedy.

                      Now, to say that it’s as important as a home run, you’d have to determine that the average number of runs scored by a team after getting a man on first base is greater than than the average number of runs score by a team with a homerun plus what happens after that in the inning. (Presumably home runs have some sort of psyche damaging effect too, right?)

                      You MIGHT notice a statistical correlation between OBP and a runner on first, but it’s going to be minor–and probably statistically impossible to separate from chance. It’s absolutely NOT going to be anywhere near the 1+ runs created in the aftermath of a home run.

                2. ETS

                  I dont think stolen bases are hugely important, but if Almora’s power doesn’t translate as he moves up through the system then you would like to have stole base ability to make up for lack of EBH.

                  1. DocPeterWimsey

                    SB simply cannot make up for lack of slugging.

                    1. ETS

                      Not completely.

                      Saying having stolen base ability to make up for lack of power isn’t the same as saying a guy who steals bases is equally productive to having a power hitter.

                      Ideally you want a guy with power and the ability to get on base, if not you’d like a guy with speed and the ability to get on base. If you have a guy with neither then he is probably Ryan Theriot.

                3. ClevelandCubsFan

                  Interestingly, though, stolen base percentage is more interesting.

                  9 teams stole more than 75% of their bases. 6 of them had winning records, and the other 3 were all better than .450 teams.

                  More interestingly, NO TEAM had less than a 60% steal rate. I think I can recall some Cubs teams of years gone by with 50% rates. This suggests that the whole culture has shifted toward strategic stealing; stealing with a high rate of success. And the teams that do this well TEND to perform better than those that don’t.

                  But high base stealing percentage is not about being fast. It’s about being careful, choosing your moments, and good technique. A good team will be thrilled with a catcher who is 2 for 2 in stolen bases over the guy who is 15 for 28.

      2. CubsFaninMS

        I’m still excited about Soler and am still using a “wait and see” approach, but it’s difficult not to have a slight concern that he’ll head down the path of Josh Vitters: Loads of talent but can never stay healthy. At some point, you have to know when to part ways with those type of players. Obviously it’s WAY too soon to do that with Soler, though.

  10. Werner

    Last night was just so sweet. Please let’s have another tonight. I am hoping for another Kozma error followed by the Best Fans in Baseball booing their own.

    1. D-Rock

      Amen to that. Half way through the game, the cardinal fans I know couldn’t even finishing watching their precious team last night. Some of the biggest fair-weather fans in sports.

  11. On The Farm

    I wonder if they will even let Pete Kozma back in St. Louis.

  12. mjhurdle

    Running theme in STL media this morning is that Lester was using some substance in his glove, and that is why the Cards lost.

    1. D-Rock

      Looks like he was reaching for the ball and then getting ready to throw some kind of off-speed pitch, like a curve or slider. Card fans always have to make up excuses when they lose. It can never be that the other team was better than them.

      1. mjhurdle

        Local morning show said they contacted “a MLB representative” who said, based on that video, they were “90% certain Lester was using a substance called Firm Grip”.

        Gotta love the lengths they will go to not admit they just got beat.

        1. On The Farm

          Well isn’t it obvious he was? I mean his command was way better than Wainwright’s, who lets face it is the best post season pitcher of all time. How could Jon Lester, Jon F’n Lester, out pitch THEE Adam Wainwright? Something just doesn’t add up.

        2. D-Rock
          1. John (the other one)

            Too bad the Cardinals’ fielders weren’t using it.

      2. hansman

        This is the most annoying thing about them, they can’t just lose because they played worse than the other team.

        1. On The Farm

          Yeah, funny how they ignore all those errors they committed. Its probably Pedroia’s fault Kozma didn’t catch the ball on that possible double play.

          1. ETS

            Yeah, well, last night I’m pretty sure Tim McCarver said that nothing was bouncing the Cardinals way – making it sound like bad luck/beyond their control. 2 errors at short, a wild pitch and an infield fly they let drop were well within the Cardinals control. God forbid the announcers just say the Cards are playing like crap tonight.

        2. MichiganGoat

          Or that almost Cub like RISP performance last night.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            Hey, the WS is high leverage from start to finish, and that should nullify the Cards BAwRiSP skill, right?


    2. mjhurdle

      NBC Sports has the story now


      Im going to enjoy reading the whiny comments from Card fans on this.

      1. MichiganGoat

        I blame Myles… maybe if they lose we can call it the Myles Curse.

        1. mjhurdle

          you were on fire on Twitter last night sir :) I was cracking up reading your tweets

  13. DocPeterWimsey

    What we really need is a Yanks-Cards WS: that would be the ultimate Fan Whine Off.

    (Note: the above was hyperbole; we really, really do NOT need that WS…..)

  14. itzscott

    Looks like Rizzo and Castro have been swept aside by the new, latest & greatest face of the Cubs…. Kris Bryant…. even though he’s not even on the team.

    The marketing hype looks to be in full gear promoting him on an almost daily basis now.

    1. On The Farm

      Actually what makes me excited is the thought of having Rizzo and Bryant back-to-back in the lineup. So much extra base hit potential.

    2. Cubbie Blues

      As is the case with any team with a player in the top 10 of MiLB.

  15. Deez

    Condoleeza Rice for Baseball Commissioner.
    They are dying to get her a sports job!

    1. hansman

      I never understood the angst of her being on that football selection committee thing.

  16. RotoChamp

    Well, Soler is 3-3 today and is now batting .289 so maybe the reports of his demise will be recalled, at least temporarily.

    1. Rizzovoir Dog

      Too bad a lot of Cub fans already gave up on him.

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