About that Season Ticket Buying Decision and Other Bullets

wallet cashBlack Friday deals netted: Season Three of ‘The Walking Dead’ for $10, a new tennis racket for 50% off, and some kind of jumping thingy for the kids at a price I’m told is ridiculous. And, if this is any indication, the kids might need something new to play with.

  • Apropos of yesterday’s season ticket renewal discussion (though I happen to know that Josh has been working on his article for a long time), Josh Noel writes for the Tribune about his difficult decision this year with respect to Cubs season tickets. He got the call, finally, after years of waiting, but the struggles of the team in recent years (and projecting in the immediate future) make his decision not the no-brainer he once thought it would be. It’s an interesting read from the perspective of someone wrestling with the decision. Pay big money now for what might be a rough product? Or risk falling off the list and not being able to get back up to the top for another 5 to 10 years?
  • I am quoted in the piece (about 1% of what I said on the subject, but a writer can fit in only so much, and I’m pretty verbose), basically for the proposition that, yeah, it’s a tough decision for folks right now. As you could tell from my post yesterday, though, I definitely fall into the “it’s probably worth sucking it up and buying now, rather than falling off the list and then trying to get season tickets when the Cubs are good again (and it’ll be very difficult to get the tickets)” camp. Some folks gave me grief for that position – PR shill for the Cubs, free advertising, whatever – but it simply happens to be what I think. I am beholden to no one and nothing here beyond my own sense of fairness, honesty and transparency. The wisdom of buying season tickets now to avoid the risk of missing out in a couple years is just, like, my opinion, man.
  • Mike Axisa on the “All Returns” team (i.e., the poor free agent signings last year), which naturally features Edwin Jackson. I still think we’re going to like the contract going forward (because the Cubs paid an $8 million signing bonus up front, Jackson is owed just $33 million over the next three years – a bargain), though. Good thing the Cubs didn’t also sign Jeff Keppinger, Mike Adams, Josh Hamiltons or B.J. Upton, who also make the list, and who were theoretical targets last year.
  • Bruce Miles, writing for Vine Line, with a profile on Nate Schierholtz.
  • The CCO includes, among other things, the transcript of a Darwin Barney interview on MLBN Radio. He says there’s no way he’s going to arbitration, because the sides have a good relationship, and they’ll be able to decide on a fair number. Monday is the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players, which Barney is for the first time this year. Although he’s been mentioned by some as a non-tender candidate, I really don’t see it, given the relatively modest sum he’ll make in arbitration this first go around ($1.5 to $2 million, in my estimation).
  • Speaking of non-tenders, a Cubs official tells Peter Gammons that the team isn’t giving up on Daniel Bard after his disastrous stint in Puerto Rico (in winter ball there, he essentially could not throw any strikes over three appearances). They may not be giving up on him, but I can’t fathom the team using a 40-man roster spot and nearly $2 million on him by tendering him a contract on Monday. Best bet? The sides are already negotiating a deal that would avoid arbitration, and might even involve dropping him off of the 40-man roster.
  • NotGraphs on Theo Epstein hearting recently-acquired back-up catcher George Kottaras.

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

121 responses to “About that Season Ticket Buying Decision and Other Bullets”

  1. CubFan Paul

    Bruce Levine reported on his radio show that the Cubs have offered 5yrs/$55M to Samardzija…

    1. CubFan Paul

      & Bruce’s head isn’t in the sand, like most beatwriters on the extra $26M in revenue from MLB

    2. Kyle

      I wouldn’t even think about taking that if I were Samardzija.

      1. willis

        I wouldn’t either. He could probably get a little more if he holds firm, and worst case he’s traded to a team that can win this decade. Win-win for him. But I can see where the divide is if 5/55 is really all the cubs are offering.

        1. Eternal Pessimist

          Yeah, he’ll make more if he holds firm, and his shoulder holds up…but you just never know about that do you.

          A lot of people buy insurance policies. I have some for life, health, disability, car, etc… I don’t think I will be using most of them for the duration of the police (life or disability), but still I pay the price for them instead of just pocketing the money. Shark is not willing to buy the policy, which is his right, but the cost to him in the end may be for more than he would have spent for the “insurance” of making a deal now.

          1. hansman

            The difference is he has already made enough money so he and his kids will never have to work again. The next two years he stands to double that amount.

            His next two years are the insurance policy that if he busts and doesn’t hit free agency as the top player he will still ride off into the sunset with somewhere between $25-30M in the bank.

            1. Eternal Pessimist

              If he breaks down next year he isn’t even guaranteed the final arbitration year dollars either. I know this is doubtful, but the extension should be far more than all his previous earnings and is a lot of risk to take…though he we be able to afford a good life on his earnings thus far (if he doesn’t have a “posse” and 3-4 baby mamas somewhere).

              1. Pat

                The final arb year is likely to be around 8 mil. Even if he has some sort of injury he’s likely to still see most of that money on a Scott Baker deal from someone.

              2. CubFan Paul

                “(if he doesn’t have a “posse” and 3-4 baby mamas somewhere)”

                Who doesn’t?

  2. Chris Duta

    Re: Season tickets,
    I had the same decision to make last year. I chose to go ahead and pay now instead of falling off the list. Matter of fact, I already paid in full for the upcoming season. I don’t regret one bit. I know the team looks to be going in the right direction.

  3. DarthHater

    You are a shill for fairness, honesty and transparency, Bert. ;-)

  4. cubzfan

    I got season tickets last year. Was on the waiting list since moving back to Illinois seven years earlier. Liked my tickets, not to sorry about the price, and realized I wouldn’t be able to sell the unused ones for much this year. Then I found out I was not going to be able to continue in my job, and we have to move from the state again. In retrospect, I’m glad I did it. It was nice to always know where my seats were, and to be able to say ‘yes’ whenever one of my kids asked to go to a game. Two came with me to the seat selection. One came with me to the free ballpark tour. And five (of the 6) came with me to play catch on the field on Family Day. Dreams come true. Now that I know that I may never live near Chicago again, I’m glad I shelled out the money when I had it and could afford the time to go.

    So, I’m on the waiting list again, just in case. My number is around 80,000 right now. If something strange happens and I end up back closer to Chicago, I shouldn’t have to wait as long to become a STH again. I’m thinking of making it up to myself with biannual trips to either Spring Training or the AZ Fall League, plus going to see the Cubs when they come to a city near me. Or maybe I’ll just go back to attending mostly minor-league games.

    1. 70'scub

      Nice comment from a true Cub Fan, if I was in Chicago I jump on a Cub Package especially with the talent on the way. I get my fix when the Cubs come to Atlanta this year we made some trips up to Knoxville to watch the AA Smokes lots of fun times…

      1. THEOlogical

        Hey 70′s Cub, I try and go to all the series in Atlanta as well. Could I get your gmail acct. and anyone else’s that go to the Braves/Cubs series’ in Atlanta? Or maybe we can all drop a line on the series preview that we’ll be going, and which seats. I’d love to talk to a Cubs fan and one that’s a BN’er as well.

  5. Die hard

    So ridiculous to think about offering anything over 2 yrs and 5 million per to a pitcher who has yet to show he can win 15 a year consistently over next 5 yrs

    1. Andrew

      good point

      1. THEOlogical

        I believe you have just made an eternal friend Andrew.

        1. Eternal Pessimist


  6. Aisle 424

    The thing people making the decision about season tickets need to keep in mind is that AS SOON as the product on the field becomes worth the cost of the prices this year, the prices will go up. And up. And up.

    Make no mistake, they are playing the loyalty card to keep the suffering season ticket holders around right now and to play on the hopes and dreams of the waiting list people, but the minute the team gets better and the demand returns to what it was in 2007 and 2008, then the ticket prices right now will seem like a damn bargain.

    So the question is, do you want to pay an exorbitant amount now to watch crappy baseball AND THEN pay prices that will probably double within a three/four year period of constant contention. (Season ticket prices damn near quadrupled from 1998 to 2010.) The right answer depends on the person, but that’s the question that needs to be asked of oneself.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “AS SOON as the product on the field becomes worth the cost of the prices this year, the prices will go up. And up. And up.”

      They tickets are already 3rd highest in baseball. The prices going up aren’t the problem.

    2. hansman

      How much did tickets in general go up from 1998-2010?

  7. Sacko

    I don’t think it matters, I don’t think Shark wants to continue being a Cub.

    1. Carew

      I think its the opposite

  8. cubfanincardinalland

    I think this is the perfect time for the Cubs to go out and sign Jacoby Ellsbury. The competition is much less than what was expected for him, most of the big money teams are set in the outfield. I have a feeling the Cubs are waiting in the wings for him.
    Makes a lot of sense, gives them a proven winner, leadoff hitter, excellent defense in center, and at his age he has some miles left on the wagon. Certainly will still be contributing in 5 years, similar to the Nationals signing of Werth. What would it take to sign him?
    Also a question, for people who are just buying season tickets now, where are the seats located at?

  9. Ballgame

    The 5yrs/55 is very intriguing. How much below last years payroll are the Cubs currently? If $25mil is possibly being added to payroll, is it feasible to extend Samardzija, sign Ellsbury and Tanaka? I know, long shots but adding those two into the mix would start to change all of our perspectives…

  10. Ballgame

    Also, do the Cubs have any interest in Halladay? He’s a beast if he’s healthy and if u pencil him in at #3 or #4 that’d be beyond intriguing…

    1. Patrick W.

      Everyone thinks he’s done.

  11. woody

    With pitching being the principle weakness in the system I can’t see them throwing out a 100 million dollar contract for Ellsbury. And that FA signing would cost a draft pick. Just as a closer is not so important for a team with out many save opportunities, a high priced lead off man is a waste when you don’t have middle of the order bats to drive him in. I don’t see it happening. The FO has not been shy about throwing the 2014 season under the bus. They are going to suck so might as well accept that. The only thing to look forward to this year is seeing Bryant and Baez at some point. In response to the poster that said Shark wasn’t even a 15 game winner I would say that if he had played for a better team he would have been. The bull pen was atrocious until they acquired Gregg. Non tendering Barney would be a good start if they want some offense. I think that combined with better numbers from Rizzo and Castro and not having a black hole in the bull pen should add double digit wins over last year. At best we are a .500 ball club next year.

    1. cubfanincardinalland

      The soon expected addition of players like Bryant and Baez, is exactly why they need to add an elite level player like Ellsbury. You have to add an asset like this when they are available, check out the free agent position players next year. You have Hanley Ramirez(who the Dodgers will soon extend) and a bunch of stiffs. Colby Rasmus? Good grief.
      7 years at 135 million is a no brainer in my opinion.

  12. Ryan

    I will become a part season ticket holder in December. Although my decision was a little easier to make since I’m going in on it with 2 other people so it’s only 27 games. I think even when guys like Baez and Bryant come up the attendance will go up quite a bit just to see them. Hopefully we’ll see wrigley like it was in 2008 at some point soon.

  13. Sect209Row15

    In 2004 there was no waiting list for season tickets. That was the last year the Cubs had buyers get in line and wait for a ticket allowing you to buy season tickets. I got in line at 5am and Was number 454 and finally choose my seats about 9pm. I had no idea about the aftermarket for tickets and took four seats to all 81 games. From 2004 thru 2011 I made about 1500 profit per seat per year.
    My advice would be to buy the tickets now. Unless you’re daddy warbucks buy seats in the 200 level or upperdeck. Easy to resell when the going is good and not crazy money upfront. On my stubhub account it still shows the person that commited to me 3500.00 a seat if the team had made the WS in 2008. Thats one game 7000.00 for two tickets. No one overpays for an event like a Cubs fan.

  14. cub4life


    I read somewhere that Sappelt was released, is that true from your findings? I seem to not see it on the main Cubs sites (or the Iowa one either).

  15. 5412


    We sold our IL home this year and let our tickets go. I owned them four years and lost $1000-$1200 each year. Not counting the games we went to, we sold our tickets at a net loss. With their five levels of pricing it is seldom you will profit on a game. Until there is real demand, expect to lose a bit of money each year.


  16. woody

    Continuing the Ellsbury debate I only have this to say. The FO is balking at paying Samardzija 75 million for 5 years so how can you justify giving a 7 year deal to a guy thats 31 years old at 135 millon? This flies against the whole Billy Beane rationale that Theo seems intent to emulate. I would love to see Ellsbury in the lineup, but the only way I see him in a Cubs uniform is if he is still hanging around in January and would accept a deal for less years. A 135 million is probably about the amount it will take to win the posting and sign Tanaka. Probably a little more than that. I see the FO signing another guy like Feldman coming off a bad year for the rotation and a right handed bat to platoon in the outfield. I have a hunch they are going to wait until the Tanaka sweepstakes is over to move Samardija. And I can’t blame Shark at all for being Leary of spending another year or two of his career pitching for a laughable loser. He has to be mindful of his own legacy as a player. Two more seasons with a sub .500 record is something I think he doesn’t want. That’s why he wants to be paid if that is the case. Just like a lot of Cubs fans I don’t think Samardija is sold on the rebuild. I admit there are some very promising prospects coming of age, but some of the moves made to the big league roster have been sketchy. I.e Jackson, Hairston and Baker. My fear is that trotting out a A ball lineup for a third year in a row is going to damage the psyche of guys like Rizzo and Castro and I admit that Ellsbury could be that guy. But this ownership is too cheap. Haven’t people realized that by now? Putting a competitive team on the field is being tied to revenues linked to the signage in the renovated stadium and TV deals. And those factors will not be in place until 2016. Thats why to me the DeJesus deal didn’t make any sense to me. There was a guy that set an example to the youngsters for proper plate approach and was a leader in the club house. But if Renteria can motivate these guys (Rizzo & Castro) and the bull pen doesn’t totally suck I think we could push the .500 mark in 2014. Let’s face it it’s a dogfight to overtake the Brewers to stay out of last place.

  17. caryatid62

    “I am beholden to no one and nothing here beyond my own sense of fairness, honesty and transparency.”

    While ultimately, this is true for everyone, I think the implication that it’s just “my opinion, man,” may no longer be an adequate explanation. You’ve developed a thriving site and have an influential voice among the fastest growing subset of Cubs fans in the country. You have more twitter followers than Gordon Wittenmeyer, Paul Sullivan, or Bruce Levine. You’ve done an amazing job building a following, and it’s likely that your comments, even those you believe to be “throwaway,” will likely be scrutinized more heavily with each passing day, especially if the motivations for those opinions can be questioned. I know that the last paragraph of your post yesterday made me, as a reader, feel (for lack of a better term) icky, as if something other than your opinion was driving the writing. That’s likely my own perspective based upon the media I’ve encountered, but as you gain followers, it’s likely that a larger subset of them will be more skeptical about your motivations, regardless of the veracity of their claims.

    I don’t write this to be judgmental, because I honestly don’t know where someone like you falls in the spectrum of sports journalism (or any journalism, for that matter). But it’s interesting to consider that, in the post-modern digital media world in which we now find ourselves, the lines between “journalist,” “blogger,” “fan,” and “PR writer” have become incredibly blurred, and those of us who read non-traditional forms of journalism are not surprisingly ambivalent (and skeptical bordering on paranoia) about the material we consume. It’s a really fascinating time to be involved in media (even as a consumer), but I’m definitely concerned about the fact that we will inevitably have some difficult times in adjusting to the less clear delineation of all of our roles in the media process.

    (Wow, this comment went someplace I didn’t expect. Oh well.)

  18. Bret Epic

    Orioles picked up a guy that I really wanted the Cubs to try and go after. Had strong numbers in AAA, but hasn’t had much MLB experience. Decent pop and OBP skills for a catcher, at least decent enough to play back up. http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=monell002joh

  19. Lou Brock

    I think Cubs will go after LHP in Rule V draft next week. Two prime candidates are 25 year old from the Mariner system Brian Moran who has success at AAA and has high K rate. I also like the Tigers Blaine Hardy, more of a LOOGY but had terrific ERA and WHIP numbers at AA and AAA.
    RHP possible choices are Jordan Swagerty from Cardinals coming off a TJ surgery in 2012 or Zach Thornton from Pirates with great K rates and strictly a relief pitcher.
    If you think catching is still a weakness despite Kotarras being acquired from the Royals this week then look at Brett Nicholas from the Rangers who hits for power from the left side and can also play first base. Also there is Caleb Joseph from the Orioles system who dominated at AA in the power dept and had a nice OBP.

  20. jsorensen

    I want the Cubs to take Swagerty, if only to hopefully stick it to the Cards one day that he used to be theirs. Honestly though, he was Top 6 or 7 in their system a couple of years ago.

  21. jsorensen

    Baseball America had Swagerty at #9 after 2011 & #10 after 2012 the year in which he had TJ surgery. He was a 2nd round pick, went to Arizona State. I think the Cards also picked his teammate from ASU that same year in the first round, forgot his name. 6’2 175 righty. From Texas originally. Even if he just sat there all year, getting healthy, stealing a guy who had been highly regarded like this would be a nice Rule 5 pick up. I bet the Cards figure he is still such a mystery after the minimal amount he pitched in 2013 that most teams will stay away.

  22. YourResidentJag

    Bruce Levine just on 670Score:

    Few points he made: each MLB team will get not $52 mil in additional revenue but $78mil to spend however they wish. (52 from MLB and 25 from TV). Shark was offered a 5 yr $55 mil contract from Cubs, but Cubs will shop him still. Bruce feels Cubs will be active over winter meetings in signing a FA.

    1. YourResidentJag

      Cliff Lippert ‏@CliffyIndiana 11h
      Bruce Levine Stated the all baseball teams get 52 mil from Natl TV deal + 25 mil from BAM Baseball advance media. Licensing. 77 mil total.

      1. Landon

        Sounds like a pretty good way to win a posting bid on Tanaka.

    2. Jason Powers

      I guess discounting losses in revenue and rev sharing can they be positive enough to spend on That Dream FA? Saving for tanaka?

      1. YourResidentJag

        Who knows? I didn’t know about the $77 mil approx coming the Cubs way or any teams, for that matter. That being said I don’t pretend to know how the Cubs will use the $$$.

  23. YourResidentJag

    Cliff Lippert ‏@CliffyIndiana 11h
    Bruce Levine thinks the Cubs could be players for either Choo or Ellsbury. As said on his Saturday morning radio show.

  24. Lou Brock

    Possibility according to Arizona blog site that KC Royals and D-Backs might match up on a trade scenario for 2B , RF, and a starting pitcher. Royals might like Owings at 2B, Pollack in RF, and Delgado or Cahill as SP. In return D-Backs receive prospect RHP Zimmer, LHP Collins and OF prospect Starling.
    Cubs would then send Samardzija, Schierholtz, and Lake to D-Backs for Skaggs, Zimmer, Eaton, and Trahan.

    1. YourResidentJag

      That’s what I’m thinking. KC sends us Ventura? But what do we send them as part of that deal? That’s where things get a bit murky.

  25. YourResidentJag
  26. Zach

    I’m beginning to think the best course of action is to trade samardzija for a package of prospects and sign ellsbury. Yes we lose a draft pick. But if we gain multiple prospects in a trade that’s like adding multiple high end picks anyways. The money intended for shark could be used on jacoby. We use Raley or rusin in the short term (since 2014 is a wash anyways), while strengthening our farm. I was against signing a high priced of but I’ve been coming around on the idea.

    This article provides a few supporting ideas as well… http://m.espn.go.com/general/blogs/blogpost?blogname=sweetspot&id=42592&src=desktop .

    The time is now to start improving and I think you play the market. In my eyes samardzija is a perfect sell high guy and Jacoby is a good “buy-low” candidate given how the next few crops of free agents are looking. I love shark but for the Cub’s best interests I hope his days in Chicago are numbered.

    1. Isaac

      Boy, this just makes no sense. Trade our best current arm and sign a huge “win now” 30+ free agent? How are those synchronous moves?

      1. Cyranojoe

        Ellsbury is not a “win now” FA. And the poster you’re replying to calls Ellsbury a “buy low” candidate, which implicitly suggests the contract (as he imagines it) would not be huge.

  27. Blackhawks1963

    Phil Hughes signs with Minnesota. Did not want anyway.

  28. YourResidentJag

    Well, we’re not getting Phil Hughes. Twins just signed him.

  29. Serious Cubs Fan

    Wow Phil Hughes got 3yrs from the Twins? Good signing by them. He’s only 27 and is still in his prime with good, peripherals.

    1. Serious Cubs Fan

      Kinda bummed we could grab him, but I bet Theo/Jed weren’t biting on 3yrs. I thought he’d be a great buy low and sell high candidate for the cubs

    2. Professor Snarks

      Brett has a sad.

  30. Serious Cubs Fan

    After this Hughes signing it makes me wonder who else is a good buy-low candidate on the market for the rotation and position players?

    1. Dustin S

      I was thinking the same thing. Surprisingly there are still a lot of players available in the mid to lower tiers of buy-low guys that the FO likes. I’m thinking maybe some John Lannan or Nate McLouth types. McLouth isn’t really much of a buy-low, but probably a more realistic OF option than top guys like Ellsbury. Kazmir would be nice but I think he’ll get better offers from teams not knee-deep in a rebuild process. Pat Neshek would be an interesting RP pickup. Plenty of options out there.

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