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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.
  • CubFan Paul

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

    • CubFan Paul

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

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        What did he say?

        • CubFan Paul

          He’s very interested in where the money will go, as in, will Theo get it for Tanaka, or to add a little to the payroll.

          He said he doesn’t have to ask where it’ll be spent because we’ll see it

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Hmm. That’s surprising.

            • CubFan Paul

              Surprising that he mentioned it when all the other beatwriters won’t touch the subject with a ten foot pole (or twitter reply)?

              I’m hoping Bruce follows up on it. The Cubs have Mooney writing articles about 2016 and only having enough resources for one big free agent (if that) so he can’t speak his mind.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Surprised about that, I guess, but mostly I’m surprised that Levine believes it’s true that the Cubs will spend that extra $25 million this year on big league payroll. That would imply a significant jump in payroll from last year, while I’m tentatively expecting a decline.

                • CubFan Paul

                  Bruce guessed the payroll would be about $100M, so he doesn’t believe it will be spent that way. He wants it visibly spent because Ricketts said Theo&Co would get more in their budget if the revenues increased (& they have by all calculations)

                  • Eternal Pessimist

                    It has to be difficult really projecting the payroll…the big fish might by 15-20 Million (or more) per year. If you miss the big one, and the rest of the “guppies” are all fished out, I guess you re-deploy the funds some other way…Hopefully they put the Blackhawk’s Ice girls to rollerblade through the field with some lawnmowers (drool…)

              • bt

                Yes, we all know how hesitant Gordon Wittenmeyer is about bringing up payroll issues and the Cubs, shill that he is.

                • CubFan Paul

                  Wittenmeyer has NOT brought up this issue.

                  • bt

                    Then he doesnt find it newsworthy. The idea that the guy who brings up high ticket prices vs poor performance in virtually every column he writes wouldn’t touch this “with a ten foot pole” is beyond counterintuitive.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      “Then he doesnt find it newsworthy”

                      False. He’s misinformed and doesn’t know the details of the national TV deal (that’s what I took from a brief twitter convo).

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Is it really that complicated to grasp? Teams are getting a significant, uniformly-spread bump in revenue, starting next year. What’s there to miss out on?

                    • Kyle

                      Don’t forget what the Pirates’ GM Huntington said a few weeks ago: It may not be that simple.

                      He said that $25m may be the average per team per year, but he still didn’t know how much that teams would actually be getting for 2014 and that some of it could be siphoned off by MLB for league-wide projects.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      The Pirates GM knows exactly what they’re receiving. Only about 20% of the previous $26M was taken by MLB (pensions, MLBAM, league office).

                      If the 20% stays the same starting in 2014, teams will receive $40M out of their $52M share.

                      That’s $20M more a year, at least $40M total, up from $20M a year.

                      http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/los-angeles-angels-starting-pitchers-trade-howie-kendrick-erick-aybar-mark-trumbo-111213

                      scroll down to the “Overstating the windfall” paragraphs

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s the Matt Harrison contract, which is a near perfect comparison.

    • Kyle

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

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I think the most Samardzija could expect to get is five years and $70 million, even if the market has moved forward in the last two years (recent signings suggest that may not have happened as dramatically as we thought it would). 5/$60M is a fairly appropriate compromise, but I don’t know if he’ll do it.

        • Kyle

          What you have to keep in mind is that buying out Samardzija’s first three free agent years is great for the team but bad for him. Those are the years he wants to be able to take to the market in two years to leverage into a five- or six-year deal down the road at a much higher rate.

          If I’m a baseball player and you want to extend me just a few years beyond my service control years, you better be prepared to way overpay the market, because otherwise I’m hitting free agency after six years is the jackpot.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Right, but he’s two years away from free agency. Samardzija is uniquely confident, but surely he’s smart enough to recognize the possibility of injury or ineffectiveness. You don’t pay overmarket two years in advance. No team anywhere would ever do that for any player.

            • Kyle

              Samardzija’s confidence is justified, I think, by the fact that he’s already made quite a bit of money in his career.

              Sure, *some* players can be enticed by the security of knowing they’ll make $50m rather than $3m in their career and pass up the chance to shoot for $100m+, but I don’t think it’s unique to Samardzija to pass up on that.

              Samardzija has already banked something like $14m. He’s under no such pressure.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                We already know all of the arguments. There’s no right or wrong here.

                Ed. – What I mean is, the only discussion that we can actually have at this point is how much Samardzija should actually reasonably expect on an extension. If it’s not enough, it’s not enough, and that’s that.

                • Kyle

                  Boooooo to using the edit feature not available to the rest of us. Boooooo!

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    At least I’m transparent about it. :)

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

            • 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).

              • 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.

              • CubFan Paul

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

                Who doesn’t?

  • 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.

  • DarthHater

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

  • 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.

    • http://vdcinc.biz 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…

      • 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.

  • 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

    • Andrew

      good point

      • THEOlogical

        I believe you have just made an eternal friend Andrew.

        • Eternal Pessimist

          Heh…

  • http://www.obstructedview.net/ 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.

    • 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.

    • hansman

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

  • http://BN Sacko

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

    • Carew

      I think its the opposite

  • 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?

  • 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…

  • 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…

    • Patrick W.

      Everyone thinks he’s done.

  • http://bleachernation.com 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • cub4life

    Brett,

    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).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes. He was. He was derostered in September, and a departure was inevitable at that point.

      • cub4life

        I thought so. And I have no problem with the move, just wish we could have gotten something for him, but I don’t know if anyone would have given anything. Thanks for the info.

        • cub4life

          How about McDonald and Gillespie?

          • Bret Epic

            McDonald elected free agency, Gillespie was DFA’d for Daniel Bard back in September, but is still apparently on the Iowa Cubs.

  • 5412

    Hi,

    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.

    Regards,
    5412

  • http://bleachernation.com 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.

  • 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.)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thing is, none of those concerns are limited to this place or the fan-blogging medium in general. Heck, although legitimate, they’re not even new concerns. For as long as Dude A has written stuff about Thing B, there have always been concerns about propriety, reliability, motivations, incentives, etc. The issue here is whether I intend – or pretend – to be held to the kind of impartiality you’re describing. I’m not. I never have been. I’m a Cubs fan, and that will *always* taint my perspective. If someone wants to accuse me of being biased in favor of the Cubs – guilty as charged. If someone wants to assert that I’ve been paid for those opinions, on the other hand, that’s a different animal (I’ve never accepted a dollar from the Cubs, and I really don’t think I would take advertising from them).

      Having a widely-heard voice comes with responsibilities and obligations to which I have become very sensitive. You’re preaching to the choir there. But those responsibilities do not extend to me not being to able to say what I believe when it comes to matters that are, by their very nature, opinion. That is particularly true where I am fair, honest, and transparent. I can’t put it much better than I did in my comment to your criticism yesterday (which you may not have seen):

      “Here’s the thing: I really love the Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake from Chick-fil-A. It’s the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. And I’ll gladly tell the world – right here on this very blog – that they should go out and buy one right now, because it’s that awesome.

      Sounds a lot like an advertisement, right? It actually just happens to be what I think.

      Buy Cubs season tickets or don’t. In terms of an individual’s actual decision, I don’t really give a hoot. But my opinion is that The Plan is going to work. My opinion is that the Cubs will start winning consistently within a couple years. My opinion is that, when the Cubs start winning consistently, tickets are going to be very hard to come by.

      You can call that an advertisement if you’d like. But I’d probably question your motives just as you question mine. I’m just a dude who writes about the Cubs, and I’m beholden to no one. I offer my opinions. That was one of ‘em.

      And the Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake from Chick-fil-A is so damn good that you should go buy one right now.”

      • caryatid62

        I actually missed your comment yesterday, so thanks for reposting. Your comparison to the milkshake (which I’m sure is delicious) isn’t quite adequate, mostly because this isn’t a Chik-Fil-A fan website. People don’t look to you for information on the milkshake news of the day, so your opinion on the issue isn’t necessarily germane to your motivations regarding the success or failure of Chik-fil-A. That’s beside the point, though.

        Most important, though, I thought I’d address this statement:

        “For as long as Dude A has written stuff about Thing B, there have always been concerns about propriety, reliability, motivations, incentives, etc.”

        I think you’re missing an important distinction in this statement. I think In sports, there’s the “team,” of which we are all fans, and then there’s the “product,” of which most of us are consumers. Advocating for “the plan” is mostly a statement about the team, coming from an unabashed fan. Advocating for buying tickets is a statement about the product, coming from…well, who knows? A blogger who just has an opinion? Or a person who has been consciously or unconsciously been given an incentive to encourage others to buy that product? Are you covering the team or the product? That’s where it becomes so much more complicated, and where it seems ambiguity and mistrust can develop between reader and writer.

        In the blogging world, this is an even bigger issue, because bloggers are usually fans first. This makes them vulnerable to teams, who can (even subconsciously) curry favorable coverage through granting the blogger things that fans would love most: access. I remember when Bill Simmons was getting scrutiny from some circles that essentially amounted to: “the best way to get Simmons’ to say what a great player you are is to just give him a half an hour interview.” While the motivations of anyone can always be questioned, I think it becomes exponentially more significant in the blogging world, when the writer is, usually by definition, not a passive observer, but in fact an open advocate for the team s/he is covering.

        (This also makes me wonder about bloggers who deal in “sourced” material about trades, etc. I feel like any smart team would reach out to a successful blogger to leak ‘stories’ in an effort to use as leverage in negotiations, as the blogger is likely to be so grateful for the access that s/he won’t bother confirming the rumor. But that’s an entirely different post.)

        As evidenced by the ESPN article on Qatar that recently came under scrutiny, it’s very easy for corporations, governments, et. al., to destroy the balance between “writer” and “PR,” and I think with the rise of the internet as a medium, it’s only getting more difficult for readers to trust the coverage they’re getting.

        Like I wrote in my initial comment, I don’t really know where I land on this–part of it is just that it’s interesting to me and your post has given me food for thought. I don’t want it to come off as a holistic criticism (although I guess, to a certain extent, I am still critical of your last paragraph from yesterday), because I think sports bloggers like you, John Arguello, Tom Loxas, Julie, etc. are in a bit of a no-win-situation here. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about for awhile and thought I’d share.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          (I just want to say up front that this is a completely meritorious discussion, and I appreciate your thoughts. Please don’t take my disagreement as dismissiveness.)

          I would agree that there’s a distinction between the “team” and the “product,” in relation to how a writer like me covers things. From my perspective, though, it’s a distinction without a difference. It would be pretty odd, indeed, for me to figure out a way to cover the “team” that in no way endorses the “product” (“I love the Cubs and you should, too … but I’m not going to tell you what channel the game is on tonight, because you watching the game supports the ratings that supports their big TV contract. I’m also not going to link to Cubs.com. And I’m definitely not going to tell you how to buy tickets to Spring Training! But, go Cubs!”).

          Were media outlets not vulnerable to team PR, there would be no such thing as a PR department with the Cubs. And no press releases. The issue is not being vulnerable to the team’s efforts to sway public opinion and sell their product by way of your coverage. The issue is being vulnerable in ways that are unfair, dishonest, or opaque to your readers.

          As to the specific issue here, I want to make sure everyone has the proper context: in a post about whether or not to renew/buy season tickets, I expressed the opinion that folks passing on the opportunity now might be in trouble if they decide they want to buy season tickets in a couple years. The only people to whom the comment was applicable was people already on the season ticket wait list, who, presumably have some kind of predisposition to wanting to buy Cubs tickets. I did not say “hey, you people, go buy Cubs tickets!” I expressed the (supportable) opinion that, if the Cubs get good soon for a long period of time (and I believe they will), passing up on tickets now may prove to have been a mistake for people hoping to have the tickets for a long time going forward.

          If that makes you feel icky, I can’t help but feel that’s because you entered into the proposition with some of the very concerns you’re now expressing. You saw things that weren’t there.

          • ClevelandCubsFan

            I’m a Cubs fan from my childhood and an Indians fan from my adulthood. Because they’re in different leagues and because neither will ever make the world series at the same time I can root for both.

            This is an easy one. The difference between the Cubs and the Indians is that the Indians try and fail. The Cubs have become deranged. Now they sell tickets like used car salesmen. “Buy this overpriced warranty because in 7 years you might hit a pothole.” If they refuse to put a real team on the field, you should refuse to pay real money. Maybe if they offer a huge discount to match the cheap effort of the front office.

            • J.F.Edwards

              What are you doing here? I think you should stick to the Indians. Keep drinking your own Kool-aid. It’s your preference, anyway, since you clearly haven’t been watching the Cubs the past decade.

              I’m thankful for a FO that finally ISN’T trying to sell me an overpriced old-model on the Scott Boras market.

              For 30 years, I’ve been watching a team my grandfather died rooting for. I’d rather see if we can build a team my grandkids can be proud of rather than hand them the overpriced model I inherited.

              • ClevelandCubsFan2

                Did not realize there was another handle with this name! All I have to say is that you sir are a Jim Jones follower. It looks like a lot of people here are just buying what they’re sold. We do that a lot here in Cleveland to, but like I said before the difference is that the team actually tries to win. I can’t think of another example of an organization that has gone so wrong in such a short time.

            • ClevelandCubsFan

              Woah. There can be only one.

              I am the ClevelandCubsFan.

            • ClevelandCubsFan

              I’ll tell you what. We both keep ClevelandCubsFan. But at the end of my name I’ll add in parentheses the phrase “original recipe.”

              You, in turn, will add the parenthetical name “New Coke.”

              • ClevelandCubsFan2

                LOL

                • ClevelandCubsFan

                  Well, by my reasoning, shouldn’t the Cubs come to Cleveland in 2015? We should get a beer and see the game.

          • caryatid62

            First of all, don’t worry about making me feel as if you’re dismissive. Contrary to what the internet typically can be, productive conversation can come from disagreement. Thanks for noting that, though–it’s nice to see an author honestly welcome disagreement.

            “I would agree that there’s a distinction between the “team” and the “product,” in relation to how a writer like me covers things. From my perspective, though, it’s a distinction without a difference.”

            Here’s where I would identify a difference: I want the Cubs team to be as successful on the field as possible, which naturally means that their success will cause others to be unsuccessful. I don’t particularly care (at least in a relative sense) whether or not their competitors, such as a team like the Pirates, are ultimately successful. In some cases, such as the Cardinals, I actively root for their competitors to be unsuccessful, and enjoy when they fail (spiteful jerk that I am).

            However, when it comes to “The Cubs” as a product, I’m less willing to, without question, root holistically for them to be successful (assuming that a successful business is one that is especially profitable) at the expense of other competing businesses or entities. I’m less inclined to “root” for them as a business specifically because I want the baseball team to win games. This has tended to manifest itself most often recently in the fight with the city and rooftops, where I’m not inclined to accept the Cubs’ perspective on the issues ONLY because it’s the Cubs’ perspective. If their expansion into the neighborhood is pragmatically good for the neighborhood and city, I’m all for it. But I have to be convinced of their righteousness, whereas on the baseball field, I don’t need to be convinced to root for the team. They’re just who I root for, no questions asked.

            And this is there I find the distinction important for a writer. It’s very easy to transfer the desire to unquestionably root for the baseball team on to their dealings as a business, thus even subconsciously limiting one’s critique of their business dealings or accepting their version of that business with an even slightly diminished critical eye. Conflating the Cubs as a baseball team that competes with 29 other teams for a championship, with The Cubs as a business entity whose goal is to be as profitable as possible can be incredibly easy to do, but also can make one less discerning as a consumer. As more and more popular writers subconsciously convey this message, the audience is more likely to support decisions, even those made in direct opposition to their own financial/personal well-being, because they, as fans, believe in the team within Major League Baseball, instead of two distinct entities.

            An important note: This is not to say that you’ve done any of this, and you certain have never demonstrated an intent to do it. But even if you had done this, you may not (likely would not) have even realized it. And that’s where the real danger lies.

            “If that makes you feel icky, I can’t help but feel that’s because you entered into the proposition with some of the very concerns you’re now expressing. You saw things that weren’t there.”

            This is entirely possible, and I freely admit that I bring my own biases to this conversation. However, I’d argue that while we might disagree to the degree to which your statement was an advertisement for the Cubs product, it’s existence is indisputable. I may have had a heightened reaction to it due to my own pre-existing thoughts about the business, but the statement was clearly a (non-compensated) advertisement for purchasing tickets.

        • anonymous-ly

          Eh, what is the big deal anyways? A large majority of the readers on here come here to read Brett’s copy and paste summaries along with comments that are pro-Cubs team and pro-Cubs product both. Brett has never hid his motivations, his primary priority is to his fan base that supports this blog and in turn his family. He is not a sports editor, that should be held to a high standard of some ambiguous baseball morality.

          Brett is pro-Cubs all the way 24/7. That is why he has an astoundingly large base of followers. People come here for a shred of positivity, when there is hardly any to be found. If he bashed ownership, FO or “the plan” the room would be empty and in turn his coffers. He graciously and smartly allows for contrarian views in almost all cases. Should there ever be a concern or question of if or why Brett thinks it might be a good time to buy Cubs tickets? Makes sense to me anyways, if you can afford it.

          Personally, I’m jealous that Brett can make a living from being a Cubs fan. Probably the next best thing to actually making a living playing for the Cubs.

          • anonymous-ly

            And if that means occasionally throwing the FO or Cubs a bone with good press, what can it hurt? That should probably be expected and it’s good business sense anyways.

            • J.F.Edwards

              Funny story: for industrious readers of this site, you are not posting very “anonymous-ly.”

              I’m going to defend Brett’s good work here because he deserves it.

              I check here first for all Cubs news and I appreciate his insight, wit, and appreciation for Cubs fans–precisely because he is a Cubs fan who manages to give fans a good lens for viewing the team.

              And the lens is transparent.

              He wants them to win now but understands the long-term plan.

              For examples, Brett was/has been/and I trust will be, totally straightforward through the Rooftop v. Cubs situation.

              Name a journalist as transparent. Because frankly, I can’t think of many folks who can wield a credibility card worth more than Brett’s. And by all accounts, he’s good, honest people. Credibility is the heart of news.

              So here’s the bottom line: he gets to do it because he’s good at it.

              I’m sorry that’s frustrating for haters.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            This:

            “Brett’s copy and paste summaries”

            Is incompatible with this:

            “I’m jealous that Brett can make a living from being a Cubs fan”

            Turns out, I actually don’t copy and paste anything, and do quite a bit more than your back-handed, fake compliment suggests. Were that all I did, there would be a lot of sites as successful as this one. Since it’s that easy, you know? And since all I offer is copying and pasting. Seems like that would be pretty easy for others to pull off. Surprise: I’m actually a good writer, a thoughtful analyst, and a solid creator of original content.

            Please do not use defending me as a pretext to bash me.

            • ClevelandCubsFan

              I love this blog, by the way! It’s by far the most “fan-like” blog to offer real analysis. I don’t mind that it’s optimistic, someone has to be. If it sometimes comes across as a performance by this blog’s writer, it is, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Do we make fun of the Philly Phanatic for trying to keep the fans in the game?

            • Turn Two

              Brett, in my opinion, no need to even respond to that stuff. I can tell you that everyone i know that reads this site comments on the fact that its a blog that’s run by someone who writes well and doesn’t just say things to incite responses. It is your ability to write and research that draws people in.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Thanks, TT. You are right. I didn’t follow my own advice. Adding a more me-appropriate response now.

            • anonymouser-ly

              “Brett’s copy and paste summaries”

              Brett, I want to apologize if you took offense to my description. MLBTraderumors is a great site that mostly “copy’s and pastes” (meant in this context) news stories with links and comments. I can see how you would be upset if you thought that was a back-handed attempt at criticism about plagiarism. Obviously, you are not and I enjoy most of your writing to a certain extent. Definitely not a hater, you can count me as an admirer your business acumen,

              I was merely pointing out that you are pro-Cubs team. pro-Cubs product, pro-Cubs ownership all the time 24/7 and nobody should be surprised when you throw in a comment about buying Cubs season tickets. That is part of the package. If you watch FOX news channel, you should expect pro-Republican news and should not be surprised when they suggest you should vote for a Republican candidate.

              However, the Cubs play a minimal part of my life (except for the occasional enjoyment or disappointments) and I don’t depend on their goodwill and the goodwill of the Cubs fan to make a living. Therefore, I can openly disagree with you and I can freely express my disappointments with ownership without fear of negative consequences.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I didn’t follow my own advice. What I meant to say was …

            haters

            • CC

              Brett – I just made a chick-fil-A run for that shake, quite tasty. Keep up the good work, I appreciate what you do and the site. All is good!

            • J.F.Edwards

              True story.

          • cub2014

            oh anonymous-ly, who really cares what you think.

            a third of the people on this site think the front office
            is a joke and they dont know what they are doing

            another third are willing to give this front office a
            chance (and they like everything they are doing
            outside of the MLB team)

            now there is another third emerging, who likes what
            the front office is doing but doesnt see why we cant
            be competitive in the bigs why we rebuild.

            Brett has tried to be fair and has challenged people
            who are being negative just to do so (the 1st group
            i mentioned). He has challenged people who like to
            troll. He’s had to challenge people who like to be bullies.
            He has been critical of this FO, not as often as
            some on this site would like. He has reported stories
            and written his own. Which is typical of all media today

            This site is a mostly pro Cubs site, not necessarily
            a pro Theo or Ricketts. So if you dont like this site
            you shouldnt waste yours or our time by frequenting
            this site.

          • Bret Epic

            I understand what anonymous-ly2014 is saying when pertaining to Brett, but I don’t agree with it. I don’t think his work is copy and paste and I think he’s a very good writer. I will say that everything he writes seems to be very “pro Cubs,” but it’s a Cubs website. The comments section is for the fans to gripe and bitch about how they hate transactions or how much they hate the front office. I think Brett just delivers news and articles in a way that he tries to see it through the eyes of the front office, hence his writing comes off as more optimistic than from our own point of view. The only thing that I’ve ever been even subtlety bothered by is a lack of criticism or pessimism towards poor decisions made by the Cubs/front office, but he most likely does this because he wants to keep the blog impersonal and wants to prevent inciting anger towards himself.

            I think it’s disgraceful that this site has become a place for trolls to run rampant. He’s a good writer and while not all of the post season news is going to be interesting, his job is to supply it to us. If those who continue to read this blog think that he’s just a copy and paste writer, try making your own Cubs blog or piss off.

            • anonymouser-ly

              Epic and Cubs2014, never criticized Brett and “copy and paste” was probably not well thought out before I posted. “Copy and paste” was just a short way of saying that Brett compiles news from multiple sources and writes it in one summary or bulletins. Can see how a writer can take it the wrong way and be offended by it and already apologized.

              However, I think that Brett is pro-Cubs org, pro-ownership, pro-FO, pro-plan, pro-buy Cubs season tickets, pro higher cable prices to subsidize more Ricketts profits and trickle down spending…(cough, cough) etc..all the time 24/7 and his blogs are mostly written in that light. If he wants to get upset at me for thinking that…then *shrugs*

              • Bret Epic

                All you really had to read from my statement was “I think Brett just delivers news and articles in a way that he tries to see it through the eyes of the front office, hence his writing comes off as more optimistic than from our own point of view. The only thing that I’ve ever been even subtlety bothered by is a lack of criticism or pessimism towards poor decisions made by the Cubs/front office, but he most likely does this because he wants to keep the blog impersonal and wants to prevent inciting anger towards himself.”

                If you think about that statement in itself, it’s pretty easy to understand why Brett’s content is the style that it is. I am a regular reader of his content because it’s good content. I read this blog, as well as 3-4 others on a daily basis, each different stylistically. I can say that I commend Brett on his ability to leave his personal feelings out of his words and to be able to handle how disrespectful the fan base has become on this site, and your comments were far from the worst I’ve seen.

      • jt

        love an honest redering of Cubs opinion with a background of blue. That is pretty much what you get here.
        thanks.

  • 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

  • http://Bleachernation 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • Landon

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

    • 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?

      • 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 $$$.

  • 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.

  • http://Bleachernation 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.

    • 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.

  • YourResidentJag
  • 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.

    • 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?

      • 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.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Phil Hughes signs with Minnesota. Did not want anyway.

  • YourResidentJag

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

  • 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.

    • 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

    • Professor Snarks

      Brett has a sad.

  • 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?

    • 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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