Portrait of a Broken Organization: The Seattle Mariners

mariners logoThe sheen of the 10-year, $240 million Albert Pujols Robinson Cano contract is still fresh, and the Seattle Times just took a dulling dump on the Mariners’ organization, right at the very top. Not since the Boston Globe’s beer and fried chicken piece has a baseball organization been so thoroughly skewered by the local media in an extensive, investigative-style piece.

Geoff Baker’s article is making the rounds for good reason. It is the shocking portrait of an organization that deals with too much meddling at the top, an inadequate GM in the middle, and well-meaning pieces at the bottom. To call it a must read is an under-selling of the highest order. If you’re interested in baseball outside of Chicago in the least, read it.

And even if the Chicago Cubs are the only bit of baseball that interests you, I still think you’re going to find interesting slices in Baker’s article, including a segment on what happens when, at an organizational level, there isn’t a clear, consistent long-term plan – together with the cojones to stick with it:

[Former Mariners manager Eric] Wedge said when he became manager in November 2010, [Mariners President Chuck] Armstrong confided the Mariners were in their worst shape ever and upper management would patiently support a true rebuild.

Things changed after a slow start to 2011. Four people who worked closely with Wedge say he was inundated with directives from above: that [Mariners CEO Howard] Lincoln and Armstrong took notes nightly during games and passed them to [GM Jack] Zduriencik, who relayed them to Wedge in his office and expected him to work on it with players ….

Wedge described how, starting in 2011, Armstrong would visit his office and gravely say things like: “Howard sent me down here and … we’ve got to win.”

Wedge would shrug in agreement, telling him he wanted to win every night. “But he’s like, ‘No, we’ve really got to win. We’ve got to go 5-2 on this trip. We’ve got to win tonight.’ ”

I can’t speak to the veracity of the claims in Baker’s piece, but it reads like it’s very well-sourced and even-handed. And it’s grim, man. Grim. Needing a specific five wins on a given road trip not even a year into a “true rebuild”? Yikes. That’s not the way to do things.

From the piece, I flash on a large market team with falling attendance and falling payroll. We know the team well. And then I flash on what would happen if The Plan – the effort to build up the young core of the organization while flushing out poor financial decisions and poor scouting/development protocols – were short-circuited after a couple years of losing. Once again: folks wonder how I can be so unabashedly on board with the big league level dreck that accompanies the long-term plan? It’s because I’ve seen this kind of Mariners story before. The Cubs are not on that path anymore, and I’m thrilled with what I anticipate happening … eventually.

It takes a long time to build a sustainable winner, especially after the position the Cubs were put in as an organization in the late-2000s. It takes only a very short time to blow it all to hell.

Maybe the Mariners’ new plan, whatever it is, will get them to where they need to be. But it’s going to be mighty expensive, and difficult to sustain, absent a New York Yankee-level commitment to payroll for more than a decade. Well, at least one Robinson Cano-led decade, right?

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

180 responses to “Portrait of a Broken Organization: The Seattle Mariners”

  1. jh03

    I just feel bad for King Felix :(

    A guy like that deserves more from his career.

  2. Roscoe Village Fan

    Man, I know he’s making $240 mil but could be kind of an empty-stomach-nauseating feeling for Cano to read an article like that after signing and not be worried about wasting away in the pacific northwest. At least Felix has company…what a crazy article!

    1. JBarnes

      He didn’t go to Seattle to win, it’s pretty obvious he went for the money. I give it no more than two seasons before that team is in a free fall.

  3. Fishin Phil

    “Once again: folks wonder how I can be so unabashedly on board with the big league level dreck that accompanies the long-term plan? It’s because I’ve seen this kind of Mariners story before. The Cubs are not on that path anymore, and I’m thrilled with what I anticipate happening … eventually.”

    This x 1000. Thank you for articulating my feelings so well.

    1. pjboy9

      me totally agrees, too.

      1. 70'scub

        Agree, Like the Cubs to dominate the Cardinals from top to bottom. Ten year run would be nice….

  4. jh03

    Holy crap. The stuff about Jack Z and stats… wow.

    Making fun of Blengino and his computer system just because he didn’t understand it… That’s jaw dropping.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      As a scientist, I can only say that it’s far from jaw-dropping. Ridiculing the results of critical thinking has been a common tactic of the “old school” (whatever that old school might be) since, well, Galileo at least!

      1. YourResidentJag

        Yes, but he went as far as to criticize his childhood friend’s presentation on statistics by stating he had problems with the font size of the lettering and the margins. Really? That’s low.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          Low? Yes. Petty? Yes. Unfortunately, it also can be effective. Dilbert makes light of this all the time,

          Brett ran a link to an article on Survivorship Bias and why “winners” often are not as smart as they think that they are. Much of this stems from the classic belief that if I succeeded in one thing, then I must have “known” what I was doing: and that my way is *THE* way. It reads as if a lot of that is happening here.

          1. YourResidentJag


      2. jh03

        This is fair.

        It amazes more that this would happen with somebody in his position though, no? I would assume, that in 2013, the General Manager of a MLB team would be above this type of crap. I clearly would assume wrong…

  5. Kyle

    Thank goodness there will always be organizations worse to draw attention away from how badly the Cubs are doing.

    1. dw8

      If this is the only conclusion you are drawing after reading the Baker piece you can find a new avatar, or just change the letters to T-R-O-L-L.

      1. Kyle

        Why would you assume it’s the only conclusion I drew?

    2. JulioZuleta

      Productive post. Not trolling or anything at all.

      1. Kyle

        This is a classic example of how divergent opinions are accused of trolling.

        In my opinion, the fact that the Mariners may be being run poorly has little to do with justifying the way the Cubs are being run. That is not trolling.

        1. aaronb

          That team sucks…So its cool that we suck?

          1. cub2014

            aaronb, you just cant resist can you.

            1. dw8

              “Thank goodness there will always be organizations worse to draw attention away from how badly the Cubs are doing.”

              Yep, this isn’t explicitly phrased to elicit a response.

              If your opinion had any intellectual honesty attacking the Cubs current plan, compared to the seeming mixed message/lack of coherent plan that was put forward in Baker’s piece, I would have responded differently.

    3. Jason P

      You take your contrarianism to such obnoxious and illogical degrees that it becomes nothing more than trolling.

      1. Kyle

        Trolling is posting for the purpose of annoying people and not adding to the discussion.

        My post was about Cubs baseball. Your post was designed to upset or annoy me and had no baseball content.

        Which one of us trolled?

        1. Jason P

          Trolling does not necessarily require posting off topic. Your glib style of posting is designed to anger/upset, which, by definition, makes you a troll.

          1. Kyle

            Again with the personal attack.

            1. Brains

              all this “troll this, troll that”, it’s used as a weapon term like the tea party uses the concept of “freedom”. well, if by their “freedom” they mean freedom to deny equality and access to minority experiences, it’s an empty term. calling anything we disagree with or that’s not marching to the beat of the drum “trolling” means that the term isn’t worth much salt in the first place.

              1. sans

                “they mean freedom to deny equality and access to minority experiences”

                You mean like using the “racist” card as a weapon when people disagree with you?

                1. Brains

                  i wont deny that that happens sometimes too. however, it’s a lot rarer than the trend of using the weapon of illegitimacy to prevent people’s voices from being heard. white people have no problem being heard in this country (including me), though i could be convinced that certain classes of white experience deserve more voice.

            2. Jason P

              A complaint against your style of posting is not a personal attack.

              1. Kyle

                “I’m just punching air, and if you happen to occupy that air, it’s not my fault.”

                1. Jason P

                  I think some of your concern with the direction of the franchise is completely justified. A lot of the points you make are very legitimate.

                  Its when you exaggerate for the purpose of generating angry responses like you id above that it becomes excessive.

        2. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

          “Trolling is posting for the purpose of annoying people and not adding to the discussion”

          Isn’t that what you is explicitly did? You may also want to add trolling is for the sole purpose of getting responses. You will always try to justify in your head what makes you not a troll. One of the smartest dudes on here. Disappointing you have to go out of your way to be the cool anti-everything poster on every board you post to get people to talk to you. You got your response you were looking for like always. Moving on.

          1. Kyle

            It’s a comments section. Why would anyone post anything without hoping for responses? If anybody didn’t want responses, they could just post it on a notepad without needing to pay for an internet connection.

            1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

              Added to annoying people and not adding to the discussion is trolling. Unfortunately, you think people disagree with you is the reason people are calling you a troll.

              1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

                I should add, I know you have been this way for at least 10 years, so I am not trying to change anything about you. You have always acted in this manner. Maybe it was being a journalist that made you smarter than everyone. Maybe it is just being smarter than everyone. I don’t know, and I don’t care. That, is just why most people are put off by you on every board you go to.

        3. TK

          Your post was clearly not meant to, with legitimate intent, contribute productively to the subject, whether to agree or disagree. All your post was was a pathetic, reaching attempt to dig at the FO. It WAS trolling.

          1. Kyle

            Again: It only seems like trolling because you disagree with it.

  6. MoneyBoy

    Brett: Thank you SO much for posting this.

  7. Ben (BG2383)

    wow, that was an excellent article. I agree 100% with the rebuild but the losing definitely hurts. I just hope in 2 or 3 years we aren’t looking at another manager and Theo trying to explain why he needs more time.

    1. wilbur

      In 2 or 3 years the cubs still may not have won a world series, but they should be closer to doing so, than now. Now the team is just still recovering from all the dreck that was left in place by hendry and his tribune overseers. That isn’t even completely done with either, soriano is still being paid, shark is still using the 10 million dollars hendry gave him to play baseball, as leverage to get a better deal from thecubs, castro is still getting managers fired and crane kenny is still restoring things like they have never been before. So the rebuild is barely underway, you have to rake some of the larger clods out of the way before you can get the new garden togrow. If theo needs more time, I say fine, give it to him. After decades of 500 ballclubs and wassted seasons and squandered opportunites, it is time to do it differently. Get some high draft picks, build up the farm system, then use free agents to fill in the gaps. Two teams can’t buy success at the same time, you have to take a better pathway to success..

      1. MichaelD

        Decades of .500 baseball? The Cubs have finished within 5 games of .500 three times in the last seventeen years, and one of those times the Cubs won the division. The Cubs problem was not putting up consistently mediocre teams, it was yo-yo nature of good years followed by bad years and there not being enough good years.

        1. Kyle

          Thank you. The whole “decades of .500 baseball” thing has come up several times, and it’s one of those things that makes me think that I’ve somehow slipped into an alternate universe from the one I grew up in.

          The Cubs have almost *never* played .500 baseball.

          1. MichaelD

            About the only time they played something close to .500 baseball consistently was the late 80s to early 90s, and even that is a stretch since most years they had 76 or 77 wins.

          2. TK

            “Thank you. The whole “decades of .500 baseball” thing has come up several times, and it’s one of those things that makes me think that I’ve somehow slipped into an alternate universe from the one I grew up in.

            The Cubs have almost *never* played .500 baseball.”

            So, it sounds like you’re not pleased with this truth . . . Yet you take odds with the FO and The Plan?????? THAT is awefully “illogical”! That old way clearly didnt work, and you clearly didnt like its results. Now that we have a FO trying to do it the RIGHT way, YOU STILL BITCH AND MOAN . . . Sounds likes problems other than baseball related. Also sounds a lot like TROLLING.

            1. Kyle

              The Cubs of the past were not built in a singular, monolithic way, and the way the current front office is not operating is not the other side of some imaginary coin where there are only two ways to build a baseball team.

  8. Michael

    Say the someone other than the mariners blow the rays out of the water with a deal do you think that the mariners could get desperate and trade for shark maybe walker?

  9. cub2014

    I enjoy this site and during the off season I enjoy
    talking about potential trades,prospects and free
    agents. I also like to second guess the decisions
    made by the front office.

    But I think its ridiculous when people get on here
    and bash the front office (but it is there opinion
    so to each there own).

    Lets get real about a few things:
    1. The FO and ownership wants to win.
    2. This FO is competent.
    3. Ownership might have current cash constraints
    4. Cards, Pirates & Reds are on top of their game
    right now. (Now is the ideal time to reuild)

    I have been a cubs fan since 1968 and I have never
    seen a total rebuild and they are very painful for a fan.

    However I have seen many times when we have tried
    to buy our way to the playoffs (with very limited success)

    This FO has updraded the minor league facilities and the
    entire staff, They have turned us into a top farm system
    just as they had intended. I hate that we havent addressed
    the Cubs big league roster but I understand the reasoning

    Though it is painful I am willing to give them the benefit of
    the doubt for another year or so. Money could have been
    spent the last 2 years but we would be what 10-15 games
    better but in the overall scheme who cares if we win 80

    So disagree with the FO & ownership all you want but be
    genuine in your criticism not combative for combatives sake.

    1. Coop

      Well said.

  10. YourResidentJag

    Article on Epstein with a short video of Renteria’s philosophy: http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/cubs-theo-sticking-plan-amid-hot-stove-madness

  11. Brains

    this sounds rather extreme as an example though, no? how about, “let’s do our best to resemble other teams in good faith, while we take 4-7 years to build the minor league system for sustainable play”. i would say that the team is not currently acting in good faith. if we sign tanaka i will gladly receive rotten tomatoes on the stage!! i’ll make you all marinara sauce for dinner afterwards.

    but i think we all know better. what this has really become is the struggle to maintain optimism about the pleasures of baseball during hard times, in spite of the obvious cynicism of big business.

    1. aaronb

      This!!!! Well said Brains

    2. wilbur

      You contradict yourself and don’t even know it. So not only are you wrong you are not even wrong for the right reasons.

      1. Kyle

        This is one of my favorite posts ever.

      2. Brains

        love the paradox, wilbur. being a fan of the cubs is currently a paradox indeed.

  12. HateDemp


    Well said – love the site, infrequently post myself but great writing and thoughts – agree 100%. Kyle – what specifically should’ve been done differently, both actions and timing? Where should we be in the rebuild?


  13. Ballrock20

    I’m going tomorrow to get season tickets for the Cubs. If it is possible, I’m thinking about purchasing two bleacher tickets. Does any season ticket holder have any advice about what seats to purchase?


    1. North Side Irish

      I’ve had Season Tickets for five years and have never come close to breaking even on them. Best advice I can give is to find friends to share the tickets with to spread out the financial burden and then pick seats you think will be appealing on the resale market. Bleachers are good because people know what that means and are usually easier to sell to the casual fans who may not know the seating chart. If you’re going with assigned seats, things like aisle seats or first row of a section are selling points to some people.

      Also, try to be aware of where the price levels split…you may be able to get cheaper seats by moving down a section. For instance, our seats in the closest section of the Upper Deck OF Box. The seats on the other side of the aisle from us are Upper Deck IF Box and cost $1400 more per seat.

    2. Jeff R

      I had bleacher season tix in 2011 & 2012. The bleacher seat location only matters when during the playoffs (I’m sure you knew this already). When I choose my seats, I just asked my ticket guy to make sure I was somewhere in right field. I couldn’t even tell you if my seats were there bc I never checked. Anyway, good luck and enjoy being a season ticket holder.

      1. Ballrock20


        I am splitting the tickets with my family and just wanted to make sure bleachers is an option. If bleachers are not an option, I know people in my family won’t go in on the tickets.

  14. Die hard

    Brett – first you rail against Aholes and now you ream Seattle a new one!!! You need a timeout IMHO

    1. YourResidentJag

      I’d don’t think it’s just Brett. The national media has been consumed with this story from last night into the morning hours.

      1. YourResidentJag

        And really I’m not sure Brett’s doing anything at all other than reporting what’s being reported.

  15. Pat

    While it’s not possible to verify the claims regarding the piece, I can fully believe the dynamic of the Armstrong / Wedge conversations. Unfortunately, I’ve seen it far too often in upper management types.

  16. johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    The Cubs need to strengthen their Bullpen. Add Choo. Play the kids. Trade Castro move Almora/Alcantara. Baez up. Add 2 SP. Choo, Almora/Alcantara, Bryant, Baez, Rizzo Schierholtz, Lake, Castillo

  17. Abe Froman

    Some of you guys come across as super negative, constantly, which is exactly what Brett was talking about this morning. Please tell us exactly what should be done and at what cost. Also, if you hate the front office so much why put so much energy into following the team? I think in some way your hearts are in the right place but it comes across as blanket pessimism that ignores any of the clearly growing positives like a long term approach and burgeoning farm system.

    The FO has been very transparent about why they are doing so the notion of all their hidden agendas just falls flat.

    1. Whiteflag

      I agree, some posters are very negative. However, I don’t think they should be asked to stop following a team, because they don’t agree with the FO. Most of have been fans for many years, and we all have a right to an opinion.

      1. Abe Froman

        I don’t disagree with you, just saying some people seem to rail constantly against the FO every day, doesn’t seem emotionally constructive. Suggesting that maybe taking a step back would be healthier, you’re right everyone has the right to follow the team and disagree, but at what point does it become too much? I think that is a fair question.

        1. Kyle

          How about you let us worry about our emotional standing?

          The condescension in this thought process is pretty thick.

          1. Abe Froman

            Not my intent. Sorry that it came across like that to you.

          2. Cheese Chad

            Dance-off, now!

            1. Abe Froman

              Just pulled my underwear out one handed.

    2. woody

      I for one have never been critical of the job that the FO has done as far as building the foundation. I think you would have to look wide and far to find anybody that could have transformed our farm system in such a short time. I just think that many fans are frustrated with the product on the MLB level. I have resigned myself to the fact that next year will be a struggle. But I feel good knowing that we are not signing people to the type of contracts that the Mariners have given. Good grief we are just getting out of the Soriano albatross at the end of this season. Playing the people we have this coming year should answer some lingering questions about where the team stands long term. For example if Rizzo should falter again then it may be a good idea to hold on to Vogelbach. I have a real good feeling about Renteria. I liked Dale but he didn’t strike me as the type that would be motivational. I think Sveum would have done fine with a club with veteran leadership, but there was a disconnect there especially with the Latin players. And in closing I think that with the the political landscape in Chicago and the activism of Joe Ricketts, that there was naturally going to be some animosity between many fans and ownership. Unfortunately Epstein and Hoyer can get mired in that mix when all they are doing is being baseball professionals.

    3. Andrew

      “Please tell us exactly what should be done and at what cost.”

      Why is this all of a sudden a requirement for people to dislike what an organization is doing? Why do the people that are for the complete tear-down able to talk in such vague language but the people against it aren’t? The people for the complete rebuild will say vague and unconstructive things like we need to “revamp the scouting and development”, “build a strong foundation for sustained success” and then when someone says “well, they should also spend some big money on free agents”, that person gets accused of not “telling us exactly what should be done and at what cost.”

      Now I for one have been fine with the decisions that have been made, assuming the money really isn’t there which appears to be the case. But just because I disagree with some of the cubs signings, or lack thereof, doesn’t mean i should like the cubs less. Read Dave Cameron’s posts sometimes. He seems to adamantly disagree with every move Seattle makes (with good reason), does that mean he should no longer root for that team? That’s absurd.

      “I think in some way your hearts are in the right place but it comes across as blanket pessimism that ignores any of the clearly growing positives like a long term approach and burgeoning farm system.”

      I like how you criticize blanket pessimism and then right afterwards preach blanket optimism.

      then you say “just saying some people seem to rail constantly against the FO every day”

      Maybe thats because a lot of the people here seem to praise the FO for every little move they make. Sign a minor league free agent=woah look at theo find value everywhere. Claim a guy off waivers=well thats a good no-risk move with some upside. The blind acceptance of “The Plan” is just as bad as blind pessimism about “The Plan”. The beauty of the internet is that regular people have more and more easy access to the stats and scouting reports that were previously unavailable. That means it that now we should be able to fully criticize an FO if it looks like they make a poor decision.

  18. woody

    My take on this whole Mariners thing is that I would think that some people in Japan will be taking note of that situation. A day ago I was thinking that Seattle was an attractive place to be. But with ownership like that I think it would be the last place a player would want to be for a long term contract. Sounds like the owner is competing with Marlins owner for the biggest ass in baseball. I would have to think that if Tanaka gets posted his handlers will be well aware of this.

  19. Cubs_Questions

    Reading a post like that and seeing just how bad that Mariners team is not only on the field but behind the scenes really makes me thankful as a fan that the Cubs at least seem to be working on a rebuild, even if it’s taking longer than expected. That M’s team is just in shambles.

  20. waffle

    just support your opinion and be ready to defend it with facts, not accusations and/or logical misdirection.

    I don’t think there is a person here who wants this to become a vanilla, FO YAYA, site.

    1. Kyle

      I’m perfectly prepared to defend it. Just not to the minute level of unnecessary detail that you demand from others but would likely not be interested in maintaining yourself.

  21. caryatid62

    And yet, a pretty compelling argument can be made that the Mariners will be a significantly better team than the Cubs in the next 5-10 years.

    They have a true #1 in Hernandez and a terrific #2 in Iwakuma, both of whom are better than any pitcher (or, frankly, player) on the Cubs.

    They have their own Castro-like reclamation projects in Montero, Ackley and Smoak, a top-10 system going into 2013 featuring Zunino, Walker, Hultzen, Paxton, Franklin, and Peterson.

    And they have the financial resources to spend significantly on high-end free agents.

    We can all laugh and snicker at this terrible front office (and don’t get me wrong, if this article is even close to true, it IS terrible), but let’s not look down our nose at a franchise that is going to likely provide it’s fans a much more competitive team in the short-term, and has a minor league system that rivals the one we spend so much time salivating over.

    1. YourResidentJag

      That’s a lot of reclamation projects,

      1. caryatid62

        The Cubs have less, only because they had less good players to start with.

        1. YourResidentJag

          So you agree that the M’s have more reclamations to deal with then? Montero and Smoak simply aren’t playing up to their projected potential. While it was a down year for Rizzo and Castro, I see an improvement coming for at least Rizzo and I’ve always felt him to be more of a supplementary, lower WAR value player in this offense anyway (and the Cubs still need that kind of player, BTW). The M’s have to get big contributions from guys that have been scuffling for some time now (Ackley and Smoak) as well as Zunino, who struggled last year. If they don’t they can have the greatest SP in the world and Cano and I think may only be in the wildcard hunt. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it.

          1. caryatid62

            In other words, you’re willing to make excuses for the young Cubs players who may have underperformed, but not the Mariners’.

            If the Cubs don’t get a bounce back year from Samardzija and Castro, they don’t even have the greatest SP in the world and an All-Star 2B. They have nothing on the MLB roster whatsoever aside from Rizzo, who you don’t believe to be a star anyway.

            Meanwhile, they’ve got 5 guys who were in Baseball America’s top 100 last year, with a top 10 pick from last year and another one this year. That seems to be pretty much no more or less than what the Cubs have.

            1. YourResidentJag

              The Mariners don’t develop their players effectively for success in the majors. The article states it. Dave Cameron has stated it, and now I’ve stated it. From there, I don’t know what else to tell you.

              1. caryatid62

                And, once again, the Cubs haven’t shown any ability yet to develop players for success in the majors either.

                I’m not sure what your point is–is it that you have more faith in the Cubs, despite a lack of results on par with the Mariners? That’s fine. You’re a fan. But the idea that the Cubs are even on par with the Mariners in the short and long-term at the moment is a stretch.

                1. Kyle

                  We’ve even managed to undevelop the most important one who was already in the majors.

                  1. Brains

                    i’ve been trying to express this point in different ways for a while. no one listens until i pull my expert hyperbole out. but this is a serious and fundamental problem in baseball fundamentals. we not only aren’t improving, we’re sliding backwards due to mismanagement of our current young mlb talent. this i do blame theo for, it’s embarrassing, really.

    2. Kyle

      shhh. Teams like the Dodgers and Mariners don’t have farm systems. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

      1. Andrew

        No they do, but theyre farm systems don’t have our amazing team of talent developers, so nothing can be expected of them.

  22. waffle

    2 years ago if you had shown me the TODAY cubs and asked would I be ok with that I would have enthusiastically said yes. I would have looked at it and said “damn, we might be a year or 2 away from being REALLY GOOD. Sweet!”

    1. Kyle

      I think you are overestimating the Cubs’ current position.

      There’s some nice prospects, but the revenue situation is problematic and the young MLB talent is severely lacking compared to the rest of the division.

      1. hansman

        I think the financial situation has been problematic for a while.

        1. Kyle

          It’s been getting worse with attendance drops and increasing no-shows.

      2. YourResidentJag

        Not sure I agree with the premise of the farm system being “severely lacking.”

        1. Kyle

          Read it again.

          1. YourResidentJag

            I’m not sure the farm system is “severly lacking compared to the rest of the division”. Read it. :)

            1. roz

              He said young MLB talent, not farm system.

              1. YourResidentJag

                Young MLB talent graduated from the farm system. Yeah. Ok. Severely is an awfully extreme word here.

                1. caryatid62

                  At the moment (i.e. the end of the 2013 season), the Cubs have MAYBE one or two above average young players on their major league roster. Meanwhile, the Pirates and Cardinals are filling all star teams with players under 25.

                  I’d say that’s severely lacking.

                  1. YourResidentJag

                    So, the Reds aren’t. Well there’s one less team that meets Kyle’s list. As for the Pirates, SP is sold. Offensively, once they lose the likes of Pedro Alvarez, or have to trade him before he hits FA, his offense at 3b will be difficult to replace for that position. The Cards. Well, yeah, but they’re ahead of most teams in MLB. The Cubs are part of a long line there.

                    1. YourResidentJag


                    2. Kyle

                      The Reds actually had the most production from young MLB talent of anyone in the division.

                      2013 total bWAR from players 25 and under, NL Central

                      Reds 13.3
                      Cardinals 11.0
                      Pirates 7.2
                      Brewers 6.3
                      Cubs 2.1

                      This is a problem going forward, because Pittsburgh and St. Louis have comparable farm systems and Cincinnati’s isn’t bad.

  23. waffle

    I sure do hope Renteria is good….that would be one more off of the TODO list for the cubbies. And last on that list is

    - Get some pricey FA’s to put our home grown heavy talented team over the top

  24. Jon

    This article reminds me of marriages. It’s easy to point at the Mariners FO as a broken marriage juxtaposed against the Cubs front office as the perfect marriage. I assure you, the Cubs don’t have that perfect marriage. “The plan has already been altered since the press conference two years ago and their is no end in sight to when they solve their political fights with the city and actually begin their business plan.

    It’s easy to poke fun at the Mariners I guess, but they at least have the financial health to sign a marquee player, while all the Ricketts can afford is scrap heap free agents

  25. waffle

    the FO is very very aware of the revenue aspect. I truly think they get it and will address it.

    Saying that, though, and making it happen are not the same things, I recognize it, and having a good team pulling in the paying fans would really be an assist.

  26. waffle

    and surely the cubbies revenue situation is probably better than 90% of the rest of the league.

  27. Justin

    Yeah the Mariners are a mess, but I agree with some above as a Cubs fan we have our own things to worry about. Can someone please explain to me why the Cubs financial flexibility is way worse than under the old ownership? Is it mainly because Ricketts spent too much money for the team? I am just confused on why the Cubs have to wait on jumbotrons, signs, and other stuff when they spent well in the past. Please help….

    1. Todd

      The cubs revenue situation is scary. If the wittmeyer article is true about restrictive covenants then it could be bad.


      Everyone complains that ricketts is cheap but it sounds like his hands are tied. While we don’t know the contracts, it may not be entirely about how much ricketts has to spend but whether the terms of his loan would allow him to spend money. If the cubs are stuck spending a certain percentage of their revenues on players then we have to wait for the TV money to come in, signage money to come, or attendance to somehow go back up before the loans would allow us to spend on free agents.

      1. Rebuilding

        That’s pretty much what they’ve been saying all along

      2. woody

        Considering that attendance is going down in response to the product on the field I think something has to give. I know that during the Sosa era that attendance shot up. Sammy was the face of baseball in Chicago. Seeing that nobody in the current lineup has that kind of star power I see the ownership/ FO possibly being forced to bring the young studs up regardless of Theo’s retoric. It is a business after all.

    2. Pat

      Debt service, potential renovation costs, potentially paying down some of the loans (I know the 540 some million cant be paid down yet due to the purchase agreement, but the loan from the trust might be in play), decreased attendance and revenue, and an expanded and much more expensive front office and board of directors all come into play.

      The Trib owned the team outright, so there’s a debt service issue of between 20 and 30 million per year they didn’t have to deal with. There’s the cash they are going to have to front to get the renovations started, unless they can ink several more major sponsors before it starts, that’s not a small amount. Even if you are financing most of it, which I’m sure they are, you’d need to put up at minimum ten percent, so that’s another 50 million.

      If they are paying down debt, that could be any amount, but let’s keep it small and say 10 million a year. Decreased attendance of 600,000 since the sale at, let’s say an average of 40 a ticket (the premium games still do better than the bad ones so it would be less than the $50 average ticket) is 24 million a year less revenue not counting concessions. Plus I’d estimate that the front office expansion and higher salaries paid to Theo, Jed, etc. and the Ricketts family salaries for being on the board is easily 10 million more than the costs under the Trib.

  28. Whiteflag

    While I think, we have one of the best FO in baseball. I thought we would be further along in the rebuild at this point. As many have pointed out, Theo promised a rebuild on parallel fronts. We haven’t seen it. The farm system continues to improve, but the major league roster is declining rapidly. It’s not that I am losing faith in Theo, but we haven’t necessarily been provided what we were promised. Does payroll and unfortunate luck have a lot to do with it? Yes. We missed out on some big free agents and had some unfortunate regression. I am not happy with the current state of the organization, but I wouldn’t want anyone else trying to right the ship.

  29. waffle

    but again, what exactly should the FO have done to improve the big league team? I don’t believe it wasn’t their intention to be good, but I do not see what the obvious moves might have been. And the one thing I am glad they didn’t do is trade minor league assets for big league talent.

    I like most of the moves we have made. My least favorite probably was Sveum. Not saying he was terrible, but he sure didn’t seem to help matters. Hopefully Renteria makes a difference

    1. Whiteflag

      You are right, Waffle. I am not sure what else, they could have done. The free agents I would have wanted them to go after, they did. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to land them.

  30. 70'scub

    The Cubs have cleaned out the organization from both the top and the bottom like Theo promised “dual purpose”. Shark may be last “good” player moved for impact young pitching that is aged bracketed with the young Cub impact bats. Maybe to make better use of 2014 the Cubs spend some money to flip. The rebuild is about developing premium power bats, eliminating organizational pitching deficit and implementing a system that gives every young potential Cub a real opportunity to max out their given talent.

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