Will Cubs Face Tough Questions at the Convention? And Other Bullets

2014 Cubs ConventionThe 2014 Cubs Convention kicks off in just two days, and I’ll be there with bells on (actually, distinctive yellow and blue shoes). I hope to see many of you there – if you’re around on Friday night, a group of other bloggers/writers and BN’ers will be at Lizzie McNeil’s, a bar just around the corner from the Sheraton, where CubsCon is held. Stop by and say hello. And if you see me over the course of the weekend, don’t hesitate to say hi. I pretty much look like my picture, will be wearing those yellow and blue shoes, and I am … not tall (but, hey, 5’8″ at my last physical!).

  • Speaking of the Convention, Bruce Miles notes that there could be a few tense moments this weekend, with fans potentially grilling the Ricketts Family about a lack of progress on the Wrigley renovation (or lack of spending), and/or grilling the front office about a lack of moves this offseason. I certainly hope so. Not because I necessarily agree with a hostile tenor, but (1) I hope to see some candid, thoughtful responses on issues that really matter, and (2) the fans deserve a chance to ask whatever hard questions they want to ask at this point – I believe in the rebuild as much as anyone, but I also recognize that fans have been saddled with watching a non-competitive team for five years now. If you’re going to ask them for patience (and to keep buying tickets), then the least you can offer is candor about the state of things.
  • That all said, I don’t know how much we’ll really get, in part because it’s a Cubs fan convention, which tends to host mostly the kinds of folks who are all about the Cubs, all of the time, no matter what. Also, Q&A sessions last only so long, and some folks really, really love to hear themselves speak.
  • SI’s preliminary report card for the Cubs is actually a ‘C’, which is impressive, all things considered. There is an acknowledgement there that the offseason is not over, and also, the big moves out there haven’t made much sense for the Cubs going into 2014.
  • Patrick Mooney writes about Rick Renteria, and Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that RR was next on his list after Kirk Gibson when they had a managerial opening. Does that mean RR likes dirtbags?
  • How do you know your team had bad luck last year? When stats man Dan Szymborski selects six bounceback candidates for 2014, and half of them are on your team, it’s a fair bet that there was some bad luck last year. There are reasons to believe each of Starlin Castro, Edwin Jackson, and Anthony Rizzo can dramatically improve their output next year.
  • In advance of his no-seriously-I’m really-doing-it-this-time retirement in January 2015, Commissioner Bud Selig would like to do a Mariano Rivera-style farewell tour of all 30 teams this season, he tells Jayson Stark. Not unlike his tenure, I think that will come with mixed results.

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

159 responses to “Will Cubs Face Tough Questions at the Convention? And Other Bullets”

  1. David

    Im going into this season with a mindset of the glass is half full. I do believe that the guys on the guys mentioned above will have bounce back years. Especially Jackson. Shark, Wood and Jackson doesn’t seem “90+ wins bad”, factoring in the drastically improved bullpen.

  2. brainiac

    they should absolutely face questions. say what you will about this year’s free agent class, but it wasn’t bad and there was zero reason not to sign someone or another to help the team. perhaps we still will? but in the meantime the cubs, rumored to be one of the 3 or 4 most profitable teams, aren’t using revenues for the team itself. sure things will probably change eventually, perhaps after the ricektts sell the team. but at the moment the future looks bleak with a forecast for moping. i know we have some great prospects but a lot of teams have had talent come up and not change the dynamic of their winning or losing culture. it’s a gamble.

  3. CubFan Paul

    “recognize that fans have been saddled with watching a non-competitive team for five years now”

    This breaks my heart. It hurts.

    I try to concentrate on the Theo&Co regime/era but when I really think about it, it hurts, because that’s a lot of baseball.

    1. Baseball_Writes

      Great way to put it CubFan Paul. I look at it and I know they are doing the right thing, but I think about my 2 kids (a 5 year-old and an 8 month-old), and I say to myself “all they know is a Cubs team that loses games”.

      I try to stay logical about the situation, but it is hard not to think about it that way.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        I am nearly 50 and that statement has been true for most of my life.

        1. PDX Cubs Fan

          I am 62 and I totally agree with you Doc. It seems everything they have tried has failed. Maybe a few short term successes here and there, but never any trend of being a consistent winner year in and year out. Part of the reason is I don’t think they have EVER stuck to a plan!

      2. CubbiesOHCubbies

        To be fair, all the 8 month old knows is, “geez, I sure could go for a nice cold milk right about now” and, “hey, here comes that nice lady to wipe my butt for me.”

        Man, I long for the days when this is what life was.

        1. Baseball_Writes

          Haha! Ok, that’s true. She’s not quite aware of it. You should see the look on my 5 year-old’s face, though, when she asked who won and I have to tell her “the red (or black or orange) team. She gets sad.

          But, dumbledore is right. When she’s 7 or 8 (OR 6??) and we are celebrate Cubs victories it will be that much sweeter.

      3. dumbledoresacubsfan

        But let’s be honest. I’d rather only know a loserly Cubs team for the first 5, 6, 7, even 8 years of my life in exchange for a Cubs team that wins games when I actually care.

        I could care less that back in 2003, when I was 11, we had a “good run,” or that we had decent teams in the few years prior and following. I simply didn’t pay THAT much attention to professional sports–I was caught up in my own thing.

        But a winning team when you’re old enough to understand, care, etc.? That’s gold.

        1. On The Farm

          “But a winning team when you’re old enough to understand, care, etc.? That’s gold.’

          I second this.

          1. Baseball_Writes

            Totally on board with that.

        2. soultosoul

          I was fully on board with the rebuild – had been screaming for this for a long time as way overdue. Having said that, however, I’m really getting sick of my team’s only moves being grabbing someone off the scrap heap, try to catch lightning in a bottle, and flip them for prospects. As a fan, this got old a long long time ago.

          I’m not with the sign all the big name players crowd – though I would have made more of a run at Pujols. Most of them aren’t even close to worth it. But when wasting $$ on Edwin Jackson is your biggest move in 2(?) 3(?) offseasons. Hard to keep the faith.

          1. On The Farm

            “I was fully on board with the rebuild – had been screaming for this for a long time as way overdue…. As a fan, this got old a long long time ago.”

            How fast do you think rebuilds in the MLB take? Do you think it’s like the NBA where you can completely turnover a 15 man roster in two years and you’re done? The MLB requires more player development than any other sport. You can’t just take your 1st round picks in back-to-back years and hope that fixes your problem like you can in basketball or even football. This was a team with no farm system, no MLB star players, and lacking in current technology. This was obviously going to take some time.

            1. soultosoul

              Disclaimer: I have no answers or probably any better way to proceed than what the Cubs are currently doing. I’m just a frustrated life-long fan.

              You’re absolutely right, especially when you are trying to basically rebuild an entire organization instead of a team. It’s just boring sitting around waiting for some team to DFA a player because they can’t cut it on that team, but they’re plenty good for us.

              As I said, I’m not advocating blasting the budget for someone like Cano or Fielder last year. If Kershaw were to become available that is a different story.

              Our ‘pennant race” is counting the games until Baez reaches the service time threshold and the team doesn’t lose a year of control. Good grief. Frustrating is all. Used to plan out a trip to Wrigley and start getting jacked this time of year waiting for Opening Day. haven’t been to Wrigley since 2008 and haven’t listened to a game since 2009 (and have no plans at this point to do either). Baseball season is over for me and it hasn’t even started (and I work with nothing but Cardinal fans, which makes it 1000X worse).

        3. brainiac

          let’s be honest – preaching defeatism as a means to thriving makes no sense. losing is not a strategy for winning. this also assumes that the process of losing for many, many years by design will *guarantee* future winning. odds are, at best, the cubs start to make a series of “good runs” like in the 1990s, kind of like tampa bay does now. the only difference is that we will have literally forfeited 7-10 years of good faith to join the mainstream of the rest of baseball. i really think that the *rhetoric” of these years will be seen as historical absurdity in the future. they’re not only team with bad owners and a long rebuild, but they’re the only ones who promise that you have to go through hell to follow the road to heaven.

  4. Stu

    The real issue that about the finances of the Cubs is about transparency. The Ricketts are evasive about total revenue and the breakdown of their expenses including debt service. That is their right and I don’t have a problem with it.

    Most fans just don’t want their loyalty to be used against them by being financially taken advantage of. Even Brett probably thinks that having a sub $100M payroll is a little silly given a conservative look at revenue potential for this year.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “that having a sub $100M payroll is a little silly given a conservative look at revenue potential for this year”

      If they sign Tanaka, they reach $100M

      posting fee $13M
      signing bonus $5M
      1st year salary $14M
      payroll now $75Mish

      total $107M

      1. Old Fat Guy

        No offense meant CubFan Paul, but “if” is a mighty big word ( as my mom used to say ).

        While I would like it if the Cubs would sign him, being realistic, I think the odds are not that great.

        Also, just a question, but is the remainder of Soriano’s contract part of that $100 Million?

        If it is, personally, I don’t count that. I understand that it may be counted, but I don’t think it should be.

        1. CubFan Paul

          “but “if” is a mighty big word”

          It’s two letters Bub.

          “I think the odds are not that great”

          I think the reverse, because the Cubs have the most financial flexibility of all the teams involved.

          “is the remainder of Soriano’s contract part of that $100 Million?”

          Yes it is, it’s included in the $75M part, as in where the team stands now (assuming all the arb players sign and don’t get traded).

          “but I don’t think it should be”

          It’s total payroll, every penny counts

          1. jp3

            How do you figure we have the most financial flexibility? We have demonstrated 0 propensity for signing anyone for more than a nickel to this point under the rickets. I’m with you we SHOULD be able to but we’re still squeezing every penny until Abe is screaming. In fact we created a new mascot it looks like to sell more crap through merchandise to increase the bottom line.

            1. CubFan Paul

              “How do you figure we have the most financial flexibility?”

              Payroll has been capped at $105M-$110M, it’s at $75M now without a 5th starter.

              “have demonstrated 0 propensity for signing anyone for more than a nickel to this point under the rickets”

              Payroll cap. But now, a lot of contracts have fallen off the books creating more financial flexibility than any other team in on Tanaka.

              1. jp3

                I hear you, I hope there is a floor somewhere along with the cap of $105million and the cubs brass not signing another Scott baker type to fill out the rotation and say “well we tried but the right arm just wasn’t available so we decided to save lots more money for the future”.

          2. Old Fat Guy

            “It’s two letters Bub.”

            Ooh, ya got me, Mac…

    2. hansman

      “The Ricketts are evasive about total revenue ”

      WHEN HAS ANY MLB TEAM EVER DISCLOSED THEIR REVENUE?

      Jesus, some fans are expecting things out of the Cubs that no team would ever do or want public.

      I would LOVE to see the Cubs books or have Tom be more honest about the finances but at the end of the day neither of those will happen so we are left parsing the definition of the word “is”.

    3. FullCountTommy

      This is not a publicly traded company, they have absolutely zero obligation to report their revenue and if they did, it would put them at an extreme competitive disadvantage against the rest of the league.

  5. Stu

    And don’t start with the argument that their was no one worth signing in the offseason.

    Let that one go.

    1. Baseball_Writes

      Who did you want them to sign?

      1. brickhouse

        It is a cop out to ask who do you want them to sign. Ricketts has paid for one of the best front offices in baseball to sign/trade/promote players to build a better team. Many other teams have signed and traded for players to make huge improvements to their baseball team. Every team does not throw away multiple season in the hopes the prospects lead the team back in a few years.

        1. Baseball_Writes

          When the implication or statement is that they should have signed somebody that they didn’t, asking who is a very fair question.

          Who do you want on the books for this team right now that is not and why?

          You are right that they have paid for THE best front office in baseball. He saw value in that. Where do you think the value was this offseason?

          1. Kyle

            They aren’t close to the best front office in baseball, and the list of players that could have helped this organization is in the dozens.

            1. Baseball_Writes

              Who do you think is the best? Also, if they aren’t close, then how would you rank them and why?

              1. Kyle

                I’d put them clearly behind (in no particular order): Texas, Boston, Tampa, Oakland, St. Louis for sure.

                Roughly in the same tier as Pittsburgh, Toronto, Colorado, Cincinnati.

          2. brickhouse

            What about trades the front office could have made the past few offseasons ? There have been plenty of players the team could have signed that would have improved the team. To start naming names just starts another round of posts how they could not or the player would not want to come here. Based off the improvement I have seen other teams make I think it is easy to see the Cubs could have also improved. This is Ricketts 5th year and Epstein’s 3rd off season and if they had decided to make incremental improvement each year instead of delaying the building of the major league team and focus on building the farm you would have a vastly different looking team on the field in 2014. Of course that would make the front office accountable to win instead of pushing hope for the future and the years of “sustained success” that have been promised.

            1. Lukas

              They have been making improvements each year. Flipping mediocre veterans with no future with this team for young cost-controlled talent is exactly what they should be doing to improve.

              1. Kyle

                They’re treading water.

                They’ve improved the farm system, but damaged the revenue base and somehow had the young MLB talent take a step backward.

                1. Lukas

                  The step backward for they young guys is tough and a bit unlucky sure, but there is plenty of reason to be excited about what that same group will do when they are playing to their abilities.

                  To me, keeping Dejesus, Feldman, Soriano, or Hairston would be treading water. That way they would have been more than likley forced to spend large amounts on the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury or someone similar, who is more likely to regress and not play up to what is expected due to his declining abilities with age.

                  I will take the young players with tons of upside (along with the many prospects) to the aging veterans that this team could be putting out their this spring.

        2. bbmoney

          It’s not a cop out at all. Once someone signs you know what the price is, and you’d have to, more likely than not, beat that price.

          Given what you know would you have wanted them to sign Cano, Choo, Ellsbury, Granderson, etc.? Your answer can be yes and that’s fine, but I don’t think, given the cost that any of those moves would have been prudent for the Cubs. The remaining guys are still unknowns, but we still don’t know the Cubs won’t sign any of them either.

          “Every team does not throw away multiple season in the hopes the prospects lead the team back in a few years.”

          That’s the cop out statement if there is one in this thread. All situations are different, not all teams were in the Cubs situation when this decision was made…so yeah… of course not all teams do that, but that’s not really relevant to the exact set of circumstances the Cubs were facing.

          1. Kyle

            Signing players like that can’t be less prudent than dooming the team to a prolonged stretch of losing that threatens to take over Epstein’s entire initial contract.

            1. bbmoney

              Sure, if we knew the outcome of not signing those specific guys this off season 100% meant that.

              1. Kyle

                Nothing is ever 100% in baseball. We can only project from what we know.

                As of right now, imo, the projections don’t look good for the next few years. We’re going to need major outside organizational talent to compete before or during 2016 absent unbelievable levels of internal development. That outside organizational talent is still going to be expensive and imperfect, so I don’t have much reason to believe we’re going to get it.

          2. Baseball_Writes

            bbmoney -I like how you said, “if your answer is ‘yes’ … that’s fine”. That’s kind of what I am getting at. My original response to Stu was not meant to disagree but just to get answer.

            I think that people are either afraid to answer the question or do not know how. So, I always ask “why?” or “who?”, because I believe in taking a logical approach as opposed to an approach fraught with emotion. Because everything should be done for a reason.

            Here’s a great example: a few weeks ago I said that if the Cubs did not sign Tanaka, then Theo Epstein was a liar. Because I was at the downtown event and sat no more than 25 feet from him when he said if there were 25 year-old free agents the Cubs would sign them. Someone asked me “why?” and pointed out to me how illogical that approach was. The Cubs should, in fact, go EXTREMELY hard after him. They should make it very difficult for him to say no. But, who he signs with is not up to them. They could offer $100 million more than any other team and he could still choose to go somewhere else.

            I was speaking from emotion in that statement, and I retract it. I think if we take a logical approach things will be good. And soon.

            Anyway, that’s why I ask. I just want a reason. And I think that’s fair.

        3. JM

          And He is doing that. It is just taking longer than you, or any of us, want.

          Think of the current foundation versus that of several years ago. I dare say there isnt anyone that doesn’t appreciate the current state of the farm system. The Cubs must be strong at the bottom before they can be good at the top.

          The Angels are the perfect example of not spending money just cause you have it.

          1. Edwin

            It cost a lot to get our current farm system though, and we’re still 1-2 seasons away from it possibly paying off.

            The Angels have won 80, 86, 89, and 78 games the past 4 seasons. They’re not great, but they’ll probably be a playoff contender this season. If they can build their farm system up over the next couple years, they’ll be able to offset some of those worsening contracts with cheap young talent.

            1. JM

              No, they have dying contracts.

              Besides, the goal isn’t playoffs, it’s championships.

              1. Kyle

                There’s not many, if any, good ways to make your team a championship-team besides just getting to the playoffs as often as possible, so the difference is meaningless.

        4. DocPeterWimsey

          No, it is not a copout. The Cubs have needs. The free agent market did not really meet those needs. Ellsbury was the closest thing to a good sign: but he’s already 30, has a major track record of injuries, and there still might be some bad feelings between Els and the Cubs current FO over how Elsbury was handled in a prior injury.

          Once again, no 3Bmen were available as FA, nor has anybody been able to trade for one. Only one 2Bman was available via FA, and he got a “we’ll DH you later” contract. The Tigers were able to acquire Kinsler: but in exchange for a big power-hitter the likes of which the Cubs do not have. (It was also a bit of a “Let’s trade dubious-looking contracts” deal.”) The Cubs need good OFers: but, again, the FA market had a lot of questionable players (Els, Choo [who is going to be a platoon player very soon], Granderson [declining with an alarming increase in K's]). Last year had BJ Upton (who’s alarming K rate became more alarming) and Bourne (meh). Justin Upton was available for trade IF you had MLB-ready players who grunted in Gibson. (The Cubs now-vaunted farm system still is short on MLB-ready talent: some of them *might* reach MLB in 2014, but those are not good guys for trades in 2011/12 or 2012/13.)

          If you need milk and the store is out, then it really doesn’t matter that the store has a lot of cookies. The Cubs (and everyone else) have been forced to shop in a store without a lot of staples the last few offseasons. This probably will become common over the lifetime of this CBA, too, so get used to it.

          1. Kyle

            If that is how the Cubs feel, then finishing outside the playoffs will also continue to be common under the lifetime of this CBA, too, so get used to it.

    2. JM

      Yes, but in the whole scheme of things, who would you have them sign? Maybe a second baseman, but there’s little to gain from that. Third base? There is already several players projected for third within two years. To get someone of impact, they’d want long term and big bucks. Pointless. Outfield? Might give you one there, but whoever isn’t at third may be ticketed out there… so here we are again.

      In my opinion, it’s all about the prospects. They will dictate the future of the Cubs on the fiield, which willl dictate future spending. Patience is truly difficult!

      1. Kyle

        In order of need, this team could desperately use:

        An outfielder
        Two starting pitchers
        Another outfielder
        An infielder on a one or two year deal
        A utility man

        1. FullCountTommy

          And pay Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo 150 milion dollars, or Nelson Cruz 75 million dollars. How about Jimenez, Garza, or Santana for 100 million?? Any of those sound like good deals to you??

          Jason Hammel on a Feldman like deal, sure. I liked bringing back Sweeney. Junior Lake needs a shot. George Kottaras is a solid backup catcher. Have they made game-changing deals, no, but the ones that were out there, I want nothing to do with

          1. Kyle

            Some of those deals sound pretty good to me, yes.

            But I’m one of those weirdos more interested in winning baseball games than efficiency charts.

            1. FullCountTommy

              Kyle, no offense man, but I sure don’t want you running my baseball team.

              1. Kyle

                Right back atcha

                1. FullCountTommy

                  You realize budgets exist, right? To make these team even close to a playoff contender next year, it would take close to 500 million dollars in contracts, if not more

                  1. Kyle

                    I am familiar with the existence of budgets, yes.

                    What is “close to a playoff contender?” A 90-win projection? An 85-win projection?

                    Almost all teams have some amount of playoff opportunity going into the season, because baseball is a high-variance sport. Would it have taken hundreds of millions in commitments to get the Cubs to the top of the heap? Sure.

                    But something like last offseason, with around $100m in commits, could have gotten the team a puncher’s chance and would have been quite worthwhile.

                    You don’t have to dig that deep on the internet to find dozens of posts from Red Sox fans in late 2012 arguing that there was no point in signing free agents for 2013 because the team was too far away.

                    1. FullCountTommy

                      A Red Sox team who had quite a bit more talent than the Cubs team currently does. And the deals they made, were 150 million dollar commitments. They paid Victorino 40 million, Dempster 35, and Napoli like 5. For the price, there just wasn’t anyone out there worth signing. Veras was a solid pickup, and I still think they sign a guy like Jason Hammel.

                    2. DocPeterWimsey

                      OK, let’s take an 85-win projection. The 2011 Cubs played like a 0.467 team based on net OPS. To get up to 85 win expectation, the Cubs would have needed an improvement of +0.066 in net OPS.

                      From 2011-2013, four teams (Pittsburgh, Oakland, Baltimore and Cleveland) have done that. Moreover, these do not represent “quick fixes”: each team did it largely with players acquired before the 2011/12 offseason. The A’s had one “splashy” signing, and he contributed very little to the teams net OPS in 2013, too.

                      Going down just a smidgen, the Tigers’ 2-year improvement would have taken the 2011 Cubs to an 84 win expectation. Again, a lot of the groundwork for that was laid before 2011/12, although it was aided by at least one big FA signing and one good mid-season acquisition who subsequently used our Cubbies as negotiation leverage!

                      The Nats’ improvement would have taken a 0.467 team up to 83-84 expected wins. Again, the real groundwork for that was laid prior to 2011/12, although one FA signing in particular (Werth) contributed a bit to that as did a trade (Gonzalez).

                      If I get a chance, then I’ll try to find out what the recent history of 2-year shifts in expected performance has been like. However, it’s certainly been hard to generate an expected improvement in winning percentage of 0.05 or greater on the fly over the last two years.

                    3. Kyle

                      All of which reminds us that we need to be laying the ground work now if we want to have that sort of improvement in the next two seasons.

          2. hansman

            If I knew that I could still add Tanaka after it, that the rooftops would eventually agree to not sue and the TV deal looks good, I would have done Choo for $150M. I wouldn’t have liked the deal but I would have done it. My main cause for pause on him is that he is coming off a career year and got paid for it.

            Odds are in 3 years he will be the most expensive platoon guy in the history of the sport but we should have some awesome revenue by then and his deal won’t be quite so bad. Plus, odds are, in 2 years we can probably trade him similar to the Tigers/Rangers swap this year.

            However, if the rooftops won’t budge from suing and holding up construction the Cubs could be in a pretty serious bind if they can’t get the Jumbotron and RF signage up and we added $40M in payroll this offseason for 2 players. The apparent FA pitching next year looks miles better than this year’s and the payroll flexibility will be nice to have. Most of the free agents that were available this year will have similar players next year (same as last year to this year).

            1. brickhouse

              You have an extra 25 million from the new national tv deal and will be getting extra local tv money from either a renegotiated WGN deal or from Fox then a huge local tv deal starting in 2020. The signage and jumbotron will basically pay for the renovations. TV money and attendance will be able to support a much bigger payroll than what is currently being put on the field.

        2. JM

          And of those needs, who, specifically, specifically fills them that you think would put us (the Cubs) ahead of the Cardinals and Reds?

          1. Kyle

            This year? Probably none of them. Possibly a few combinations of three or four of them.

            But most of them would have gotten us closer to being ahead of the Cardinals and Reds in 2015 and 2016, a proposition which looks pretty shaky right now.

          2. Edwin

            If you judge every single baseball move by itself and ask “will this move make us the best team in the division?”, you’ll never make a move, ever. Unless somehow you’re in the rare situation where your team is almost completely composed of cheap young homegrown players that propell you to 84-88 wins. It will be 2-3 years, if then, before we can expect that from our farm system.

            Also, something to think about, if every single “big” move this offseason has been an overpay, then it stops being an overpay, and just becomes market rate.

            1. Lukas

              The free agent market was pretty damn mediocre this offseason, of course the few good players available are going to come with a huge price tag.

              I wouldn’t exactly use that as a reason to say “fuck it” and blow all your money on Choo or Ellsbury or some other dude just so you can show someone you’re “trying” or something.

              1. Kyle

                The FA markets are going to continue to be thin and the prices are going to continue to be high.

                Your choices are to blow all your money on a guy like that or never spend it at all.

                1. BT

                  The plan is to blow all their money on a guy like that when they have the makings of a 75-85 win team, not a 65-75 win team. Right now they are targeting 25-28 year old free agents, which are few and far between (and they have no guarantee of getting any of them). Once the minor leagues start filling in the roster, and the team has a legitimate (not a “hey, it could happen”) chance, they will sign those free agents. Signing them now, paying them enormous sums and wasting their most productive years in order to field a .500 team, is pointless.

                  1. Edwin

                    Waiting for a legitimate shot from a mostly homegrown roster will take 2-3 years, and there is no gaurantee that they ever reach the level where you’d be happy with the Cubs spending.

                2. Lukas

                  Or spend it when it benefits the team more than it would now. There are most certainly other choices than what you listed.

                  Not spending now does not mean they won’t spend in the future when they feel it makes more sense

                  1. Kyle

                    It would benefit the team greatly now.

                    It couldn’t possibly make more sense than now. We have a team desperately in need of upgrades, severely dropping attendance and more financial flexibility than we know what to do with.

                    1. BT

                      For starters, you haven’t the slightest clue what their financial flexibility is (nor, to be fair, do I). Secondly, if the the front office is going to make major financial decisions based on attendance, I don’t want that front office making decisions. Period. Signing guys to go from bad to mediocre is pointless. Signing major free agents who will be paid large amount of money right at the time they start to decline and the core of the the minor leagues is ready to contribute is pointless. You keep making comments about groundwork, signing guys over 30 to long term contracts isn’t groundwork. You sign them for immediate results.

                    2. Lukas

                      Signing one of the expensive, old OF available this offseason would not have made much of a difference this season. (my opinion of course)

                      I don’t see the point in spending that much money on someone who likely won’t contribute much when this team is seriously ready to compete.

                      With that said I would have liked them to take a chance on Hart or someone similar. Someone on a short term deal to help bridge the gap and help out if team gets incredibly lucky and threatens to compete.

      2. Edwin

        Prospects are risky enough that I don’t think you should ever hold an MLB spot for a prospect who is more than 1 year away. If there is a hole on the MLB team, no immeadiate help from the farm system, and there is a FA that fits that need, I say sign the FA, unless the deal gets so high that you can find a way to spend the money better elsewhere.

        1. JM

          Agreed, yet aren’t there two such players now (Baez, Bryant) with Almora nipping their heels and Soler just behind him?

          I know it’s an arguable point, and certainly not all prospects make it, but in this instance I thinks it serves them better to stick with the plan.

          1. Kyle

            Baez and Bryant are close.

            Soler and Almora aren’t close to close.

            1. Luke

              Bryant and Soler are effectively at the same level. If Bryant is close, then there is at least a strong chance that Soler isn’t too far behind him.

              I think Almora has a ways to go, but a lot of analysts seem to think he is going to rocket up the system in a hurry.

              1. Kyle

                Completely disagree. Bryant is on a different track and has a completely different talent level from Soler.

                1. Chad

                  I think it is hard to know what Soler’s path is due to injuries. If he is healthy this year is it inconceivable that he would reach AAA? He is likely to start in AA, maybe high A, but if he does well and moves quickly there is no reason he couldn’t be on a similar, though slightly slower path than Bryant.

                  1. Kyle

                    Inconceivable? No. Unlikely in the extreme? Yes.

                    His season is probably going to be split between A+ and AA in some ratio. We’ll see how long it takes him to get to AA.

                    1. Chad

                      So if he makes it to AA and finishes there and starts 2015 in AAA with it ending in Chicago and that is one year behind Bryant is that that big of a gap? I mean were just splitting hairs on definition how fast is fast I guess. You never know Soler could go Puig and jump from AA. I have not heard but is he guaranteed to start at A+?

                    2. blublud

                      I really doubt Soler is returned to A+. I’d almost be willing to bet my life he starts at AA.

                    3. Kyle

                      If we assume two levels per year, then no he’s not that far behind.

                    4. blublud

                      I think Soler is as likely, if not more likely to see the Majors this year than Bryant if they both star at AA. The main reason is Soler is already on the 40 man.

              2. blublud

                “Rocket up the system in a hurry”

                1.5 years after being drafted, he has never played a game in A+ or higher. Let’s kill the talk of Almora rocketing up the system. Even if he reaches AA this season, and AAA to start next season, majors by June 2015, that’s fast, but I would not consider 3 year after being drafted rocketing. Griffey Jr, ARod even Jason Hey ward, they Rocketed through the minors. Baez even made it to AAA in only 2 seasons.

                1. mjhurdle

                  i would assume that they are referring to the future, not his minor league career as a whole. If someone goes from A+ to the MLB in 1.5 years, that would be “rocketing up the system’, regardless of how long they spent in A+ prior.
                  (not saying that Almora will be on the Cubs next summer, just using it as an example)

                  1. Patrick W.

                    There’s also a little issue of surgery in there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Almora finish very high in the organization, even AAA

                2. BWA

                  3 years out of high school is pretty darn fast. Maybe not the fastest, but probably in the top 10%

                  1. blublud

                    Making it to the MLB at all is about 10%. But when Almora is 1.5 years out of the draft, and still has only played at the lowest level of full season ball, I don’t call that Rocketing. Also, I see nothing that makes me believe he’ll move any faster(or slower) than Soler or Bryant, and definitely not Baez. Even Baez, as much as I love him as a prospect, is only starting at AAA this year because he had a run at Tennessee that, while skill had a lot to do with it, was a whole lot of luck also.

                    1. blublud

                      This from a guy who feels Theo and Co. are slow rolling the prospects to much. I felt he should have been in A+ for at least a month, if not more, last year.

                    2. Luke

                      Had it not been for the injuries, he would have been in High A last year.

        2. cms0101

          That is certainly true. I still don’t see the appealing OF free agent that they should have gone after out on the market. They need another bat, probably in the OF, but I don’t feel like, for example, Nelson Cruz is the answer. I don’t want them to leave a spot open to wait on Soler, or someone else like that. But I also don’t want them to sign someone just for the sake of getting a veteran body out there. They do have enough guys that could start or platoon at this point, so why not allow that to play out a bit. They’ve improved their worst area of need, relief pitching. With Soriano gone they don’t have a good run producer to slide into the lineup, but maybe that could be mitigated with a Rizzo bounce-back, or Olt taking over 3B and being healthy. They could always buy low or make a low-end trade for an OF if the existing options end up falling on their faces. They have low-rated prospects that they could move for a 4th OF type that maybe just needs a starting spot to blossom. I would like to see more of Lake, Sweeney, Vitters, and maybe even be introduced to Ha from AAA. Not all-star caliber players, but maybe they could get enough out of the mix they have to be decent enough. A good defensive team with a good bullpen, but maybe lacking some power doesn’t sound that bad. The power is coming, and in bunches. I just don’t feel like bringing in an overpriced vet to hopefully supply that power at this stage is logical. I agree with your overall premise though, no prospect ready, FA available to fill hole, sign him. I just don’t think the conditions right now meet that strategy.

          1. woody

            In regards to signing a guy like Cruz for his bat brings me back to a subject that has been debated before. And that subject is leaving Rizzo exposed and in a position where opposing teams feel like they can risk pitching around him and get away with it because there is no big bat behind him. Admittedly Schierholtz did a nice job last year against right handed pitching, but against a lefty the strategy of walking Rizzo to get at Schierholtz was a winning proposition. I have read comments here in the past that the protection thing was just a myth. With a weaker hitter behind him Rizzo is going to get less pitches over the plate period. Especially with a runner in scoring position and first base open. With Baez and Bryant in the lineup that shouldn’t ever be a problem. But I wouldn’t do more than a one year deal with anybody considering how close those two guys are to advancement. On the subject of moving Bryant to the outfield I only have on concern and that is balance. That projects a future outfield of all right handed hitters. But moving back to Rizzo I think that he may possibly struggle again considering how weak we are in the middle of the order.

        3. Lukas

          I don’t think they are holding MLB spots for the very young prospects. Though they are choosing to be very selective about who they bring in and at what price.

          At the stage they are at this offseason it seems to make more sense to continue to build from the bottom and look for the bargain players that they can sell off if they need to later on. That doesn’t mean they are treading water or standing still, the talent they have in the org this spring is already an improvement over last year. Much much more upside.

      3. blewett

        I agree with JM’s comment that the “prospects will determine future spending.” Why sign a 3B when you have Olt, Vitters, and eventually Bryant to audition? Why sign a 2B when you have Baez and Alcantara on the way?

        Signing an OF might have made sense, with Soler and Almora being a little further away. But a short-term “placeholder” makes more sense than a big-time FA at this point. Or you trade for a younger guy like Domonic Brown who could actually be a part of the future.

        SP is an obvious need and that’s why the Cubs are going after Tanaka. That will dictate any other rotation moves that are made, such as whether to extend Samardzija or trade him for prospects.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          It is sort of a moot point when there are no 3Bmen to sign or even acquire via trade!

          1. Bill

            There is always a 3B available via a trade, the question is whether the price of the trade is too high or not? In the Cubs case there’s no need to give up top prospects for a 3B, when you have several options near ML ready (in the next 2 years), and when the team is likely to be terrible for at least the next couple of years.

        2. Kyle

          “Why sign a 3B when you have Olt, Vitters, and eventually Bryant to audition? ”

          Because Olt sucks, Vitters sucks and can’t play 3b, and Bryant might not be able to play 3b.

          And more importantly, because having too many players at a later date is not a bad thing or something to be avoided. You can always trade the excess.

          1. Bill

            Agree with you but Theo has long ago thrown up the white flag for 2014 and likely 2015. So, he’s content with the team sucking. He’s certainly not bothered by a 3B who sucks for 2014. They are likely going to give Olt a chance at sometime this season, hoping they hit the NBA lottery. If he can’t play there than they’ll probably try Baez and then move Baez to 2B if Bryant can stick at 3B.

            One question I’d like to see someone ask Theo/Jed/Ricketts, if you don’t give a **** about the 2014 major league product, why should the fans? Seriously, why should the fans bother to pay limited entertainment dollars to watch a crappy product that not even the President/GM/Owner care about. I’d be better off going and watching the minor league product where I can pay minor league prices (get great seats and get to talk to the players), instead of watching a minor league product (Chicago Cubs) and paying major league prices.

  6. arta

    they better have the right answers.

    1. JM

      Or else what?

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        More aptly, “which are?”

        1. JM

          You are correct, and much kinder. That’s why you’re the Doc.

        2. hansman

          Considering most of the folks who are demanding the answers I think the “right” answer would go something like this:

          Dear Cubs fans,

          I appreciate your patience and understanding as we go through a rough transition period in the franchise. We are in the midst of pulling this team from the 1950′s in terms of scouting, technology and staffing and building a premier franchise that will someday have the…pssst, AHHH AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I’m sorry, I can’t keep the lies going any longer.

          The cynical guys are right, I have been pocketing all of this money since day one and taking lavish trips around the world. My goal is to tear down the franchise so much we have to move them to Omaha so I can be near my Dearest Daddy and he can tell me what to do all day every day without having to call me like he does now since he is the true and rightful owner.

          I completely lied to Theo and promised him a $175M payroll before I hired him but, in reality, I want nothing more than the Cubs to suck because I will make money hand over fist. The renovations are dragging out because I suck at being a businessman and my wild success at InCaptial is only because of my Dearest Daddy. I should have threatened to be “The Owner” that moved the Cubs out of Wrigley Field and in to the suburbs because that would have been an incredibly smart move to become just like the other 28 teams that play in modern stadiums.

          The lack of moves this offseason have solely been the result of Theo, Jed, Jason and I working on the mascot. Thankfully, we got that wrapped up on Sunday so we could hastily unveil it on Monday after Passan dropped an amazing, jaw dropping, eye opening expose on how terrible I have run this team. Crane Kenney had no involvement in the mascot because he was too busy playing in the toy room.

          Truth is, Casto and Rizzo sucked so bad last year because I told them that I don’t want them to be winners so they went out and just didn’t care. I am a greedy, selfish moron and I am going to give them team to Mark Cuban for free because he would be a totes awesome owner.

          1. mjhurdle

            “I am going to give them team to Mark Cuban for free because he would be a totes awesome owner.”

            and now i have coffee on my keyboard.

            well done sir

  7. Spoda17

    On the spending thing… think of your own budget; if you have extra (and in this case perceived extra) cash in your wallet this month, you don’t go buy something just because you have an extra $20 bucks.

    Also, on Ricketts low-balling the payroll for his own cash gain just does not make sense on so many levels. If all you want to to rape the loyal fans hoping they will stay around and you just collect the cash you do not go and get Theo, or Jed, or Jason. You don’t build new spring training facilities, you don’t [plan to] rebuild the stadium with your own dime and fight “city hall” to do it. You don’t spend a ton of money in international draft picks, you don’t draft Bryant who will cost a lot of money sooner rather than later… It just takes time… not everything is fast food…

    1. JM

      I dig it…

    2. brickhouse

      The spring training facility waas paid for by AZ, you may think the renovation is on his own dime but he wan’t start until he can put in the revenue generating improvements to pay for it, the int’l picks are small dollar amounts and paying for draft picks like Bryant came at a higher cost of throwing away a baseball season to receive that high pick.

      1. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

        The revenue generating improvements would be the Rickett’s money. So yes, it is his own dime, no matter how you try to spin it.

      2. Spoda17

        Not sure I understand your point. My point is simple, why do ANYTHING if your plan is to just rake in the cash. In fact, if you want to just put butts in the seats and take in cash you don’t improve the system, you do what we have done for years, sign some named starts and continue to be an adequate team but not really win anything.

        Ricketts is a proven very successful business man (and family). You don’t invest, oh and actually he specializes in investments, to take a loss. He will make a ton more money winning playoff games than losing games. So even if you believe he is only in it for the money, winning is better than losing.

  8. CubFan Paul

    Again, there was nothing unlucky about EJax’s performance last year.

    It was command issues and maybe throw in the poor offense.

    With a better Spring (EJax threw a lot of changeups, compared to the other starters throwing fastballs) and Bosio, EJax should pitch with more conviction this year (no joke.. (he struggled with locating 1st pitch fastballs low&away from RHbatters (& then it would snowball from there))).

    1. FullCountTommy

      Edwin Jackson did have command issues, but he has always had command issues.

      Look at it this way, his LOB% was 7% lower than his career average, his Opponent’s BABIP was 14 points higher than his career average, and his FIP and xFIP were a full run lower than his ERA.

      All of this while his walk rate was right on par with his career average and his HR/9 was down from his career average.

      These statistics scream bad luck

      1. CubFan Paul

        “These statistics scream bad luck”

        Only to the person who didn’t watch his 31 starts. So i agree, kind of…

        1. Baseball_Writes

          This is true. I watched most of them, and that’s why I have to go back and look at the stats, because watching him pitch was just terrible. Stats are not everything, though. I think it is important to take everything into account. That’s why I think the luck thing (while it makes sense) has been somewhat overstated.

          1. Kyle

            I watched most of those starts too and I know *exactly* how you feel.

            But I also know enough about human cognitive biases to trust the stats and not my observational feelings.

            1. Chad

              Damn math always getting in the way of personal bias.

        2. FullCountTommy

          I watched quite a few of his starts, and not only when he was with the Cubs. Jackson has always struggled with his command. He has always had a high walk rate and high strikeout rate, due to his devastating slider. This is why he needs to get ahead of more hitters like you said.

          But to completely disregard the stats I posted and assume I didn’t watch the games is ignorant. His GB rate was up, which is a positive thing, but partnered with the high BABIP suggests that maybe just a few more balls found holes. Since his HR rate was down, it wasn’t a result of “walk-walk-home run.” It was teams stringing together singles and doubles mostly, which is very hard to sustain over a prolonged period of time.

          1. CubFan Paul

            “This is why he needs to get ahead of more hitters like you said”

            You’re taking my analysis out of context. That’s not what I said.

            “to completely disregard the stats I posted”

            I didn’t, I can read fangraphs too.

            “and assume I didn’t watch the games is ignorant”

            31 starts. His 2013 starts was the topic.

            1. FullCountTommy

              You can read Fangraphs, but either didn’t, or have no idea how to interpret the stats. Jackson didn’t pitch well in 2013, but luck had a hand in his bad season, plain and simple

              1. CubFan Paul

                ” Jackson didn’t pitch well in 2013″

                Yea, we all know that…

                “but luck had a hand in his bad season, plain and simple”

                False, but if that what quick stat analysis tells you, run with it, it’s easier. That’s the new trend (summing up stats to “luck”)

                1. FullCountTommy

                  That’s what the analysis would tell anyone who is versed in these sorts of things. Let’s change the wording, Edwin Jackson didn’t have bad luck this year, he had a statistical outlier season, and will almost assuredly regress back to the mean next season, better for you??

                  1. CubFan Paul

                    “That’s what the analysis would tell anyone who…”

                    I don’t think your understanding what i’m saying or tried to point out in the beginning

                    1. FullCountTommy

                      “Again, there was nothing unlucky about EJax’s performance last year.”

                      I am saying yes, there was, and gave you statistics to prove it. Read what Kyle wrote above, he has a great point

                    2. CubFan Paul

                      ““Again, there was nothing unlucky about EJax’s performance last year (except for the small amount of luck that’s involved in everything).”

                      Should of said that. But, again, EJax’s struggles and record were directly tied to grip/command issues (especially early in games), not “bad luck”.

                      And I don’t know what feelings Kyle is talking about. I’m going off video & stat analysis.

                    3. FullCountTommy

                      No, you’re going strictly off your personal analysis of watching the games, no stats involved. What makes you more qualified than professionals in analyzing the video? What makes you say there were grip issues? I’m well versed in pitching mechanics, so be as detailed as you’d like

                    4. CubFan Paul

                      “No, you’re going strictly off your personal analysis of watching the games, no stats involved.”

                      Ummm, no i’m not. I’ve had an EJax/fangraphs page open since I read Brett’s bullet.

                      “What makes you more qualified than professionals in analyzing the video?”

                      You’re not a ‘professional’, nor am I trying to disprove someone who would clearly have more detailed information (scout, exec, coach)

                      “What makes you say there were grip issues?”

                      Video analysis. Post game interviews.

                    5. FullCountTommy

                      If you’ve had the Fangraphs page up, then you simply don’t understand how to interpret advanced statistics, I don’t even know what you’re trying to argue anymore.

                      I’m not a professional, but I pitched in college and coached briefly so I do know quite a bit about pitching mechanics and analyzing video.

                      I also find it very hard to believe that you watched enough video of Jackson throughout his career through this year to know when he’s having grip problems. Unless you are watching Cubs games in slow-mo and zooming in on Jackson’s hand, it is extremely difficult to analyze grip issues from a television broadcast

                    6. CubFan Paul

                      Me choosing not to sum up a player’s year to bad luck does Not mean that I don’t “how to interpret advanced statistics”

                      “that you watched enough video of Jackson”

                      31 starts. I didn’t miss one.

                      “watched enough video of Jackson throughout his career”

                      I haven’t, just as I stated above: just 2013

                      “know when he’s having grip problems”

                      It was repetitive and easy to pick up on, especially on first pitches.

                    7. FullCountTommy

                      The purpose of those statistics is to help show how much a player’s stats are affected by things that he can’t control, which luck is a heavy factor in.

                      Jackson’s past starts in recent years are important in analyzing possible grip or mechanical problems. Maybe he picked up bad habit in the off-season and pitched with it for all of 2013. How would you know this is a bad habit, without watching Jackson in recent years? Again, like I said, I know a lot about pitching mechanics and would LOVE for you to explain to me what you see, other than just saying grip problems. Is he underneath the ball when he throws? Too much pressure on a certain finger at release? Please explain to me what you see

                    8. CubFan Paul

                      “How would you know this is a bad habit, without watching Jackson in recent years?”

                      Like I said above video analysis and post game interviews. And the 1st pitch issue that he struggled with, that i’ve been mentioning has NOTHING to do with bad luck. He simply couldn’t locate low&away consistently to RHbatters

                    9. FullCountTommy

                      You continue to regurgitate the same things you’ve said over and over, and are ignoring my new questions, so have a good day, we’re done here

                    10. CubFan Paul

                      “over and over, and are ignoring my new questions”

                      Because you’re just trying to turn what I type into anti sabr dinosaur talk.

                      There are stats and video that prove EVERYTHING i’ve stated about EJAX, but like I said above, when you don’t have all the info, it’s easier to sum up his stats as a bad luck season (especially when the babip is a tad higher than usual).

                      So yeah, Have a Nice Day.

                    11. FullCountTommy

                      No, I want you to explain to me what you see, as I have heard nothing about grip problems.

                      BABIP by itself is not necessarily a sign of bad luck. But when you partner it with an abnormally low LOB%, unchanged walk rate, decreased home run rate, and much higher GB rate, it points toward more balls finding holes than in previous seasons

                    12. Jason P

                      You still aren’t responding to the substance of his argument.

                      Here’s the reasons you’ve given so far why Jackson was simply bad and not unlucky:

                      -The eye test
                      -post game interviews
                      -grip issues

                      Post game interviews should not be a means of player analysis. There is absolutely no analytical value whatsoever in them. Having an outgoing personality with reporters does not correlate with success.

                      The eye test has proven unreliable by years of sabermetric research. Have you ever seen Moneyball? The A’s achieved much of their early 2000′s success by disregarding the eye test.

                      If you can actually detail grip issues EJax had, I’m open to listening, but seeing that you cannot, I suspect you’ll come back with more “I know because I watch the games” nonsense.

                    13. CubFan Paul

                      “You still aren’t responding to the substance of his argument”

                      I could care less. I didn’t start my day trying to appease ‘fullcounttommy’. There’s substance to my argument too, but he could care less.

                      “If you can actually detail grip issues EJax had, I’m open to listening”

                      Go to CSN.com or wherever they archive the post game press conference (the table interview after the games with Manager & the pitcher, not locker room locker interviews where ‘outgoing personality with reporters’ might come into play).

                    14. JB88

                      PET PEEVE – The phrase is “I couldn’t care less”, not “I could care less”. You are trying to convey something that you aren’t actually conveying.

                      *Steps off his grammatical soap box*

                    15. FullCountTommy

                      I don’t want you to appease me as you so put it, but I’m always up for learning something when it comes to baseball. You have not given me any substance whatsoever, just stated what Jason pointed out. The substance to your argument is, “I saw grip problems” and “Stats don’t tell you about luck.” If you could articulate the things that you saw, or point me in the direction of anyone who said those stats don’t tell you anything about luck, I’d be happy to consider them, but you don’t provide any substance at all to your argument

        3. Drew7

          Here we go again…

      2. Baseball_Writes

        Man … now I look like a tool who just repeated what you said. Must have just taken me longer to type.

        1. FullCountTommy

          Great minds…

    2. Baseball_Writes

      I think there’s a little bit of traction to the luck idea. His .322 BABIP was higher than his career average (..308) and his LOB% of 63.3% is much higher than career average (70.5%). These point to issues that are somewhat beyond his control (balls finding holes and sequencing). Though, I think improving on a few of the issues you pointed out (locating his fastball) will help.

      Now, his GB% was up, which is a good thing, and his HR/FB ratio is right in line with his career average.

      So, I do think luck had something to do with it, but I think it is probably being overstated by some people.

  9. chifords2000

    Any questions regarding the rehab and spending money on the roster should be directed with both Ricketts and Epstein in the room. Theo has already tied player procurement to funding via park upgrades and TV deals, and to have one provide an answer without the other present would serve no purpose.

  10. Edwin

    Mmmmmm. Grilling.

    1. hansman

      The question I want answered

      Charcoal or Gas?

      1. CubFan Paul

        Ribeye or T-Bone?

      2. Edwin

        Depends what you’re grilling. There are pro’s and con’s to both.

  11. On The Farm

    “I am … not tall (but, hey, 5’8″ at my last physical!).”

    Is this with the shoes on or off? ;)

  12. NorthSideIrish

    Another day, another Top Prospect List. MLB Draft Insider’s Chris Crawford put out his list which has some surprises…Soler over Almora, Kris Bryant as a 1B, and Eloy Jiminez and Scott Frazier made the end of the list. He has gotten some different scouting reports than some of the other lists and maybe isn’t as sky high on some of the Cubs prospects as other writers.

    http://mlbdraftinsider.com/2014/01/top-14-in-14-chicago-cubs/

    BTW, Crawford’s Draftbook is well worth the $1.99 if you want to be more knowledgeable come June draft time.

  13. Edwin

    My questions:

    Why has the renovation taken so long, and when will it be complete?

    When can we expect to have a winning team?

    How do the Cubs justify charging one of the highest prices while currently spending one of the lowest amounts per player in MLB?

    Why should I watch the 2014 Cubs?

    1. On The Farm

      My guess of the responses:

      Because the rooftops.

      The goal is to win a World Series in 2014

      Because people will still pay that price to come watch them.

      Because you’re a Cubs fan?

      1. Edwin

        Being a Cubs fan is a good reason to follow the Cubs, but for actually paying more than casual attention in 2014? Not so much. The 2014 MLB is going to be very boring, and I see little reason to watch it closely.

        1. noisesquared

          Personally, I’ve got plenty of reasons to watch the Cubs in ’14. The big ones:

          - looking for rebounds and/or steps forward from Castro, Samardzija, and Rizzo
          - to see if Olt can get his career back on track
          - the likely debuts of Baez, Bryant, and Alcantara

          To be honest, I’ll be glued to the TV all summer if the kids are playing, W/L will not matter. This year is the first that the ‘plan’ can start to yield some fruit at the ML level, and I’m looking forward to it.

  14. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    I hope they are asked some tough questions but I also know they are going to be fully ready with answers to the obvious ones stated on here. It’s not like they are going to be put on the spot. They have ready answers for the questions and I don’t expect anything of substance.

  15. The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    This might be a pipe dream but I hope we hear some good news regarding the roofies and the renovation. If something has been reached recently Cubs Con would be a good arena to release it.

  16. TTH

    Judging from the questions/answers asked at the Season ticket holder get together I was at, most questions are likely to be fluff. That being said, the session I was at Kenney and Hoyer (Theo blew it off) seemed very prepared for almost any question asked. To the point that some answered might have been rehearsed.
    As far as the toughness, one dude actually asked something about a parade route. Seriously. And the one question they weren’t prepared for was some lady going on for a couple minutes before stating she was worried that the proposed renovations weren’t green enough. At which point everybody in the theater rightfully groaned . But Crane spun something pretty quick and Deshaies made a joke about seagulls and they quickly moved on to the next person. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Crane, but he did a pretty good job. I’m guessing he’ll represent the non-baseball side of things at the convention more than any of the Ricketts will.

  17. Cub Fan Dan

    1:30-2:30 p.m., Cubs Business Operations Update …. Fans will receive updates on the efforts to restore and improve Wrigley Field, the future of Cubs television and radio partnerships and new business opportunities.

    This is the one I’m looking forward to. If they don’t have anything significant (ala, last year when they rolled out the restoration plan & that they were paying for it themselves), it will be an upset. Im expecting an announcement of the start of the restoration immediately following the last game of the season. If not, that certainly would be my question.

    Brett, if I make it out to Lizzie’s I certainly owe you a drink! It’s the least I can do.

  18. Jon

    I hope they get grilled on the renovation status….nothing has happened since Rham has told them to start digging and they are still apparently being hustled by the rooftop owners.

  19. Diehardthefirst

    Will someone ask the Cubs why they voted for instant replay expansion when the game is too long already? Or is to sell more beer commercial time while umpires conduct a séance?

    1. mjhurdle

      sometimes, when you wants something done, you just gotta do it yourself…

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