It’s day three of the Cubs Convention today, and I’ll later have a rundown of everything notable from this weekend’s event. That is to say, I’ll get much more into Convention-related stuff later, so if you don’t see it in these Bullets, that’s why …
- One Convention-revealed item that I will touch on here right now, however, is about the upcoming new Cubs TV deal. Team Business President Crane Kenney reiterated his belief that, after 2019, when the Cubs’ current deals expire, they’ll start their own network (presumably with a cable network or service provider as a partner). In later comments with the media (ESPN, Tribune), Kenney added that, in order to make that launch work, the team would need to start creating the network two years in advance of the actual kick-off for the 2020 season – which means that, if all goes according to plan, the Cubs will start building their network no later than 2018. And if that’s going to happen, my guess is that they’ll want to have the contract finalized before the work starts. So, then, we might hear about “the big TV deal” relatively soon, even though it won’t kick in for another three to four years.
- That, of course, is the really tricky part with getting this thing right in an era where cable carriage and viewership habits seem to change dramatically every year. How is a network partner supposed to lock itself into a 15 to 30 deal for sports broadcast rights today when we have no idea what the landscape will look like in three years, let alone decades later? And how are the Cubs supposed to lock themselves into a TV rights deal when they don’t know what’s going to happen to their streaming rights, and those might be the most valuable rights in just a few years? Things are changing constantly in that area, too. This all remains something to watch very closely, as the next TV deal will, in theory, fundamentally change the Cubs’ financial situation.
- The Dodgers’ ZiPS projections are out, and I’d say they pretty fairly support my previous contentions that, to me, on paper, the Dodgers right now look like the second best team in the National League. Consider this: the Cubs’ five-man rotation is projected for 18 WAR, which is an enormous amount. Clayton Kershaw, on his own, is projected for eight(!), and the Dodgers are at 17 or 18 WAR in the rotation, depending on which fifth starter is inserted. And, for all the criticism some level at their positional side, there is just one starting position – second base – where the Dodgers are projected for less than three(!) WAR. I’m not saying this means the Dodgers will be great, and I’m not saying it means they’ll definitely win the NL West. I’m only saying that, as things stand, they’re really good, even after their uneven offseason and the splashes by the Diamondbacks and Giants.
- The Cardinals say they’re not concerned about Yadier Molina’s readiness (thumb) for Opening Day, but he won’t get his cast off until mid-February, and then it’s a matter of him getting back his strength. In the meantime, the Cardinals are looking for a quality back-up, back-up catcher to go behind Brayan Pena (MLB.com).
- I got ready to pack for my trip to Chicago for the Convention when I realized that I no longer have a small travel bag – one of our cats saw to that. So I had to borrow one of The Wife’s bags at the last minute … which is fine. But I need a new one. I’m looking at a duffel like this, because I could use it for multiple things. But I might end up going with a more traditional travel suitcase.