February 28, 2014


Rick Renteria's tenure as a Cub skipper came out pretty much as expected here. His Cubs lost in front of a record spring training crowd.

Some of the interesting twists from day one:

He used Emilio Bonifacio as lead off hitter, then batted Luis Valbuena second then Starlin Castro in the third position. Rizzo batted clean up, followed by Lake in CF. It would seem that Renteria was trying to protect each hitter at the top of the line up, by going righty lefty, etc. Schierholtz did not play RF (McDonald did). So this is not the opening day line up, per se.

Despite Bonifacio leading off, Renteria told the press that Darwin Barney was his starting second baseman. That is a mistake. Barney, coming off a bad year, should not be given his starting job. He should earn it. In fact, every position should be an open competition.

Renteria believes he can use Bonifacio's versatility at multiple positions to keep him in the line up, which foreshadows possible triple platoons at some postions.

The new Cubs bullpen was suspect. Wesley Wright and Jose Veras were not very good. And Arodys Vizcaino struggled in an intrasquad game, which led Renteria to state that the Cubs are going to go real slow with Vizcaino. However, this is year three of rehab for Vizcaino, which is time to prove a place or cut bait. Kyuji Fujikawa threw a second bullpen session, but it still seems he will not be ready until June.

Starter Jeff Samardzija was over amped at the start, walking the first batter on four pitches. But he settled down and threw two innings. It appears that Samardzija himself must think he is showcasing his talent this spring.


Prospect lists are merely speculative exercises to project talent two, three, four or five years down the road. They may cause instant happiness to a fan base, but all such lists should be taken with a grain of salt.

Baseball America announced their annual Top 100 baseball list. Seven Cubs made the 2014 Top 100:

#5-- SS Javier Baez
#8-- 3B Kris Bryant
#28-- RHP C.J. Edwards
#36-- OF Albert Almora
#41-- OF Jorge Soler
#87-- RHP Pierce Johnson
#100-- 2B Arismendy Alcantara

Last year, the Cubs had only four players on the list: Baez, Almora, Soler, and Arodys Vizcaino.

In 2012, the Cubs had Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Baez and Matt Szczur on the list.

In 2011, the Cubs had only Brett Jackson and pitcher Trey McNutt on the list.

As a further cautionary tale, the last time the Cubs had seven players on the Top 100 list was 2002:

#2 -- P Mark Prior
#6 -- P Juan Cruz
#40 -- 1B Hee Seop Choi
#45 -- 3B David Kelton
#48 -- 2B Bobby Hill
#68 -- OF Nic Jackson
#80 -- P Carlos Zambrano

Only two of those prospects on the 2002 list had any long major league careers: Zambrano, as a starter, and Cruz, who was merely a bullpen arm. Choi and Hill were used as chips to acquire Aramis Ramirez and Derek Lee, but as prospects Choi and Hill were busts.

Under current management, there have been 12 Cub prospects listed in the Top 100 lists, but only 1 (Rizzo) has made it to the majors in the last three years. And of those 12 prospects, 4 have dropped off the list without making any contribution to the Cubs major league roster (that is 1/3 of the total). And if 2002 is a guide, only 2 players on the current list will probably make it to the majors with some success. Only two of the prospects listed were drafted by the current front office (Bryant, Johnson). The rest were in the system or acquired by trade, which shows that after concentrating on drafting pitching the last two seasons, only one has made the good prospect radar.

February 27, 2014


The Cubs have asked Anthony Rizzo take a leadership role when the young prospects hit camp and make it to the major league roster. Rizzo is inclined to help his team out. He understands that the front office has made him one of their "core" players for the future. But being told to be a leader, and actually being one, are two different things.

Leadership and clubhouse chemistry are hard concepts to quantify in major league sports. There have been some teams where players hated each other, like the Bill Martin Yankees, but still won. There were some teams where the players hated management or ownership, like the Finley Oakland A's or the Black Sox, but still won. A little team edge can be helpful at times.

On the other side, bad chemistry can be a disaster. A prime example is the 2004 Cubs, who imploded in September in a vile rants against even their own broadcasters.  Losing has a cascade effect on some players - - - who lose focus, then seek to blame others for their poor performance.

There are two types of sports leaders. First, is the rah-rah, talkative, inspirational leader. This is the kind of guy who does not have to be the best player on the team, but he is the one with the most passion to win. They speak their mind, call out their teammates, help younger players and calm clubhouse incidents before they get out of control. Organizations cannot teach that type of assertive personality. You have to be born with it. A.J. Pierzynski is a recent example of an on-field, take charge player who led by example and who was not afraid to speak his mind.

Second, is the leader by example. Other players will listen or follow a successful player because those players want to be as successful. The mindset is that if that player is so good, I need to learn what he is doing so I can be as good. This is especially true for young prospects who need some guidance from a successful veteran that has dealt with the stress, slumps, disappointments and successes early in one's career. Greg Maddux was a quiet leader who knew his stuff and shared his knowledge with young pitchers.

From all accounts, Rizzo is a nice guy. But he is not an outspoken agenda setter. And his performance on the field has been not up to expectations. Losing season after losing season will slowly permeate his leadership Q like smokey bacon wrapped around a grilling hot dog. Players want to win, but at a certain point in time, they can learn to accept losing because there are little to no adverse consequences to their individual careers.

The problem is that no matter who is left when the Almoras, Brandts, Edwards arrive at Wrigley, it is possible that the Cub veterans may have played their entire careers on losing, noncompetitive baseball teams.

February 26, 2014


The Chicago White Sox had a disappointing 2013 campaign. But the team has re-tooled their line up for 2014, but how does it stack up against the AL Central. ESPN has an early spring training preview of the lineups:


Pros: still has best hitter in game (Cabrera); added Kinsler to bolster 2B
Cons: new manager (Ausmus); Fielder traded to Rangers.

Projected lineup 
Austin Jackson, CF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Miguel Cabrera, 1B 

Victor Martinez, DH
Torii Hunter, RF
Andy Dirks, LF
Nick Castellanos, 3B 

Alex Avila, C
Jose Igesias, SS 

The question remains whether the Tigers can overcome the loss of Fielder's production by
good years from Castellanos at third and Kinsler at second. The team has aging veterans in Martinez and Hunter in the middle of the order. Dirks appears to be a platoon candidate in left.

This lineup does not appear to be as strong as last season.


Pros: Santana poised for a break out season; 
Cons: questions about outfield production

Projected lineup 
Michael Bourn, CF
Nick Swisher, 1B
Jason Kipnis, 2B
Carlos Santana, DH 

Michael Brantley, LF
Yan Gomes, C
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
David Murphy, RF
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B

The top of the order appears to be fine. The bottom is of a concern. If Chisenhall does not make a big contribution, Santana could move to third and open a spot for Ryan Raburn.

Consistent run production is going to be the issue with this lineup.

Kansas City

Pros: speed at the top of the lineup;
Cons: lack of distributed power in the lineup.

Projected lineup
Norichika Aoki, RF
Alex Gordon, LF 

Eric Hosmer, 1B
Billy Butler, DH
Salvador Perez, C
Omar Infante, 2B 

Mike Moustakas, 3B
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Alcides Escobar, SS 

There is plenty of speed on the team to manufacture runs, if batters can get on base. This is another team of relative unknowns playing in a small market town who have to overperform in order to get noticed.


Pros: The minors have upcoming talent in Miguel Sano and Bryon Buxton.
Cons: Aging Mauer now at first, no lead off hitter.

Projected lineup
Alex Presley, CF 

Brian Dozier, 2B 
Joe Mauer, 1B
Josh Willingham, LF
 Oswaldo Arcia, RF
 Jason Kubel, DH
 Josmil Pinto, C
 Trevor Plouffe, 3B
 Pedro Florimon, SS

Mauer is still the team's best hitter, but there is no protection behind him. Kubel is a non-roster invitee so that shows the lack of major league depth since he will probably start as the team's DH. If Pinto does not pan, the team signed veteran Kurt Suzuki as back up. The Twins are a team in hard transition. It appears the Twins will fall to the bottom of the division.


Pros: Added potential impact players in Eaton, Abreu and Garcia since last opening day;
Cons: the infield is in flux

Projected lineup
Adam Eaton, CF 

Alejandro De Aza, LF
Jose Abreu, 1B 

Adam Dunn, DH
Avisail Garcia, RF
Alexi Ramirez, SS
Gordon Beckham, 2B
 Matt Davidson, 3B
 Josh Phegley, C

Eaton was acquired to lead off, and play a quality defensive CF. De Aza was the best outfielder on the team last season, but he will probably platoon in left with Dayan Viciedo, who has been disappointing on offense. Ramirez and Beckham regressed last season, and third base is still an open wound. Rookie Matt Davidson could win the job, but it is probable that Conor Gillaspie will continue to place hold the position. Dunn will platoon with Paul Konerko at DH which could improve the production at that slot.

None of the lineups go more than five deep in good hitters. None of the lineups blows away the competition.  There is so much uncertainty with these teams going through transition, it could be a wild open race decided by the quality of pitching staffs.

February 25, 2014


1. Do the Cubs have a lead-off hitter in camp?

No. Suggestions that Castro will be slotted #1 in the line up brings back the free swinging Alfonso Soriano days. Bonifacio, who has a minor league deal but will probably make the 25 man roster, can steal bases but has a low BA and OBP.

2. Where should Castro bat in the line up?

He was most comfortable batting second in the order. But the real issue is putting Castro in one spot in the line up and keeping him there. He seems to have trouble adjusting to different line up slots from game to game, week to week.

3. Who is the best hitter on the team?

By default, it was Schierholtz but he only batted .251 last year.

4. Can Rizzo have a bounce back season?

Possibly, but pitchers and pitching coaches around the league figure out young batters very quickly. It takes a good hitting coach to help players make the necessary adjustments. The Cubs new hitting coach, Bill Mueller, will have pressure on him to turn around Rizzo and Castro.

5. If the front office's approach has been high OBP guys, why is the roster devoid of such players?

Because other teams also value the sabermetric of high OBP as a means of steady run production. There are less of those quality contact and walk hitters on the free agent market.

6. Which current Cubs will not be with the club on August 1st?

It is clear that the Cubs and Samardzija are growing farther and farther a part. It would not be surprising that the Shark would be traded in July. It would not be that surprising that other veterans who may have value to a contender, such as Schierholtz, Sweeney or Valbuena could be moved as well. In reality, any player making more than $3 million is probably on the market.

7. Who is the Cubs third baseman?

Ramirez was the answer to the question "who replaced Ron Santo at third."  The Cubs have had a circus of caretakers at the position since Ramirez left for free agency (which was fine because he has had injuries and down years since). Currently, Valbuena and Murphy appear to be a platoon at the position. The front office has traded for the top 2 Rangers third base prospects, Villanueva and Olt, but both players have not performed well in the Cubs system.

8. Can Kris Bryant leap to start at third for the Cubs in 2014?

An independent observer could say yes, anything is possible. But the real answer is absolutely not, since the front office has stubborn promotion rules (such as 500 AAA at bats). Besides, the Cubs are not ready to win so bringing up Bryant early would not help in his development.

9. If the Cubs are not ready to win, how does that affect "core" players already on the roster?

It hurts them. As former manager state after leaving the team, the losing culture is a drain on the team. Instead of driving to win, players and coaches fall into the trap of accepting losing as a way of Cub life. Three bad seasons in a row can have a negative effect on players like Wood, Rizzo and Castro who are supposed to be the leadership core for the future. It also plants the seed in their minds to leave the losing organization as soon as possible.

10. If Bonifacio makes the 25 man roster, whose spot will he take?

I imagine the Cubs will put someone on the disabled list to open up a spot. But the players who are in jeopardy of losing their 40 man roster status include Brett Jackson, Szczur, Vitters and Watkins.

11. Is Ian Stewart the biggest bust of the Epstein era?

Stewart did not perform at all with the Cubs, but considering his Rockies injury history and demotion, it was not that surprising conclusion. On the current roster, former Brave starter Vizcaino, who has missed the last two full seasons due to injury rehab, needs to pitch well or he would be considered a larger bust since pitching is a premium need for the Cubs.

12. Why did Scott Baker sign a minor league deal instead of coming back to the Cubs?

See Answer 9 above. It is true Baker used the Cubs as a paid rehab year, but players have no loyalty to their past teams. Baker felt that his career would be better served with an up and coming club like the Mariners than being mired at the bottom of the standings with the Cubs.

13. Can the Cubs survive three straight horrible losing seasons?

Yes and no. The team will muddle forward because of its NL charter, but financially it will be hard to see the team changing its direction soon if fan attendance continues to dramatically fall and the local TV deals will not happen until 2020. In addition, the perception of free agents that the Cubs are the new Astros or Royals will keep talent away from the North Side.

14. Is Edwin Jackson tradeable?

It was a bad contract (4 years/$52 million) but it seems that the current free agent market for pitchers has fallen to that level (as seen recently with the Brewers contract with Matt Garza). Jackson would need to become his 2011 self (12-9 record, 3.79 ERA in 31 starts) in order to draw interest.

15. Will Rick Renteria have more success than Sveum or Quade?

No. The front office has not given him any more talent than his predecessors. Renteria's extroverted personality and bi-lingual skills may help him communicate better with his young players, but it may be difficult to re-train them to get out of bad habits and losing mentality.

16. Is there any untradeable player on the current roster?


17. What happens if the touted prospects such as Baez, Bryant, Almora, P. Johnson, Hendricks, Edwards, and Soler get injured or don't pan out at the minor or major league level?

Disaster, in the scope of the Hindenburg. The whole Epstein-Hoyer plan is the fill the major league roster with six or seven home grown "impact" players, and then have a pipeline of replacement AAA talent year after year. But if the first crop fails, just like in real life, the farm turns to dust and the farmers are out of their jobs.

18. When ownership and management said the new Mesa spring training facility is going to insure the Cubs championship caliber talent in the future, is that true?

No. The only thing the new Mesa facility has done for the Cubs is that the team/owners did not have to pay $100 million to build such a facility. Despite what teams say, state of the art facilities do not equate to winning teams or exceptional boosts in player talent levels. Most players turning pro have already been trained in high school or college; professional development is to polish those existing skill sets to give the player the best opportunity to succeed. All pitchers need is a mound and coach to observe and suggest changes in mechanics or baseball approach. The same is true with hitters; a batting cage, a live pitcher, and a field to practice defense is all that is required for coaches to develop position players. Foreign players who played stick ball in the streets, or played in Cuba at lesser facilities, can come to the majors and succeed right away. It is more important to scout and sign players with inherit ability than build facilities.

19. Speaking of facilities, will the Cubs ever move from Wrigley?

Economically, there is only so much revenue ownership can squeeze out of the Clark and Addison location. Many developers believe that if the Cubs are going to spend $500 million to "rehab" Wrigley Field and surrounding properties, that money could be better spent building a state of the art multipurpose facility in the suburbs. So if the neighborhood continues to object to plans, and there is litigation over the Cubs new revenue plans, it is possible the team could move out of Wrigley but at this time it is very remote.

20. When will the Cubs be in the playoffs?

Based upon the current roster, the stated rebuilding plan, the team finances and the other teams in the NL Central, the Cubs best chance to be in the playoffs is 2021. The Cubs current exclusive cable deal expires after the 2019 season. This means the Cubs cannot create their own network until 2020. Under the new paradigm, these new team networks are the significant resource for teams (creating billion dollar deals for teams like the Dodgers and Phillies). But even if the Cubs can create their own local broadcast network at that time, the whole cable environment and cost structure could be dramatically changed negatively towards content providers such as the Cubs. If the Cubs can reap new broadcast windfall in 2020, it would take at least a year to "spend big" like the Dodgers to field a championship caliber team.

February 24, 2014


Theo Epstein is moving into his third year as Cubs chief operating officer. In his first two seasons at the helm, the Cubs record has been 61-101 and 66-96, the worst two year stretch in franchise history. Epstein inherited a 71-91 2011 team.

Many fans remember the end of the Jim Hendry era, but what was his early years like? Surprisingly better than memory serves.

In mid-July of 2002, Andy MacPhail decided to give up his role as General Manager and promoted Hendry, his protege, in his place.

In 2002, Hendry oversaw the final months of a struggling team that would finish 67-95. One of his first decisions as GM was to allow Bruce Kimm, an interim manager with the club to finish the season. Kimm was roundly criticized for granting Fred McGriff significant amounts of playing time so that the aging first baseman could achieve the 30 homerun mark for his fifth team. The Crime Dog was seen as taking valuable at-bats away from Cubs rookie Hee Seop Choi.

Following the 2002 season, Hendry began his rebuilding of the team. He hired Dusty Baker as the new manager after Baker's run to the World Series with the San Francisco Giants. He traded unpopular catcher Todd Hundley to the Los Angeles Dodgers in return for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek. The trade was seen as a salary swap at the time, but Karros and Grudzielanek played a major role in the success of the 2003 team.

In mid-season 2003, Hendry would make another big trade. Hendry traded infielders Bobby Hill and Jose Hernandez to the Pirates for  third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He also brought in Kenny Lofton and Randall Simon to shore up the bench.

On the last weekend of the season, the Cubs clinched the 2003 NL Central Division title, their first division title in 14 years. And, as the Cubs entered game 5 of the NLCS with a 3-1 series lead over the Florida Marlins, it appeared that the Cubs were on the verge of their first World Series appearance in 58 years. However, the Cubs dropped three straight and were eliminated from the post-season.

Entering the 2004 season, most pundits believed the Cubs had the best roster in the National League, and many fans believed Hendry was one of the premiere general managers in baseball. However,  Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Grudzielanek, Kent Mercker, Tom Goodwin, and Todd Wellemeyer were all on the disabled list at the same time.

Despite their early season struggles, many Cubs fans still felt that a healthy squad would charge back in August and September to take control of the central division race. And, on July 31, 2004 Jim Hendry stepped up to the plate with another monstrous deal. Hendry sent away Alex Gonzalez, Brendan Harris, and Francis Beltran to various teams in exchange for Nomar Garciaparra, Matt Murton, and cash.  Even with this infusion of new talent, the Cubs self destructed at the end of the season in a bizarre fashion.  Broadcast personalities Steve Stone and Chip Caray had public spats with players including Kent Mercker and Moises Alou. The hostility included a phone call from Mercker (in the bullpen) to Stone and Caray while they were on the air, and reported threats against the broadcaster's on the Cubs plane. On the field, the team finished poorly, losing key games down the stretch and finishing 89-73 in third place in the NL Central.

After the disappointing end of the 2004 season, Hendry addressed his roster again. He traded disappointing prospect Hee Seop Choi to the Marlins in exchange for Derrek Lee, and later sent catcher Damian Miller to the Oakland Athletics for Michael Barrett. On the free agent market, Hendry signed veterans Todd Walker and Greg Maddux.

As a result, the first priority of the 2004–2005 offseason was unloading Sosa to the Orioles for getting utility player Jerry Hairston Jr. and 2B Mike Fontenot  and pitcher David Crouthers. Hendry then signed veteran Jeromy Burnitz to replace Sosa in right field. He signed middle reliever Chad Fox and traded Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers for Roberto Novoa and minor-leaguers Scott Moore and Bo Flowers.

Jim Henry's Cubs Record in the first three years of his GM tenure:

2002: 67-95 (half season)
2003: 88-74
2004: 89-73
2005: 79-83

One conclusion can be made from Hendry's first three years as GM was that he acquired good major league talent in his trades, including key long term starters like Ramirez, Lee, Barrett and Walker.

Hendry's focus was acquiring veteran players and major league ready prospects to field a competitive major league team year in and year out. Epstein has taken the opposite approach: acquiring low level prospects with large potential upside in exchange for veteran major league talent. At the major league level, the results between the two general managers is black and white.

February 22, 2014


The last year of the Tribune ownership of the Cubs, team payroll was $203.7 million. Except for Ricketts first year of ownership, payroll has dramatically decreased.

Year  Owner    Hitters          Pitchers            Total             Change

2009 Tribune   $139.65M    $64.06M         $203.7M
2010 Ricketts  $145.8M      $69.34M          $215.1M       +5.5 %
2011 Ricketts  $125.04M    $53.8M            $178.8M        -16.9%
2012 Ricketts  $ 79.9M      $44.5M            $124.5M        -30.4%   (first year Epstein)
2013 Ricketts  $ 56.3M       $42.8M            $  99.2M       -20.3%
2014 Ricketts             projected                   $  86.8M       -12.5%
2015 Ricketts             projected                   $  56.3M       -35.1%

The real Cubs payroll for 2014 is much lower, as it contains $14.5 million in dead money (obligations to past players no longer on the team). That puts the real player budget for 2014 at $72.3 million.

From Ricketts first year of ownership, payroll has declined dramatically. And it will continue to do so.

In 2015, $16 million of current player salaries is off the books, plus the dead money obligations or a total of $30.5 million. The base payroll for the 2015 Cubs would be only $56.3 million, another 35.1 percent decrease year over year.  Since Ricketts ownership, team payroll is $158.8 million less than in 2010 or a projected decrease of 73.8 percent by 2015.

There has been a steady decline in budget allocated toward pitching (a real need area), but there has been an accelerated free fall in money for hitters.

When Ricketts and his business minions state publicly that the team has money to spend on talent, it clearly does not show up on the major league roster.

Ricketts has lashed out at questions about taking profits from the team, but he has no specifics on where the payroll savings has gone. Considering that the broadcast revenues have been steady (and nationally increased), ticket prices maintained at near the top of the league (but attendance being down), payroll savings since Ricketts took over ownership may be the real method of funding his outside real estate projects.

Payroll reduction from Ricketts 1st year:

2011: $36.3M
2012: $54.3M
2013  $25.3M
2014: $12.4 M (projected)
2015: $30.5 M (projected)

Total: $158.8M

Payroll savings from Ricketts 1st year baseline:

2011: $36.3M
2012: $90.6M
2013  $115.9M
2014: $128.3 M (projected)
2015: $158.8 M (projected)

Total: $529.9M

Steve Stone predicts that the Cubs prospect team will come to fruition in 2016. As such, rookie ball players will again command lower salaries than veteran free agents.

The team's statement that it can save the Tanaka signing money (noted only to be $20 million posting fee) and spend it later is an unfulfilled promise. If money is not spent, that means it is not an expense. Lower expenses increases the profit line on the balance sheet. There is no rule that says Ricketts must "return" the payroll savings to the baseball operations. On the contrary, he needs those funds for his other projects.

The other projects include a massive real estate development across from Wrigley Field. Those projects could lead to higher profits than the Cubs because those new venues would operate 365 days per year. In the new grand scheme of things, the Cubs are no longer a priority to ownership. And the declining payroll for the major league roster is a blunt clue to the owner's real motivations.


In a recent interview, former Cubs manager Dale Sveum said his only advice for new manager Rick Renteria is to have patience.

“I had never really been around something that lost that much,” said Sveum, who had a team that had two-year franchise record 197 losses in his tenure. “It’s tough to lose like that, man, I don’t care who you are. For some people, it’s just no big deal. But it wears on you. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”

This is the same sentiment that Lou Piniella had when he abruptly ended his managerial career with the Cubs. Losing wears down managers.  Likewise, losing has to wear down players, or at least numbs them to winning.

And that is the culture that the new front office said its was going to change three years ago. But under current management, losing has actually gotten worse at the major league level. Management has intentionally put a team on the field to lose (and to gain high draft picks and more bonus pool spending money). But that is a destructive plan. There are several "core" players on the major league roster (Wood, Castro, Castillo, Rizzo) who will fall into the same losing trap that consumes their managers. Players get paid whether they win or lose (for the most part, until a contract year hits them). They will run out of patience to better themselves if they see that the team is not going to improve.

February 20, 2014


Sports reporters cannot write proper financial stories because all they do is parrot what owners claim. It is quite frustrating reading an article that is so full of nonsense and b.s. that even market hogs would vomit.

ESPN Chicago has another article quoting Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and his crusade to get everything he wants from the city and rooftop owners. Everything is couched in a nuclear meltdown threat that if does not get his new outfield signs, the whole $500 million development project will come to a grinding halt.

Ricketts comments should have drawn "are you stupid?" follow up questions from the reporter. 

For example:

"Ultimately you have to have control of your own outfield."  Yeah - - -  you already do . . . you sell the most expensive bleacher seats in baseball!

"We can't live for the next 100 years with this kind of situation." But the rooftop deal you knew about, a binding contract, expires in 10 years - - -  not 100!

"If we can't grind out these last few steps (for a rooftop deal), I don't know what's going to happen." It is simple: you DON'T have a new deal and you have to LIVE with the old one!

"We've stepped up the maintenance in the park in hopes this will all work out. That said, if you're going to go out and scrape up another $300-$500 million, you have to know what you're investing in." But that other money is NOT for the ball park but your grand overdeveloped real estate project across the street! (And it seems the bankers who may loan the Ricketts money for the project will not approve the loan without more revenue - - - for which Ricketts has fixated on new signage. This seems to reinforce the notion that the Ricketts don't have the money to move forward on any project without the new signage revenue, reportedly to be around $10 million/year. )

"We all have an incentive to get it done," Ricketts said. "Hopefully all those incentives add up to getting something that works." The rooftop deal was working for 10 years!  What incentive is there for a rooftop owner to have his view blocked and ruin his business? None.

The article also states that the Cubs believe, as private owners of the team and park, that they should be able to do what they want, EXCEPT every private business in America can't do ANYTHING they want with their property because they all are subject to zoning, health, safety and this case landmark and private contracts! If you talk to any local Chicago businessman he or she will tell you that it is bureaucratic nightmare to operate, maintain or expand a business in the city.

Ricketts concluded by saying that  "You can't just pretend Wrigley Field is another ballpark that's built out in some suburb that no one cares about." Because people and fans have a connection to an iconic old ball park does not grant the owner a blanket license to build a massive hotel-commercial-retail (including new taverns and an entertainment plaza) and parking structure. He has constantly said that he is not running a museum; that the ball park must change - - - which dilutes the connection many older fans have to Wrigley Field.

The Cubs don't need a "new deal" with the rooftop owners if the Cubs publicly stated view is that once the city approved the new signage, the team can go forward and build them. So the Cubs have hid real legal concerns from their public relations. The rooftops are the villain to help distract the public from the slow, tedious and bad rebuilding program that has left the Cubs with horrible team after horrible team.


The Cubs opened their shiny new Mesa facility last week.

In the opening press conference, Theo Epstein made comments on the state of the franchise.

“In the two previous off-seasons, we’ve spent every dollar available to us,” Epstein said. “This is the first winter where we ended up keeping some in reserve to be used on players — hopefully prime-age, impact-type players down the road. But it certainly gives us a bit of a leg up as we look towards next winter — or an in-season move that might make the present and the future better.”

This begs the question: if you spent every available dollar in the previous off-seasons to rebuild, why stop in 2014? First, Ricketts has begun to acknowledge that the debt load as part of the team purchase is a factor in spending. Second, Epstein has acknowledged that the team is overly dependent on gate receipts as the key revenue source, which was down again last season - - - and trends for 2014 look worse. Third, money "in reserve" is money not spent, or not available to spend. The Cubs are gearing up for expensive litigation costs so the baseball budget has to get cut. Fourth, the new CBA put the Cubs in the penalty box for overspending last year for international signees. The Cubs can't give a bonus of more than $250,000 which severely limits the kind of talent that can be acquired by that procedure. Fifth, fans don't believe it when president of business operations Crane Kenney says “We have resources. And when we need them, they will be there.”

“Rather than just spend the money to spend it,” Epstein said, “if we can book that and have that available to us, maybe (we can) sign that international free agent who comes along in the middle of the summer. Or (use it to) acquire a player in a trade who carries a significant salary but fits for the long-term.  Or just start out next off-season knowing that we can be a little bit more aggressive on the guys we really want early, because that money will be available to us. That made more sense than just spending it now to spend it.”

Except the Cubs have not been going after the major league ready international free agents like the White Sox did in signing Cuban slugger Jose Abreu. The reason is clear: those players cost more money than pure prospects. And, the Cubs are steadfast in their plan to use teenagers as the foundation for the organizational rebuild, at the cost of fielding a replacement level major league team.

“The people in this organization really believe that we’re on the verge of something special,” Epstein said. “We understand that we’re perceived otherwise, and that’s our fault, because we’ve been a last-place club. We’re not protesting, but we need to earn our way into a position where we’re championship contenders on an annual basis. We feel like that is certainly moving in the right direction.”

Fans and the media are getting flummoxed by the same stock answer for the third year in a row. With no strict time table for results, and the opinion that despite overdrafting pitching the last two years, the organization's greatest weakness is in quality arms, the perception is that the Cubs are all talk. 

February 19, 2014

1992 DRAFT

Derek Jeter has officially announced his retirement. 2014 will be his last season for the Yankees. Troubled by nagging injuries the last few years, Jeter is expected to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

He was drafted in 1992 by the Yankees.

This draft shows what the promise and expectation is for prospects, but history reveals reality. From wikipedia:

First round selections
Pick Player Team Position School
1 Phil Nevindagger Houston Astros Third baseman Cal State Fullerton
2 Paul Shuey Cleveland Indians Pitcher University of North Carolina
3 B. J. Wallace Montreal Expos Pitcher Mississippi State University
4 Jeffrey Hammondsdagger Baltimore Orioles Outfielder Stanford University
5 Chad Mottola Cincinnati Reds Outfielder University of Central Florida
6 Derek Jeterdagger New York Yankees Shortstop Kalamazoo Central High School
7 Calvin Murray San Francisco Giants Outfielder University of Texas
8 Pete Janicki California Angels Pitcher UCLA
9 Preston Wilson New York Mets Shortstop Bamberg Erhardt High School
10 Michael Tucker Kansas City Royals Shortstop Longwood University
11 Derek Wallace Chicago Cubs Pitcher Pepperdine University
12 Kenny Felder Milwaukee Brewers Outfielder Florida State University
13 Chad McConnell Philadelphia Phillies Outfielder Creighton University
14 Ron Villone Seattle Mariners Pitcher University of Massachusetts
15 Sean Lowe St. Louis Cardinals Pitcher Arizona State University
16 Rick Greene Detroit Tigers Pitcher Louisiana State University
17 Jim Pittsley Kansas City Royals[Compensation 1] Pitcher Dubois Area High School
18 Chris Roberts New York Mets[Compensation 2] Pitcher Florida State University
19 Shannon Stewart Toronto Blue Jays[Compensation 3] Outfielder Miami Southridge Senior High School
20 Benji Grigsby Oakland Athletics Pitcher San Diego State University
21 Jamie Arnold Atlanta Braves Pitcher Osceola High School
22 Rick Helling Texas Rangers Pitcher Stanford University
23 Jason Kendalldagger Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher Torrance High School
24 Eddie Pearson Chicago White Sox First baseman Bishop State Junior College
25 Todd Steverson Toronto Blue Jays Outfielder Arizona State University
26 Dan Serafini Minnesota Twins Pitcher Serra High School
27 John Burke Colorado Rockies Pitcher University of Florida
28 Charles Johnsondagger Florida Marlins Catcher University of Miami
29 Jeff Schmidt California Angels[Compensation 4] Pitcher University of Minnesota
30 Jon Ward New York Mets[Compensation 5] Pitcher Huntington Beach High School
31 Sherard Clinkscales Kansas City Royals[Compensation 6] Pitcher Purdue University
32 Ryan Luzinski Los Angeles Dodgers[Compensation 7] Catcher Holy Cross High School
33 Shon Walker Pittsburgh Pirates[Compensation 8] Outfielder Harrison County High School
34 Brandon Cromer Toronto Blue Jays[Compensation 9] Shortstop Lexington High School
35 Johnny Damondagger Kansas City Royals[Compensation 10] Outfielder Dr. Phillips High School
36 Michael Moore Los Angeles Dodgers[Compensation 11] Outfielder UCLA
37 Kendall Rhine Houston Astros[Compensation 12] Pitcher University of Georgia
38 Gabby Martinez Milwaukee Brewers[Compensation 13] Shortstop Luchetti High School

Only seven players of the 38 first round selections made an All-Star team. That is only an 18 percent impact player ratio. And of these selections, only Jeter stands out which shows that there is really only a 2.5 percent chance that first rounder could be a Hall of Fame talent.

February 18, 2014


The Cubs have promised that the team has a pipeline of great prospects coming to save the franchise. But until a player actually reaches the majors, and then performs at a high level, it is just talk.

Even the best profiles, the best scouts, the best minor league instructors, fail in their assessments of young players.

The White Sox had similar hopes with a large group of outfield prospects. So far, it has been a bitter disappointment. In the last few seasons, scouting publications and the team felt the strength of the White Sox organization were their outfield prospects: Jared Mitchell, 25, has long been viewed as the outfielder who would make the first impact, but his struggles now have him off the radar;  Courtney Hawkins, 20, who struggled in Class A last year; Trace Thompson, 23, and Keenyn Walker, 23.

These touted prospects have not progressed enough to help the major league team, so the White Sox changed course to trade for a new right fielder and new center fielder in the past seven months.

In Baseball America's latest ranking of top 10 White Sox prospects, none of the top six are outfielders. At the top of the list, three of the first four listed figure to get an opportunity in the major leagues.

Top prospect Jose Abreu,  26, who was signed in the offseason for $68 million as the heir apparent at first base, is more like a free agent expected to contribute from day one. No. 2 prospect, 24-year-old pitcher Erik Johnson,  appears to be a lead candidate to take over two available rotation spots.

Matt Davidson,  a third baseman obtained from the Diamondbacks for closer Addison Reed,  is the long term solution for the black hole that has been third base since Bret Morel's back collapsed his career.

The White Sox will not hesitate to upgrade any position, including in the infield. Marcus Semien debuted last season for a short stint and he impressed a few observers. He can play several infield positions.  Micah Johnson isn't in the major league plans this season, but the 23-year-old is coming fast. He not only was the Southern League playoffs MVP after leading Double-A Birmingham to the title in 2013, he led all minor league players with 84 steals. In 77 games to start the season at Class A Kannapolis, he had a .422 on-base percentage and nearly scored a run a game.

The White Sox organization has always been dismissed in their lack of pitching prospects. But in the past several years, the team has brought a a slew of home grown pitching talent. GM Rick Hahn had the luxury of trading No. 4 starter Hector Santiago to obtain starting CF Adam Eaton. He did so because he has other young pitchers, like Johnson, ready to make the next step. Among that group is  23-year-old right-hander Chris Beck, who had his own breakthrough season in 2013. The second-round pick in 2012 advanced as high as Double-A last season, posting 3.07 ERA over 26 starts at two separate levels. He may be another September call-up to be prepped for 2015.

Prospects are like speculative penny stocks. Big hit or big miss. But the White Sox seem to have more major league ready prospects than the Cubs. And the White Sox are not afraid to promote their prospects quickly to fill needs on their major league roster. It would be no surprise that if Beckham does not get off to a fast start at second, Semien could take his place.

February 17, 2014


It is happening in most professional sports. Teams are looking for "versatile" players, athletes that can play more than one position. The concept is that would give the manager or coach flexibility in game planning and strategy if he has more interchangeable pieces.

This may be well and good for bench or role players. But it seems to diminish the value of starters.

As for the Cubs, this year again they have a bunch of bench players vying for starting and platoon roles.

New infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio could be paid starter money if he makes the team, and deposes either the unknown center fielder already in camp, or displaces Barney at second base. Or, he becomes a super utility bench player.

As bad as it seems, the Cubs have really only have  two openings among position players.

Infield: Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy have jobs/platoon roles to go along with catchers Welington Castillo and George Kottaras.

Outfield: Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano, and Junior Lake are the only outfielders on the club's depth chart. Lake is a converted infielder playing out of position. Sweeney and Ruggiano are journeymen outfielders.

It would appear that the 5th outfield and one infield position are open to competition. Already on the 40-man roster are Logan Watkins, Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson and Mike Olt, all of whom have performance issues to address.  The non-roster invitees are long shot darkhorses: Ryan Roberts, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Mitch Maier and former rookie of the year, Chris Coghlan.

If you look at the potential final roster, you can see that it will be filled by mostly utility bench players. Only three position players could start elsewhere: Castro, Castillo and Rizzo.  That is only 27 percent of your positional starters are projected to be major league starting material (possibly a combined 6.0 WAR). The rest of the positional squad appear to be replacement level talent.

So the Cubs will once again field a versatile squad of players, most of whom are not very good.


Spring training is here. Columnists will soak in some sun and make in the next few weeks bold predictions on the success or failure of baseball teams.

In 2013, the Cubs record was 66-96. It's Pythagoean record was calculated (by a formula that takes in account runs scored and runs allowed) to be 71-91, which represents to some that the Cubs underperformed their projected record. When we look at the WAR for both hitters (15.6) and pitchers (10.5), one would have calculated the Cubs having 75.1 wins.

In 2012, the Cubs record was 61-101. It's Pythagoean record was calculated to be 65-97, which represents to some that the Cubs underperformed their projected record. When we look at the WAR for both hitters (13.6) and pitchers (2.3), one would have calculated the Cubs having 64.9 wins.

In 2011, the Cubs record was 71-91. It's Pythagoean record was calculated to be 70-92, which was only a game off.  When we look at the WAR for both hitters (14.0) and pitchers (7.5), one would have calculated the Cubs having 70.5 wins.

In 2010, the Cubs record was 75-87. It's Pythagoean record was calculated to be 73-89, which represents to some that the Cubs overperformed their projected record. When we look at the WAR for both hitters (7.4) and pitchers (15.9), one would have calculated the Cubs having 72.3 wins.

In 2009, the Cubs record was 83-78, the last above .500 record. It's Pythagoean record was calculated to be 84-77, which represents to some that the Cubs underperformed their projected record by a game. When we look at the WAR for both hitters (10.8) and pitchers (24.2), one would have calculated the Cubs having 84.0 wins.

Charting the win totals:

Real Wins     Pyth Wins   WAR Wins
 66                     71                 75.1
 61                     65                 64.9
 71                     70                 70.5
 75                     73                 72.3
 83                     84                 84.0
356                  363               366.8

It appears that the Pythagoean record is a 2 percent deviation from Real Wins. The WAR win calculation is higher at a 3 percent deviation. A 2 to 3 percent deviation calculates to a difference of 3.24 to 4.86 wins per 162 game season. This number is interesting because it can explain many things. First, the deviation falls within the general discussion of what is the "value" of a manager to the performance of his club. A great manager can improve his team's record by a few games. A bad manager can cost a team a few games. Since the Cubs underperformed by 3 to 5 wins on average, is this proof that bad managers cost even a bad team wins?  Second, this could also show that the players themselves did not play well as a team (the sum of their individual parts, i.e. stats was greater than the the team record). This could show a lack of collective baseball IQ, the ability to manufacturer runs or give a team less second chance opportunities to score runs. Bad teams have a tendency to fail in the basic game fundamentals.

If one would want to predict the number of Cubs wins in 2014, I would suggest taking the final 25 man roster, average the last two seasons players' WARs, minus 2.5 percent. That figure should be close to the last five year average track record for the Cubs.

February 16, 2014


You just cannot have enough .240 hitting infielders on your roster.

The Cubs signed newly released Royal Emilio Bonifacio to a minor league contract with major league incentives if he makes the squad out of spring training. His total pay package with the Cubs could reach $2.5 million.

The Royals had just signed Bonifacio to a $3.5 million contract to avoid arbitration, but released him only a week later. This raised some serious questions about why the Royals would sign a player then release him in a short time period. The move to open a roster spot was precipitated by the Royals signing LHP Bruce Chen. Chen, 36, went 9-4, 3.27 ERA and 1.7 WAR for the Royals last season.

Bonifacio, 28, hit .243 in 136 GP for the Blue Jays and Royals last season. He hit 3 HR, 31 RBI, 28 SB, .295 OBP with a 1.3 WAR. He can play second and third base and any outfield position, and he contributes good value on the bases. He also played shortstop in 2011.

CBS Sports reports that Bonifacio had other major league offers, but took the Cubs minor league deal. That means the other offers were problem at a much lower base salary. Bonifacio may have also believed he had the best chance to start with the Cubs at second base, or at least have a bench spot with the team because of his versatility.  

Whether new manager Renteria is going to have an open competition for roster positions is unclear. This signing does probably put Logan Watkins back in AAA to scrap for playing time, especially if Baez is going to take reps at second base. It also puts pressure on Donnie Murphy to show the power he suddenly had with the Cubs last season if he is going to make the team as a back-up role player. The Cubs are still devoid of team power, especially off the bench.

February 15, 2014


The Cubs have been busy this off-season signing players to minor league contracts. It can give one perspective in the shortcomings of the minors as well as areas of concern on the current major league roster. Whether these signings are an upgrade in minor league positions is always debatable. But from the type of signings, it is clear that the front office is looking closely at several positions.

November signings:

LF Darnell McDonald to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
LF Casper Wells to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
LHP Jeffrey Antigua to a minor league contract.
2B Chris Valika  to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
RHP Carlos Pimentel to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

RHP Paolo Espino to a minor league contract.
2B Jeudy Valdez  to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
C Eli Whiteside  to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
SS Walter Ibarra to a minor league contract.
RF Aaron Cunningham to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

December signings:

claimed RHP Brett Marshall  off waivers from Yankees

2B Ryan Roberts  to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
CF Mitch Maier to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
C John Baker to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
LHP Tommy Hottovy to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
LF Ryan Kalish to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

January signings:

RHP Chang-Yong Lim  to a minor league contract.

1B Lars Anderson  to a minor league contract.
LHP James McDonald to a minor league contract.

Here is a few comments I glean from these moves:

Left field is a major focal point. Junior Lake may not be the answer, so the Cubs have stockpiled outfielders at that position who have major league experience (McDonald, Wells, and Kalish). It also points out that the 5th outfielder spot is still an open competition in spring training.

Second base is also a concern despite Barney's renewal. Valika, Valdez and Roberts all have spring invites, possibly to push Barney and/or get a utility infield spot on the bench. 

Catcher is an organizational weakness and the signings of Whiteside and Baker for AAA duty is a sign that Kottaras may not be the full season solution to replace Navarro. It is also insurance for Castillo's nagging injury concerns.

The Cubs major league bullpen seems to be both set and in flux. Pimentel, Espino, Marshall, Hottovy, McDonald and Lim may get one of the bullpen slots if they have a hot spring and impress new manager Renteria. 

Lars Anderson's signing is desperate insurance in case Rizzo goes down. For the last two years, Anderson has played down to a classic AAAA player.

The signings also point to a churn in the minor league system. The numbers being signed in a few positions is like overloading on prospects hoping one will hit his talent upside.

But these signings also stress that these players are really plug-ins when the front office attempts to sell off its most valuable assets prior to the trade deadline. The candidates for trades this year include Samardzija, Veras, Schierholtz, Ruggiano (if he has a hot start in CF), Lake (as part of a package deal for better prospects), or Barney (for a club looking for defense). 

But for some unknown reason, the Cubs this week waived both Marshall and Brooks Raley.  Marshall was claimed by the Reds and Raley claimed by the Twins. Both were on the 40 man roster, so the front office may be opening space to sign free agents.

February 14, 2014


A post-season review of Cubs starter Anthony Rizzo has turned as harsh as the Chicago winter.

Matthew Pouliot of Rotoworld opined that Rizzo was one of the majors most "over rated" first basemen:

Anthony Rizzo -- Cubs - I didn't think I was down on Rizzo, but he has an average draft position of 101 at Yahoo so far, while I place him 157th in the top 300. On the one hand, it looks like quite a fluke that Rizzo hit just .233 last season, given his obvious power and the fact that his strikeout rate was below the league average. Still, I think he's more of a .260-.270 guy than someone likely to hit .280-.290. Also, he has a really crummy lineup around him again. The Cubs got OBPs of .321 and .310 from the top two spots in the lineup ahead of Rizzo last year, and they've done nothing to upgrade over the winter. Actually, they've most likely downgraded, since David DeJesus had a .341 OBP in his 66 games as a leadoff man last season. I have Rizzo posting the same kind of OPS as guys ahead of him like Eric Hosmer, Morales and Mike Napoli, but I expect him to lag behind all of those guys in RBI.

Numbers don't lie. And the fact that the Cubs are a bad team does not help a middle of the line up hitter's production.

However, Rizzo has put up a 2.4 WAR (2012) and 2.6 WAR (2013) which are solid starter numbers. He has hit 39 HR and driven in 137 RBI as a Cub which an average 19.5 HR and 68.5 RBI. People expect 30 HR and 100 RBI seasons from Rizzo, which means that he would have to increase his offensive production by 46 to 54 percent in order to attain those goals.  In order to do that, the Cubs team would have to increase its team on-base percentage by a similar amount in order for Rizzo to have base runners in front of him and the ability to see better pitches. Currently, the Cubs have no lead off or number two hitter to set the table, or a solid #4 threat to protect Rizzo in the third slot in the order. One solution is to move Starlin Castro to lead off and let him swing away. However, that move creates Castro as a mini-Soriano, which may not be a good thing over the long term.


Bill Veeck owned the Chicago White Sox in two periods of the club's darkest days.

In 1959, Veeck became head of a group that purchased a controlling interest in the Sox, who went on to win their first pennant in 40 years.  That year the White Sox broke a team attendance record for home games with 1.4 million. The next year the team broke the same record with 1.6 million visitors with the addition of the first "exploding scoreboard" in the major leagues – producing electrical and sound effects and fireworks whenever the White Sox player hit a home run. He also added the players' surnames on the back of their uniform, a practice now standard by 25 of 30 clubs on all jerseys.

Veeck  could not financially compete so he sold off the team. However, he repurchased the tema in 1975. Veeck's return rankled baseball's owner establishment, most of the old guard viewing him as a pariah after both exposing most of his peers in his 1961 book Veeck As In Wreck, which is a must-read for any baseball fan. 

Almost immediately after taking control of the Sox for a second time Veeck unleashed another publicity stunt designed to irritate his fellow owners. He and general manager conducted four trades in a hotel lobby, in full view of the public. Two weeks later, however, an arbitrator ruled that the reserve clause void and ushered in the era of free agency. Veeck's power as an owner began to wane relative to richer owners. He still could not financially compete with the rich owners.  In an attempt to adapt to free agency he developed a "rent-a-player" model, centering on the acquisition of other clubs' stars in their option years. The gambit was moderately successful: in  1977 he White Sox won 90 games, and finished third in the standings.

There were a few guiding principles that made Veeck a successful team operator. He always said that he did nothing to diminish the game of baseball his team played on the field. All of his stunts, promotions and innovations were to make the fan experience better; to draw fans in like a circus did during his own childhood. He also treated his players with respect, as he knew they were the stars of his show. He had to keep costs low in order to draw people to the ball park. The one thing he never did was discount ticket prices, because he felt fans had to know that is what they were paying for: baseball.

He was a small market operator playing in the shadow of big city rich teams. He once said that he survived by selling out home stands when the Yankees or Red Sox came into town.

Veeck was the last baseball owner in Chicago who actually knew all aspects of running a major league baseball team. He grew up in the ground crew at Wrigley when his father was with the Cubs. He knew concessions, marketing, contracts and most importantly, people. He was out in the stands talking to patrons about what they liked or disliked about the Cubs. This was before the sterile market surveys or focus groups; Veeck was out having conversations with real people who enjoyed his game. He was seen as a man of the people, and in certain respects he became the face of the franchise.

Veeck lived and died at the gate. Attendance at Comiskey was the biggest revenue source for his teams. Likewise, Epstein's recent admission that the Cubs are overly dependent on fans coming to Wrigley is a haunting echo to Veeck's past in Chicago.

Last weekend, a report surfaced that internal projects from the Cubs show that the team will only draw 1.7 million fans in 2014. That is another deep drop in attendance. If that is true, then the Cubs would be falling toward 1980-1981 attendance levels (which is the first years of the Tribune reign). This would also be another 650,000 lost ticket sales in just one off-season. In the Cubs own revenue project formula, that fan loss equates to approximately $34.5 million of top line revenue. The anecdotal evidence to support this report is that several former season ticket holders have been cold called by the Cubs numerous times this off-season to try to have them reconsider and buy a ticket package. One would not have to call former ticket holders if the team had such a long waiting list, unless of course, those people also passed on season ticket packages for 2014. The Ricketts ownership is on pace then to lose a staggering 49 percent of their attendance in the first six years of running the Cubs.

Besides the financial wreck that has hit home with the Cubs, Epstein and the front office has been grousing about the fact that the new CBA has hindered their rebuilding plans. They can no longer overpay for a hoard of prospects. But Veeck had more restrictions on him when he ran teams than Epstein does today. And Veeck figured out a way to field a competitive team by obtaining players in their final contract years before free agency. Players playing for next year's contract usually play a little harder. Epstein has done just the opposite. Instead of building a team of hungry veterans in contract years, he has traded away all those type of players for multiple low-level prospects. As a result, the major league team is very bad 100-loss expansion club.

As the old saying goes, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. The Cubs are on a free fall path back to the early 1960s, which is not a good thing. Ricketts is turning into a new P.K. Wrigley, which is really not a good thing.