Posted on 12 November 2010 by Lou
This is a pretty interesting move by Tom Ricketts and the Cubs in order to commence massive renovations at Wrigley Field for the next few years. The Ricketts Family clearly wants to keep the Cubs at Wrigley Field and they are appealing to legislators and Cubs fans to make it happen. The Ricketts sent a letter to Cubs season ticket holders and Wrigleyville residents this week urging them to back a bill that will be up for vote at the Illinois General Assembly soon. Cubs fans pay a 12% amusement tax on all Cubs ticket sales. The bill would provide that a portion of the revenue generated from such amusement tax would be invested directly in the preservation and development of Wrigley Field in order to keep the ball park on the North Side of Chicago. Rickets specifically stated the following in his letter — “The plan is fair, simple, and solves the problem. Most importantly, it will not increase taxes paid by Cubs fans or anyone else and will not create any new taxes… We have an opportunity in this upcoming legislative session to begin the process of renovating and restoring Wrigley Field and securing its continued future contributions to the Lakeview economy.”
Bonds would be issued to fund the long-term improvements to the ballpark. The Cubs paid $16.1 million in City of Chicago and Cook County amusement taxes in 2009. The Cubs would guarantee at least that much each year during the renovation process and any taxes in excess of that $16.1 million amount (through increased ticket prices or increased sales revenues based upon the year) would go directly back to pay off the bonds. This was a smart move by the Ricketts Family. Fans like this move because it won’t raise their own taxes or what they are going to pay for their Cubs tickets, plus it ensures fans that Wrigley Field will stay right here in Wrigleyville. Wrigleyville residents should also like this. While some complain about the noise and negative impact of night games and rowdy crowds, those people don’t truly understand how the presence of Wrigley Field and the bars and restaurants that surround the ballpark actually help keep the community thriving and increase property values. This should give business owners confidence to continue to build and develop in the area because they will know that the Ricketts don’t plan on moving the stadium out of Wrigleyville. By appealing to both bases, the Ricketts are trying to build a strong coalition to get the bill approved. If approved, having $200 million to invest in the preservation and development of Wrigley Field (to build new suites, a new scoreboard, new advertising opportunities, etc.) will only help them increase the value of their Cubs assets. Give ’em credit – they might not be putting a winning team on the field just yet, but they are positioning themselves to have a long successful run in the near future.
Posted on 05 November 2010 by Lou
Mesa, Arizona will remain the spring training home for the Chicago Cubs after voters approved Mesa Proposition 420 earlier this week. 63% of all ballots cast supported the proposition. Now that Mesa voters have approved funding for the construction of a new spring training for the Cubs, the city will provide up to $99 million for the project. $84 million will be allocated to facility construction and the other $15 million will be allocated to infrastructure concerns. Anything over the $99 million mark will be covered by the Cubs organization. The new facility should be ready for the 2013 Spring Training schedule, so the Cubs have 2 more years left at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. The Cubs have trained in Mesa since 1979 and they have led the Cactus League in attendance 13 of the last 15 seasons.
Tom Ricketts was thrilled with the approval: “In a show of tremendous support in a particularly difficult economy, Mesa voters recognized the potential of partnering with the Chicago Cubs on an economic investment and future we can, together, create for the city. Our public-private partnership means jobs for Mesa, tourism dollars for the city and the region, and will drive private investment in Mesa and in the development of Wrigleyville West.”
Sorry, I guess I called it “Wrigley Field Southwest” not “Wrigleyville West” as Ricketts dubbed it. Can’t wait to check out the new digs in Mesa in 2013…
Posted on 04 November 2010 by Lou
When the Cubs chose Mike Quade instead of Ryne Sandberg to fill the Cubs managerial opening, the writing was on the wall that Sandberg would leave the Cubs organization. That reality became official on Wednesday afternoon when the Cubs announced that Sandberg declined the opportunity to manage the Triple-A Iowa Cubs for a 2nd straight season. GM Jim Hendry had this to say about the announcement: “The Iowa decision was totally his. We gave him as much time on his decision as he needed to. He’ll always be a beloved Cub… I don’t think it was ever in his plans to be in the minor leagues after this year. Whatever opportunities he looks to is up to him. He’ll always be welcome here. He knows that for the future, if he chooses he wants to come to spring training, that would be great. If he wants to pursue opportunities with someone else that would be up to him..
Owner Tom Ricketts echoed those sentiments on ESPN Radio 1000’s “Afternoon Saloon” show later that afternoon: “There’s no good-bye. He’s a Cubs. He’ll be a Cub for life… If he would like to explore some options with other teams to pursue some other opportunities that doesn’t really change anything with respect to what he has accomplished for the team or what he means to the team. If that’s his decision then I wish him all the best, and he’s a Cub forever.”
Sandberg managed in the Cubs minor league system for the past 4 seasons. He led Double-A Tennessee to the playoffs in 2009 and he was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year as he led the Iowa Cubs to and 82-62 record during the 2010 baseball season. Sandberg was a 10-time All-Star during his Cubs career. He won the 1984 National League MVP Award as the Cubs won the NL East title for the 1st time since 1945. Sandberg also won 9 Gold Glove Awards for his solid play at 2nd base.
It is a sad day, but not an unexpected one. Let’s hope the Ricketts’ family has a plan here on the North Side. With all the trades last year, a whole new coaching staff and a brand new ownership team still learning the ins and outs of running a major league baseball team, Tom Ricketts clearly has his work cut out for him. I’m not expecting a major turnaround in a year, but we need to see things move in a positive direction in the very near future so that we can start to get excited about rooting for a good Cubs team again.
Posted on 29 October 2010 by Lou
It’s official – or at least as official as we can make it – Ryne Sandberg will not be a part of new Cubs Manager Mike Quade’s coaching staff. While neither Quade nor Sandberg have come out and said it, sources close to the situation have indicated that Sandberg will not be a coach on Quade’s staff.
This “official rumor” comes as no surprise at all. Sandberg was devastated that Tom Ricketts and Jim Hendry did not name him the new Cubs manager. To be subjected to the inferior bench coach job underneath Quade would be way too much to swallow for the Cubs legend and Hall of Famer. Further, if the team did get off to a rough start for the 1st half of the season, there would be way too much chatter about Sandberg taking over the reigns as the manager. Throw in the fact that you’d hate to have factions with some guys supporting Quade and some guys supporting Sandberg, this makes all the sense in the world.
We’ll support Quade while he is in charge for 2 years. If he doesn’t get the job done, Quade and most likely, Hendry will both be gone after the 2012 MLB season. And then maybe the Cubs can revisit bringing Sandberg back as the manager.
I wish 2011 would get here soon – can’t wait to see if things get worse on the north side or if they just stay the same under Quade.
Posted on 28 October 2010 by Lou
Could Kerry Wood be back with the Chicago Cubs in 2011 and beyond? It’s unclear, but that option became available when the New York Yankees officially declined the club’s $11 million option to sign Wood for the 2011 MLB schedule. No big surprise there, and while Wood could potentially re-sign with the Yankees at a lower dollar amount, this does open the door for a potential return to Chicago after spending seasons with the Cleveland Indians and Yankees.
Wood was lights-out for the Yankees during the 2nd half of the 2010 baseball season and it appears that he can pitch on a consistent basis despite the tear in his right shoulder. In 24 games with the evil Yankees, Wood posted a 0.69 ERA and became one of Manager Joe Girardi’s most trusted relievers down the stretch. Wood still has residences in both Chicago and Arizona and he has already confirmed that his primary residence is Chicago. With his oldest child starting school in the Chicago area, could we see Wood being willing to come back to the north side of Chicago as the veteran presence the bullpen so desperately needs. With the plethora of young arms in the bullpen, Wood would be a perfect role model for a lot of these players. I’m getting a little giddy about having Wood back on the Cubs. Assuming that they don’t have to spend more than a few million dollars on the 34-year old reliever, this seems like a no-brainer to me. Let’s just hope the Ricketts Family and GM Jim Hendry see it that way too…
Posted on 19 October 2010 by Lou
In what was an expected move as we wrote about the other day, the Cubs hired Mike Quade to manage the Cubs for the next 2 seasons. The Cubs made it official this morning and will have a press conference at 3PM today at the Friendly Confines to introduce their new skipper. Quade managed the Cubs to a 24-13 record during the Cubs final 37 games after taking over for Lou Pinella who abruptly left the team to tend to pressing family matters on the home front. The 24-13 mark was the 2nd best of any major league team during that time frame at the end of the 2010 MLB season. Quade had been the Cubs 3rd base coach under Pinella since 2007 when Pinella was first hired. Quade has spent 9 seasons with the Cubs organization and he managed the Cubs Triple-A Iowa franchise from 2003 through 2006. Quade signed a 2-year deal with the Cubs and the Cubs have a club option for the 2013 MLB season as well. I’m sure we’ll get some sound bites from Quade as the day progresses, but this what he said back in August after he had managed 7 games as the Cubs “interim” skipper — ”
Quade beat out Ryne Sandberg – the fan favorite Hall of Famer – who has been managing at the Cubs minor league level for the past 4 seasons. Sandberg was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year after guiding Triple-A Iowa to an 82-62 record this past season. He also led the Double-A Tennessee Cubs team to the Southern League championship series a year ago in 2009. His first 2 years as a minor league manager were spent with the Class A Peoria Cubs. Sandberg envisioned managing in the Cubs farm system for a few years before taking over the reins of the Cubs major league team, but it doesn’t look like it is going to work out exactly that way. Sandberg had this to say about the Cubs decision to hire Quade on the Waddle & Silvy ESPN Radio 1000 show this morning: “From my standpoint, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a disappointing day for sure… I think now it’s digesting everything and kind of change the wheels and turn in a different direction. I was focused on something, and it’s just taking it all in… I spent the four years in the minor leagues to manage at the major league level, and that’s where my heart is and that’s what my next step is. That’s where I look next. So I’ll take it a step at a time and see if there’s another opportunity out there and go from there. I wish Mike Quade the best; I wish the Cubs the best and the Ricketts family.” Without saying it, it’s clear that Sandberg will not be back with the Cubs next season. Look for him to land a job at the major league level as a bench coach with a high profile manager to get some “major league” experience so he can take the next step forward in his managerial career.
Back to Quade, he clearly earned the respect of his players – both young and old. He even benched up and coming star Starlin Castro for 2 games when he forget how many outs there were when he failed to run out a groundball and grounded into an inning-ending double play. So he expects 100% from his players all the time – whether you are a super star or the 25th man on the roster. He expects accountability as well, which could be a good thing for this Cubs team. Cubs starter Ryan Dempster – whom I respect a ton – had nothing but the highest praise for Quade -“It’s awesome, they couldn’t have made a better hire. He’s a great pick to manage this team… He did a great job when he was given the opportunity. It’s a great move for the organization and for us as a team. I’m extremely thrilled that he got the opportunity here, because if it was going to be here, it was going to be somewhere else… I know that Ryno has done a really good job in the minor leagues so far. He’s only got a few years managing down there, and he’s done really well. I’m sure the more experience he gets, the better he’s going to be. He was a tremendous player and is a tremendous person, and that experience is only going to make him better. I know people would love to see Sandberg back in a Cubs uniform and at Wrigley Field every day, and maybe that’s as much the infatuation as it is with who’s going to make the best manager. And I’m not saying Ryno won’t be a great manager, I just know Mike is a tremendous one and we’re lucky to have him.” WOW – a ringing endorsement for Quade from one of the most respected starting pitcher on the staff.
I’m still not entirely convinced he is the right man for the job long-term. I keep going back to the fact that this guy might not even been considered a candidate if Pinella didn’t abruptly step down as the Cubs skipper on August 22nd. Cubs GM Jim Hendry opted to go with Quade instead of bench coach Alan Trammell to run the team through the final 37 games of the season, so because he did a good job, he became the front runner for the job. Does that mean that if Hendry had given the job to Trammell and the Cubs went 24-13, then he would have been the best man for the job? It all seems a little odd to me, but this is just another example of why I think Hendry needs to go. I cannot wait until his contract comes up after the 2012 MLB season. Think that has anything to do with Quade’s contract being a 2-year deal. It’s pretty clear that unless something dramatic happens over the next 2 seasons in a positive direction, both Hendry and Quadew ill be looking for work outside of the Cubs organization.
Posted on 16 October 2010 by Lou
Is Mike Quade the front runner for the Cubs managerial job – all signs point towards a Quade hire in the upcoming weeks.
One candidate – Eric Wedge – was hired by the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
In a recent statement sent to Cubs season ticket holders about the 2010 MLB season and what lies ahead for the Cubs organization, the Ricketts Family singled out Mike Quade for the incredible work he did as Cubs interim manager during the final 37 games of the 2010 MLB season. Quade guided the Cubs to a 24-13 mark during that stretch, which was the 2nd best record of any team in baseball during that period. In the same letter to season ticket holders, Ricketts complemented 2 scouting employees for their solid work in the minor leagues, but he never mentioned the fact that Ryne Sandberg guided his club to within 1 game of the Pacific Coast League playoffs or the fact that he was named PCL Manager of the Year. Are these telling signs that the Ricketts and GM Jim Hendry have already decided to go with Quade? Or are we reading way too much into this.
Things are all quiet on the North Side front these days. Guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens. I like the fact that Quade earned the respect of his players and that the organization likes Quade, who has a ton of major league coaching experience. But the franchise is in a major state of transition right now – the next few years are make or break for the team – and they have young stars like Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Andrew Cashner and James Russell that are on the brink of doing something great. I would hate to put it all in the hands of a coach who has never managed in the major leagues before. Come on, isn’t that the knock on Sandberg? If Pinella hadn’t decided to leave in the middle of August, Quade would never have even gotten a chance to be the Cubs “interim manager”. Would we even be talking about him as a candidate given the fact that he would have had no major league managerial experience either? This has the bad taste of a Cubs debacle written all over it. I hope Quade, Sandberg or the new Cubs manager proves me wrong, but I have a feeling that we are in for another long ride on the north side for the next few years…
Posted on 14 October 2010 by Lou
Tom Ricketts is doing whatever it takes to make sure that the Cubs continue to call Mesa, Arizona “home” for the foreseeable future. Proposition 420 will be on the general election ballot in November and Ricketts is already in the Mesa area trying to drum up support for the bill. The proposition will allow the city to spend up to $84 million on a new spring training complex for the Cubs. City officials do not want to spend more than $15 million on the project, so the rest of the money will have to be approved by the voters. Any costs over the estimated $84 million will be covered by the Chicago Cubs.
The complex would include a stadium, practice fields and a training facility for the Cubs organization. The Cubs also want to build a retail and entertainment complex to create additional revenue streams near the Cubs site. Part of that entertainment complex could include a brand-new Cactus League museum. The Cubs have provided several pieces of Cubs memorabilia in a temporary exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth in order to raise awareness and excitement for the proposed complex. The Cubs are an important piece to the economy of the greater Phoenix area. Current records estimate that the team brings in about $138 million in revenue each year to the area. A new state-of-the-art complex would mean more jobs and even greater annual revenues for the area. But passing Proposition 420 is a big step toward that goal.
Ricketts had this to say about the Cubs staying in Mesa and the potential for a memorabilia museum — “Seeing this collection re-enforces the whole vision. You think about what you have here, what we could probably come up with from our own archives and maybe by asking other teams, it could be something very special and something people would want to see not just during Spring Training but year-round when they visit the area.” Looks like the Cubs are not set in stone in Mesa just yet. If Prop 420 passes, the Cubs could get to use their new digs as early as Spring 2013…
Posted on 12 October 2010 by Lou
The latest Cubs managerial search update revolves around Tom Ricketts’ meeting with Eric Wedge – the former Cleveland Indians manager. The Wedge meeting was scheduled to take place sometime today. Wedge managed the Indians from 2003-2009 and had an overall losing record. He was named Manager of the Year, however, back in 2007.
Now it looks like GM Jim Hendry has narrowed down the managerial search to 4 candidates — Wedge, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Quade and Bob Melvin.
It is believed that Ricketts has already interviewed Sandberg. Sandberg has managed in the Cubs organization for the past 4 years. He was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year this year for his work with Triple-A Iowa, but his team missed out on the playoffs when they lost their final game of the season.
Quade also met with Ricketts before he went back to his Florida home after the end of the Cubs season on October 3rd. Quade surprised people with his ability to guide the Cubs to a 24-13 record after taking over for Lou Pinella on August 23rd. That was the 2nd best record of any MLB team during that stretch of 37 games to end the season.
Melvin managed both the Seattle Mariners and the Arizona Diamondbacks, but we have not been able to confirm whether he has met with Ricketts, or if he will.
This probably means that the Cubs have opted to go in a different direction than they have in each of the last 3 hires – Don Baylor, Dusty Baker and Lou Pinella – all old school guys that have been around the block once or twice. That also means that Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox were never even contemplated by Hendry or the Ricketts Family. Pretty interesting stuff, but it looks like we could have an announcement sooner rather than later on the managerial decision.
Posted on 02 October 2010 by Lou
Should he stay or should he go? That might be the biggest question for GM Jim Hendry and the Ricketts Family as the quest for a better 2011 begins in earnest as October looms. Big Z has made a startling turn-around since being re-inserted into the starting rotation back in early August. As we have continued to highlight, Zambrano has been lights-out in the 10 starts. He is 7-0 with 3 no decisions during the stretch. He has had a miniscule 1.27 ERA which has helped lower his ERA from 5.46 all the way down to 3.36. It is truly amazing to believe that Zambrano has been able to go 10-6 with a 3.36 ERA overall this year after the horrendous 1st 4 months to the season.
But can he keep it up in 2011? That is the big question. Before he made the triumphant turn-around, everyone expected Zambrano to be dealt in the off-season with the Cubs having to take on a big chunk of the $37 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons. Now, Zambrano has emerged as a legitimate top of the rotation starter again, and demand for the big righty could be at an all-time high. The Cubs could find a suitor for Big Z who would be willing to take him at the full contract price AND the Cubs could even get something back in return for Big Z. If that happens, you have to think that GM Jim Hendry will pull the trigger. That would leave a huge void in an already-barren startinf rotation, but it could also free up some money to make a strong push to land Cliff Lee, arguably the best free agent starter to hit the market in November. If the Cubs could unload Big Z and then sign Lee, that would be a huge step in the right direction for the Cubs in 2011.
Guess we’ll have to see how it all plays out, but it should be fun to watch as we get ready for all the rumors to start swirling very soon.