Posted on 21 September 2010 by Lou
Carlos Zambrano looks to keep the good times rolling as the Cubs return to Wrigley Field tonight to take on the San Francisco Giants. Big Z has been at the top of his game since returning to the starting rotation in early August. He has a chance to win his 7th game in a row as his ability to limit his walks each game has put him (and his team) in a better position to win each game. Zambrano has a new perspective on the game of baseball during the last few months — “Things happen for a reason. I learned a lesson when the [tantrum] happened, and sometimes God puts you in situations for you to leanr things. I just want to keep going and do something to help this team.” Going 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 8 starts since becoming a starter again, has enabled Big Z to get his ERA down to a respectable 3.75. A win tonight would also give him 10 wins on the season. It could happen because Big Z has had success against the Giants — in 9 starts, he has a 5-1 record with a 2.92 ERA.
Each and every start makes it that much harder for the Cubs to decide what to do with the troubled righty. If he really is committed to staying in shape and being a team player, Big Z has shown just what he can do when he is focused. The problem is, he always seems to be 1 small step away from losing it on the field or in the locker room. If a good offer for the righty comes along during the off-season, GM Jim Hendry and the Ricketts Family are going to have a tough decision ahead of them.
Posted on 03 September 2010 by Lou
Tom Ricketts has made it very clear that GM Jim Hendry is in charge of the managerial search that will ultimately lead to the hiring of a new Cubs Manager for the 2011 MLB schedule. Now I know that this is typically the General Manager’s job, but in the current situation, I question whether it is the right move. You may think this is a dumb question, but my real concerns lie with Hendry as Cubs GM and not Lou Pinella or Mike Quade as manager. As a new owner, this is the perfect chance for Tom Ricketts to look at everyone’s performance in the organization, and that should include Hendry. Based on Rickett’s comments though, it is clear that Ricketts has confidence in Hendry’s abilities (despite putting together a 57-win team with the highest payroll in the National League and 3rd highest payroll in all of baseball). I am worried that Ricketts has simply assumed that Hendry is a capable GM and that there doesn’t need to be a change in that role. I respectfully beg to differ. Especially from a financial guy like Ricketts, it boggles my mind why he thinks that mortgaging the future of the team for the next 2-4 years with bad long-term deals constitutes a good job.
For a very long time, I have made the case that the team that Hendry has put together is not capable of being a playoff contender. I have written numerous posts on why Hendry has not lived up to the high expectations of the Cubs General Manager. Over the last 3-4 years, Hendry has been responsible for way to many bad deals for me to trust his judgment anymore. It all started with the Alfonso Soriano deal back at the beginning of 2007. Inking a “31-year old” to an 8-year deal at roughly $18 million per year over the life of the deal should have been a sign that Hendry was getting desperate. Sure Soriano was the best free agent out there at the time and sure Hendry wanted to blow Soriano and his agents away with a “huge offer you can’t refuse”, but this was a bit much. Hendry followed that up with a $48 million deal for a 30-year Japanese outfielder who had never played in the major leagues and then a $30 million deal for Milton Bradley because the Cubs were too “right-handed” in 2008. The team won an NL-best 97 games in 2008 – do you think they would have won more games if they had a left-handed hitting right fielder instead of Mark DeRosa? Following the 2009 season, with new ownership in place, Hendry’s hands were tied. I’ll give him credit for finally moving Milton Bradley although it took a while. Carlos Silva even turned in a solid season, but then again, when his value was highest around the All-Star Break, Hendry failed to move Silva to a team that needed starting pitching. Even if it meant eating some one the $10 million to him in 2011, Hendry should have made that move. He didn’t and Silva had a bad 2nd half and has since been on the disabled list with a heart issue. During the off-season, Hendry also put a lot of energy into signing Matt Capps as a veteran right-handed reliever in the bullpen. But when the Nationals told Capps that he would be their closer, he jumped at the chance and left Hendry grasping at straws. Because of that gaffe (keeping his eggs all in one basket and hoping), Hendry’s Cubs team started the season with 4 rookies in the bullpen. And with typical injury issues and typical rookie inconsistencies, this was a recipe for disaster. Hendry always seems to be several steps behind these days, and when you’re trying desperately not to lose 90 games this season, you can’t even afford to be 1 step behind.
So while my concerns clearly don’t seem to be concerns of Tom Ricketts, I really hope he decides to take a closer look at Hendry’s job performance this off-season. And I really hope that Ricketts plays a large role in the hiring of the new Cubs manager. And while the new skipper won’t (can’t with the current roster assembled by Hendry) lead the Cubs to a World Series title in 2011, the new skipper will get to lay the groundwork for what kind of team he expects to lead for the next 5-10 years. So it is a big decision.
Today, Randy Wells will take on R.A. Dickey and the Mets at Wrigley Field. Wells is just 6-12 on the season with a 4.50 ERA. He did pitch 6 great innings against the Reds in Cincinnati last Saturday for his 1st win since July 23rd, so he is looking to build off of that good outing and finish strong in 2010.
Posted on 05 April 2010 by Lou
The Ricketts Family – the Cubs new owners – are jacked up for today’s Cubs opener against the Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta. Tom Ricketts had this to say about his 1st opening day — “It’s just great to be here, I’m very excited. To have the 1st game of the season on a beautiful day in a beautiful stadium, it’s really exciting. We’re looking forward to doing a lot of these…I’m not nervous, I’m just excited. I don’t have a lot to do except watch and cheer today.”
Unfortunately, it has not been a great start to the 2010 MLB schedule for the Cubs. Starter Carlos Zambrano gave up 8 ER on 6 hits and 2 walks in just 1 1/3 innings pitched. Not good – the Cubs continue to trail the Braves 8-5 in the 6th inning. We’ll have a full report for you 1st thing on Tuesday morning…
Posted on 12 February 2010 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs have been working on a few “upgrades” for the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field this winter. Of the long list of things, my favorite one is the improvement of the rest rooms on the lower concourse level of the stadium. The changes should help alleviate lines by creating more useful space for patrons. I just hope they don’t eliminate the urinal “troughs”!
The most interesting change is the addition of a new season ticket area called the Executive Club. The Executive Club is located down the left-field line where the Cubs have demolished 6 suites and renovated them into an exclusive season ticket holder club. The cost is $24,300 per season ticket and the Cubs plan to sell 71 season tickets to the Executive Club. Even with food and drink included, the $300 per game price seems a bit expensive, but I guess there are businesses and individuals who are willing to fork over that kind of cash. The season ticket includes the 81 home games at Wrigley Field as well as any post-season games and other entertainment events, like concerts.
The other interesting change is the addition of a batting cage under the right field bleachers. Fans will get to watch their favorites Cubs practice with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo through a 1-way glass window. Being able to walk under there the last few years was such a big hit that the Cubs decided to expand the capabilities in this manner as well with the batting cage.
Marketing Director Wally Hayward has also said that the team is working on new advertising endeavors for 2010. The back of the left-field bleachers still needs a sponsor and the team has discussed selling sponsorship for the 2 on-deck circles on the field. In addition to having hosting numerous concerts and the NHL’s Winter Classic, Hayward and his staff are exploring the opportunity to bring a college football game to Wrigley Field. Rumors have it that local schools Illinois and Northwestern could make an appearance at Wrigley Field this November – that would be pretty sweet.
Sounds like some interesting moves by Hayward and the Ricketts Family. I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more news about some of those innovative ideas from Cubs Management in the coming years…
Posted on 31 January 2010 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs have decided to keep their Spring Training home in Mesa, Arizona. Once Mesa city officials unanimously approved a plan for the new and improved “Wrigleyville West”, Cubs officials jumped at the bit and gave the city the exclusive right to get the deal done. The development will include commercial properties, a shopping district and hotels and could occupy as much as 100 acres in the Phoenix suburb. The $84 million complex will also be the site of a brand new, state-of-the-art 15,000-seat ballpark.
The Naples, Florida bid to bring the Cubs to the Grapefruit League on the east coast in Florida is on hold for now.
I must say I am a little surprised by the decision. I know the Ricketts Family has ties in Florida, so Mesa must have made a great proposal to keep the Cubs in Arizona. It also shows the Cubs commitment to the area for all of the great things they have done for the Cubs over the last 57 years.
Posted on 14 January 2010 by Lou
A decision as to whether the Cubs play future spring training games in Mesa, Arizona or in Naples, Florida could come as early as next week. The investment group trying to lure the Chicago Cubs to Naples consists of Chicago-based Esmark Inc. and Naples-based Fifth Avenue Advisors. The group held a press conference today to highlight the numerous local and state benefits related to a Cubs move east.
As the top draw in the Cactus League, the Cubs bring in an estimated $52 million in revenue to the State of Arizona. Compare that with the approximate $24 million in revenue that out-of-state Red Sox fans bring into Florida during spring training and you can see why Florida would love to have the Cubs. If you throw in the proposed Wrigley Village that private investors would build up around the Cubs complex, the Cubs revenue impact in and around Naples would be a year-round affair. That means good things for all residents of the state of Florida. The other good news for area residents – no county sales tax or property tax would go towards funding the new Cubs facility. All funding to build the complex would come from private sources and from fees paid by out-of-state tourists and state funds that have already been set aside for the Florida baseball industry.
This is pretty exciting stuff. And it has come a long way since we first reported on the potential move way back in November. Could the Cubs make an announcement at this weekend’s Cubs Convention? We’ll keep you posted as soon we hear anything…
Posted on 21 December 2009 by Lou
After a brief delay, “The Rink at Wrigley” is officially open. In attendance – Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Starting Pitcher Ryan Dempster, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita & 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney. Dempster “threw out the 1st pitch” to Mikita and later skated on the ice with plenty of Cubs fans and skating enthusiasts.
The Rink at Wrigley is open 7 days a week. Admissions is $10 for adults and just $6 for children. Skate rentals are available and there is even a Zamboni to help clear the ice after each session. But with the recent trade of Milton Bradley to Seattle, it doesn’t look like the Cubs will be asking Bradley to drive the Zamboni anytime soon. Boo-hoo…
Posted on 17 December 2009 by Lou
Boo-Hoo – the Chicago Cubs had to delay the opening of the new ice skating rink on Wrigley Field property until Saturday December 15th because of inclement weather. What a tragedy!
There will actually be an “Opening Ceremony” for the new ice skating rink on Saturday that is scheduled to start at 11:00AM. Gimme a break!
Ryan Dempster will throw out the ceremonial “first pitch” to “christen” the rink. Alderman Tom Tunney and Tom and Laura Ricketts are scheduled to be on hand for the festivities as well. In addition to being able to skate on the rink, most people really want to be there to see the much-heralded performance by the Starlights Synchronized Skating organization – if you’ve never seen one of their performances, you haven’t lived…
Good job Crane and the Cubs brass – forget about making improvements to a disastrous performance in 2009. Let’s focus on bringing in some revenue from the ice skating rink and taking out the troughs in the mens’ bathrooms to put in state of the art pissers…
Posted on 10 December 2009 by Lou
Cubs GM Jim Hendry had 1 thing to do at the Winter Meetings this week – move Milton Bradley – even if it meant eating some of the $21 million owed to him over the next 2 seasons. Did he accomplish that? Of course not. This guy really has to go.
Look at his quotes: “I thought there would be more trading. I hoped there would be, obviously, for us. I talked to a few guys, and they felt like they were going to make a deal in the next couple of days… For us, obviously, we would’ve loved to have made one here, but I don’t think it’ll be a detriment. I think we’ll make a deal or two before the holidays. It was a little slower pace and not as much action as I think all of us who sit in our seats would’ve liked.”
And later: “Right now, it seems like a lot more free agents are getting signed in January, and this year seems to be one of them… I think there will be opportunities to get a right fit in the outfield before we go to Spring Training.”
Ya think?! What does this guy get paid for, other than to make bad deals that cripple the organization for the next 3-4 years? This is a joke. He can’t even accomplish the one essential thing that the Cubs need for 2010 – to move the tempermental and overrated Milton Bradley. Something needs to give here. I really hope the Ricketts Family closely assesses Hendry’s capabilities as a GM during the 2010 MLB season. If we don’t see marked improvement and creativity, a change needs to be made…
Posted on 07 December 2009 by Lou
Good things come to those who wait – Chicago Cubs promoted Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg to the Manager of the club’s Triple A Iowa ball club. The 2nd base Cubs legend replaced Bobby Dickerson at the helm – Dickerson took a position within the Baltimore Orioles organization to run their Latin American scouting.
Sandberg has been a manager in the Cubs minor league organization for the past 3 seasons, but he has made it clear that he has aspirations to be a Major League Manager some day. Sandberg guided the Class A Peoria Chiefs to a tie for 1st place in 2007 and he also led the Double A Tennessee squad to the playoffs in 2009. Tennessee lost the league championship 3 games to 1.
Dickerson led the Iowa club to a .500 record at 72-72. The team finished in 3rd place in the Northern Division.
With Lou Pinella’s contract expiring after 2010, it makes you wonder if this could be one final piece to the managing puzzle for Sandberg before he gets promoted to captain the major league team at Wrigley Field in 2011. Pinella never really showed his “wild side” in 2009, as his ball club played like crap for most of the season. Has Pinella lost his drive? Is it time to make a change and bring in some younger, fiery blood like Sandberg? While I like Pinella and think he has done a great job with a so-so squad, I would not be opposed to a change. Let the Ricketts Family get 1 year under their belt in 2010, and then they will need to decide what they want to do with their GM (Jim Hendry) and Manager (Pinella). Hendry has mortgaged the team for years to come as we have discussed so often and left the team with little flexibility to try to add good talent without subtracting first. When teams know that your hands are tied, it’s hard to do anything productive. How cool would it be if the Ricketts Family opted to go with a new GM and Manager in 2011 and then the team ended up winning the whole damn thing that October. Wishful thinking, huh?!