Day One of the Ricketts Regime

It took two years, six months and twenty-five days but the Chicago Cubs finally have an owner and today is the Ricketts Family first full day at the helm. Tuesday officially ended Tribune Co.’s 28-year run as the owner of the Chicago National League Ball Club … on June 16, 1981 Tribune Co. purchased the Cubs from the Wrigley Family for $20.5 million.

Tom Ricketts will be formally introduced at a press conference Friday at Wrigley Field. WGN TV and CLTV will air the press conference, which begins at 11:00am C.T.

Not to long after the announcement, the rumor mill and other news began surfacing … here is the latest a week before the Cubs’ organizational meetings get underway in Mesa.

Bruce Levine Rumors

In bullet point format … a few tidbits from Bruce Levine:

  • Bruce Levine’s sources have indicated “Ricketts will tell his baseball people at the Cubs’ organization meetings next Wednesday that the minor league system is his No. 1 priority.
  • Mark DeRosa’s return to the Cubs is a possibility … but probably not for more than a one-year deal with an option
  • Levine has heard the Cubs’ payroll will be the same $140 million as it was in 2009
  • Tampa and Toronto are possible destinations for Milton Bradley
  • On trading Bradley … “Jim Hendry is counting on being able to move his contract for another bad contract, NBA style – lateral move.
  • Hendry is doing his best right now to try to reshape the team for the future.
  • Orlando Cabrera could be a one-year “fix” at shortstop, moving Ryan Theriot to second, in order to give Starlin Castro more time in the minors
  • If the Cubs make any major deals this winter, Sean Marshall might be involved. Marshall’s versatility is very valuable.

Vernon Wells

Bruce Levine mentioned the Cubs, Milton Bradley and Vernon Wells in the same context on two occasions Tuesday.

“Tampa is still a viable team, but keep your eye on Toronto, which has money problems and is dying to move outfielder Vernon Wells.”

“The Cubs have talked to Toronto about different scenarios that may include players like Vernon Wells and Bradley.”

Could the Cubs be talking to the Blue Jays about a deal that would send Vernon Wells to the North Side for Milton Bradley?

First, the money is nowhere near equal. The Cubs owe Milton Bradley $21 million over the next two seasons while Vernon Wells is owed $107 million over the next five seasons ($12.5 in 2010, $23 in 2011, $21 in 2012, $21 in 2013 and $21 in 2014. Wells is also owed one more payment of his signing bonus of $8.5 million … he has an opt out clause after the 2011 season). If Jim Hendry was to trade Bradley to the Blue Jays for Wells he would have to receive quite a bit of money in return … or the Cubs would end up paying Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells $197 million over the next five seasons (Soriano is owed $18 per year for the remainder of his contract which ends in 2014).

Vernon Wells turns 31 on December 8 and is coming off a down year to say the least. In 158 games Wells put together a .260/.311/.400/.711 line with 37 doubles, three triples and 15 home runs.

Cubs Florida Bound?

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are using Florida “as a ploy” to get a new, and much-needed, facility in Arizona. Levine, like most, feel the Cubs will not move their Spring Training home to Florida. The Cubs are the number one draw in the Cactus League and Arizona cannot afford to lose the revenue they generate.

The Sun-Times thinks the Cubs “are likely to stay in Mesa despite Florida’s interest” in moving the club’s spring training home.

The Naples Daily News reported on Tuesday night that the group trying to bring the Cubs to Florida has scheduled a news conference for 2:00pm C.T. on Thursday.

Video from Naples Daily News

Video from WGN TV

A tip of the cap to Chuck Divine for the link from the Naples Daily News … any and all tips of news and rumors are welcome. Email the CCOneil@chicagocubsonline.

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija has been medicore in Winter Ball … and Baseball Prospectus wonders how the Cubs can think the Shark will be an effective starter in the big leagues.

It’s almost remarkable that the Cubs still think Samardzija can be an effective starter in the big leagues. He’s made no secret that he wants to return to the rotation, but two late-season starts in the majors were disasters, and now he’s merely holding his own in Mexico, allowing 10 runs and 28 baserunners in 18 innings for the Aguilas. Turning 25 in January, with each passing year, it seems that Samardzija will never graduate from thrower to pitcher, and for most, his ceiling ends at middle reliever.

Other Rumors

  • Mike Ferrin from XM Radio said on Tuesday his sources indicated the Cubs’ payroll for 2010 would increase to around $150 million … and Tom Ricketts is expected to be a hands-on owner.
  • mentioned the Cubs could look at Orlando Hudson to fill their need at second base. As for a solution a shortstop, the Worldwide Leader indicated Jim Hendry could look at Miguel Tejada or J.J. Hardy

From the CCO Inbox

Sully Baseball emailed two links to the CCO that are well worth the read …

Did the Chicago Cubs Inspire the 1919 Black Sox Scandal? Playboy thinks so and asked the CCO to pass it along to our readers.

A Couple of Things

Well, that’s the latest … and I’m sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney