Day Two of the 2012 Cubs Convention … The Cubs Newest Hall of Famer, Scouting and Changes to Wrigley Field

The other sessions that were attended on Saturday include Ron Santo: Beyond the Game, The Scouting Formula and Meet Cubs Business Management.

The Ron Santo tribute was one again heartfelt but rightly focused more on his playing career. Ron Santo deserved to be elected to Hall of Fame long before last December … the numbers he put up on the field back up that statement.

The Cubs’ new regime is going to rely on scouting and player development to build an organization with sustained success. The Jason McLeod session was one of the more interesting hours of the first two days of the convention.

As for the business side, there are changes happening at Wrigley Field that include the addition of a 70-foot LED board beyond the basket in the right field bleachers.

Ron Santo
Pat Hughes led a panel that consisted of Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, Vicki Santo and Ron Santo, Jr. to discuss Ron Santo’s election into the Hall of Fame and how he would have reacted when he found out he was finally going to be enshrined.

In front of a standing room crowd in the Grand Ballroom, those closest to Santo shared stories of the Cubs’ legend … and newest Hall of Famer.

Ron’s wife, Vicki, thinks he would have been elated and she knows that is how the family feels because Ronnie deserved to be in the Hall of Fame. Ron, Jr. said the first thing that came to mind when he found out was “finally”. He has happy for his father’s legacy that he was finally elected.

Billy Williams said, “Ron Santo, Hall of Famer. That sounds pretty good doesn’t it?” Williams and Santo played the most games together than any other teammates in the history of the game and Williams wonders how he did it (with the diabetes).

Williams was happy that he could be in Dallas for the announcement. He said he knows Ron is enjoying it right now but he did not click his heals, he pumped his fist when he found out.

Randy Hundley thinks it was best that Ron was elected after he had passed away … because he would have had a heart attack when he found out.

Pat Hughes thinks Ronnie would have been happier than anyone else that has ever been elected into the Hall of Fame.

Billy Williams pointed out that this is the ultimate award a player can receive after he’s done playing the game. Williams said the hall is special, that is where those baseball cards come to life.

Williams described the era in which he and Santo played as the ‘Golden Era of Baseball’. He pointed out all of the talent and future Hall of Famers that played from the late 50’s, through the 60’s and into the early 70’s and for Santo to put up the numbers he did playing at 80 percent a majority of the time because of the diabetes was remarkable.

The Scouting Formula
The Cubs’ new regime has emphasized a commitment to scouting and player development is vital to building a foundation for sustained success.

Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod led a panel featuring Oneri Fleita, Tim Wilken and Joe Bohringer on Saturday afternoon to discuss the importance of scouting to an organization.

Alex Suarez led the extensive and impressive discussion.

After everyone’s resume was read, Tim Wilken pointed out the most important thing right now for the Cubs’ organization is that we all get on the same page, put this all together so we can start competing for a division title.

Both McLeod and Bohringer are glad to be with the Cubs but described the job ahead of them as possibly the biggest challenge in North American sports. So put it simply, they are going to do the best they can to find the best players possible in order to build a winner in Chicago.

‘Moneyball’ caused a ripple throughout the industry. The movie had good entertainment value according to McLeod. But what is important for the Cubs right now is to have a process that they believe in to help make the right decisions on players … same as they had in Boston.

Tim Wilken looks for arm speed, arm angels and body control in young pitchers as well as their aptitude. A pitcher with good body control can repeat their delivery, be more consistent and throw more strikes. The last thing is a pitcher or player’s make-up.

Area scouts start developing relationships with players as time goes in the process of scouting that player. As the relationship develops that allows the area scout to learn about the player’s make-up. In amateur ball, a player might only play three to four games a week, once he makes it to pro ball he is playing every day. That is where the aptitude and make-up kick in.

As for what the Cubs look for in a hitter, Wilken said that has changed over the last three to four years with the Cubs. They are now looking for players that make consistent, good hard contact.

Joe Bohringer discussed the process that took place before the Cubs traded for Travis Wood. They used information from 21 different people. Bohringer read every one of them to make sure they were making the best decision possible.

The further away a player is from the big leagues the harder it is on scouts. The most important thing a scout must keep in mind is that he is going to be wrong a lot. At the end of the day, they are trying to predict the future.

Jason McLeod was extremely complimentary of Tim Wilken and wanted to make sure everyone understands how good Wilken is and what he is done in the industry. McLeod said that Wilken is truly one of the moguls of scouting. He has always appreciated Wilken and has a long history with him on the road. Wilken made a big impact on McLeod’s career

The Chicago Cubs have finally entered the information age.

Meet Cubs Business Management
Crane Kenney and his staff discussed the changes in and around Wrigley Field during the final session of the day. Kenney was joined by Wally Hayward, Mike Lufrano, Carl Rice, Colin Faulkner, Alex Sugarman and Jahaan Blake.

The biggest news to come out of the session is the changes being made to the right field corner of Wrigley Field. The Cubs announced the addition of the Budweiser Patio to the right field section of the Budweiser Bleachers for the 2012 season. The Budweiser Patio, with a standing room capacity of 150, will include LED signage with the capability to display pertinent game information such as pitch count, player pictures and statistics.

The change is beyond the basket in right field and will not change the height of the corner. The Cubs removed three sections of the bleachers to install the 70-foot LED and three-tier seating. The changes will not impact the home run distance and did not disturb the brick wall, ivy or basket.


Click on Image to Enlarge

The Cubs also announced during the session they are going to experiment with dynamic pricing in Budweiser Bleachers in 2012. The single-game ticket price will grow over time as inventory decreases.

After the session, I spent a few minutes with Crane Kenney and asked him about the team’s plans to honor more of the Cubs’ storied past, especially prior to 1945. The Cubs are planning to honor those players, including Phil Cavarretta, in the very near future.

Notes from Day Two

  • Theo Epstein revealed Saturday morning that Kevin Towers is his mentor.
  • One of the most underrated players in the Cubs’ system is Jeff Beliveau according to Epstein. The Cubs think he will contribute in a big way this season.
  • The Cubs are planning two social media days at Wrigley Field but those dates have not been determined.
  • When the renovations to Wrigley begin, the Cubs are looking at restoring the old ballpark back to what it looked like in 1936 … the height of Wrigley Field according to one historian.

2012 Cubs Convention

Day One of the 2012 Cubs Convention … Welcome to Theo Fest
Day Two of the 2012 Cubs Convention … Behind the Scenes with Theo Epstein
Day Two of the 2012 Cubs Convention … Meet Cubs Baseball Management and the Coaches’ Den

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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