Rounding Up the Cubs News and Notes

Rounding Up the Cubs News and Notes

The MLB playoffs and Arizona Fall League are in full swing as the Cubs approach the beginning of the third week of their off-season. This time of year is typically quiet for all of the teams not involved in the post-season.

Tom Ricketts emailed his annual letter to season ticket holders late last week and the Cubs announced a change to the front office. Four of the Cubs’ top prospects made another list and the Cubs’ new complex in Arizona is taking shape.

A Message from Tom Ricketts
Tom Ricketts sent out an email to all season-ticket holders on Friday. Here is a full copy of the email.

Dear Season Ticket Holder –

With the 2012 season having drawn to a close, it’s time for all of us at the Chicago Cubs to thank you for your support and provide an update on the progress we’ve made toward building a championship-caliber organization. You are a vital stakeholder to this franchise and an important partner in our transformation.

Despite this year’s results in the standings, we are confident the Chicago Cubs are heading in the right direction. Our players, coaches, management and front office have approached their jobs with professionalism, effort and unity, which has created a winning atmosphere inside the organization. It’s our responsibility to turn that effort into additional wins on the field. Our number one goal is to reward loyal generations of Cubs fans with a World Series and we’re reinvesting every dollar spent by our fans into the franchise to achieve that goal.

To achieve our goal, it was clear the team needed a long-term strategy. Over the past year, we recruited new baseball leadership to create and execute a plan for building a consistently-competitive ballclub. We now have a long-term strategy in place and a baseball organization focused on delivering a championship to Wrigley Field. That team is communicating openly and honestly about implementing a proven model for sustained success.

As part of that strategy, we are developing a core of young players at the major league level. This season provided an opportunity for homegrown and acquired players to gain valuable experience and establish themselves as potential long-term contributors to the club.

Our minor league system improved in 2012, as the Cubs acquired, drafted or signed a significant wave of new talent into the organization. We welcomed a strong 2012 first-year player draft class into the system, building on a franchise-record investment in draft signings in 2011. Many of these players made immediate positive contributions. In fact, five Cubs prospects were included in MLB’s recently-released Top 100 Prospects list; a total topped by only three other teams in the league. A number of our newly-acquired players excelled in both the minor and major leagues and look to contribute further in 2013 and beyond.

We’ve welcomed new talent in the front office as well. Perhaps no operation bears more responsibility for advancing our organizational plan than scouting and player development. After a season of evaluation, our scouting and development teams have been reorganized to procure and develop the best amateur, professional and international talent available. Our scouts and coaches have been equipped with state-of-the-art analysis tools and equipment to enhance the club’s analytical capabilities.

In addition to personnel investments, we’ve made significant upgrades to our facilities. We are currently building a new baseball academy to serve our Latin American players in the Dominican Republic. The facility, open year-round, will span 50 acres with baseball fields, training facilities, player housing and an education center, making it the largest academy in the country. Additionally, we broke ground this season on a new Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz., that will be one of the premier training facilities in baseball, as well as a more enjoyable venue for watching a Spring Training game. We continue to make improvements to Wrigley Field’s facilities for our players and fans, with larger scale investments coming down the road. All of these improvements will enhance your fan experience and bolster the club’s ability to attract and develop elite players throughout the world.

Lastly, we continue to invest in the Chicago community to help deserving children and families. The Cubs and Chicago Cubs Charities will support a team-record $4.5 million of donations to worthwhile nonprofits and programs across Chicagoland this year. We’re honored to support the people and organizations that make our city a great place to work, live and play baseball.

In the end, we are fans and our goal is to win. We’re committed to building an organization you can be proud of and we’re committed to building a champion the right way. This franchise has embarked on a path that will present challenges along the way, but the destination is promising.

We deeply and sincerely appreciate your ongoing support.

Tom Ricketts
Chairman, Chicago Cubs

Online link to email from Tom Ricketts

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the team and the City of Chicago remain at a stalemate on future renovations of Wrigley Field. The landmark status of the old ballyard limits what the Cubs can do to the park but they did receive approval to move the wall behind homeplate that would allow the team to add 56 seats. The Ricketts family has a few smaller projects to complete this off-season but more “maintenance than renovation.”

Cubs Dismiss Traveling Secretary Jimmy Bank
The Cubs made another change to their front office last week. The Cubs fired the team’s longtime traveling secretary, Jimmy Bank. Bank had been with the organization for 20 years and was notified of the decision last Thursday. The Cubs have not named a replacement.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the former director of Baseball Operations, Scott Nelson, who’s position was eliminated at the end of the season, was offered a job as a manager of the team’s baseball complex in Mesa.

Minor League Ball’s Top 50 Hitting Prospects for 2013
John Sickels published his list of the top 50 hitting prospects in the game … and four of the Cubs’ top prospects made the list.

Javier Baez came in at number five behind the likes of Jurickson Profar (Rangers), Oscar Taveras (Cardinals), Wil Myers (Royals) and Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox).

Two additions to the Cubs’ system made over the last year also cracked Sickels list … outfielders Albert Almora (35) and Jorge Soler (36). Dan Vogelbach rounded out the top 50.

Full report from Minor League Ball

Cubs New Spring Training Home
According to a report from KTAR in Arizona, the Cubs’ new spring home is taking shape. The construction on the Cubs facility, which is scheduled to open next year, is moving right along. The new $99 million facility might also become the home of Arizona State University’s baseball team but the Cubs and ASU have not yet reached an agreement. The report indicated ASU is also considering Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the current spring home of the Oakland Athletics.

Oakland has been discussing a possible move to the Cubs’ current facilities with the City of Mesa (Fitch Park and HoHoKam Park) once the Cubs’ new facilities are completed.

News, Notes and Rumors
Anthony Rizzo is part of the Cubs’ young core moving forward, along with the likes of Jeff Samardzija and Starlin Castro. Rizzo talked about a discussion he had with Ryan Zimmerman during the Cubs’ trip to Nationals Park with Comcast SportsNet’s Patrick Mooney.

The Alfonso Soriano trade rumors figure to heat up soon after the conclusion of the World Series. Soriano is coming off a good season and the Cubs could use more players like Soriano in the clubhouse according to the Tribune. The report acknowledged that it would make sense to trade Soriano now while his value is high … that is, if Soriano will waive his no trade rights.

One of the many questions the Cubs must find answer to this winter will be who will man the hot corner in 2013? Theo Epstein said that Josh Vitters will begin next season with the I-Cubs, not the Chicago Cubs. Dale Sveum told the media that Luis Valbuena will be back then there is Ian Stewart, who the Cubs may or may not tender a contract for next year. The list of free agent third basemen is less than desirable and the Cubs could be looking at a player such as Lonnie Chisenhall to fill the vacancy.

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