Front Office Evaluating All Aspects of the Organization and Other Cubs News

Theo Epstein met with the beat writers prior to Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee and discussed multiple topics in length, including Dale Sveum and his coaching staff.

From all indications, Dale Sveum’s job for next season appears to be safe. Dale Sveum is under contract for one more year and has an option for 2015. Epstein said on Tuesday that all aspects of the organization, including Sveum, will be evaluated at the end of the season. Epstein said the front office will also take a look at the decisions they made during the year.

According to multiple reports, Sveum is not on the hot seat and the job he has done will not be judged on wins and losses. Epstein added that Sveum has done a “remarkable” job of keeping the clubhouse together over the last two seasons. Epstein did not say that Sveum would be back next year but there are “no alarm bells to ring.”

Theo Epstein and a majority of the front office are in Milwaukee for their end of the year meetings with Dale Sveum and the coaching staff according to the Sun-Times.

Javier Baez

Theo Epstein addressed the team’s plans for Javier Baez on Tuesday. Epstein confirmed that Baez will see playing time at both second and third base during the Arizona Fall League.

Javier Baez is ticketed to begin next season at the Triple-A level and the team will leave him at shortstop, at least to start out next year. As has been reported, Baez has the ability to stick at short and be successful at the position at the Major League level.

Epstein indicated on Tuesday, “If we’re fortunate to get to that point in time where Baez is pounding on that door and Castro is healthy, then we will look to move Baez around so he can perform at other positions.” Epstein thinks Baez has “tremendous baseball instincts” and can handle being moved to another position in the field.

The Bullpen

Theo Epstein took responsibility for the “bullpen that didn’t perform well” at the beginning of the season and pointed out that he feels the pen has shown steady improvement this year.

Epstein did not rule out bringing back free-agent-to-be Kevin Gregg to close out games next season but also indicated that Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm could be options for the ninth inning.

Free-Agent Signings

Theo Epstein reiterated on Tuesday that the Cubs are “unlikely to make big splashes in the big-money free-agent market this winter.” Epstein explained that the team is “not going to have the ability to add like multiple impact pieces in free agency.”

Epstein indicated the Cubs are “going to have to take a multi-dimensional approach to changing things.”

The Sun-Times reported that the Cubs are preparing for another losing season in 2014 and pointed to the team not being able to add the necessary revenue from the stalled Wrigley Restoration project as one of the main reasons. Theo Epstein admitted as much on MLB Network Radio several weeks back. The Ricketts family is not willing to move forward with the restoration project until they are sure the rooftop club owners will not pursue legal action to protect their views of Wrigley Field.

Josh Vitters

Josh Vitters’ days as an everyday third baseman appear to be over, at least for now. According to reports, the Cubs have scraped the idea of Vitters’ playing third base and he will be moved to left field. Theo Epstein confirmed on Tuesday that Josh Vitters will not play ball this winter. The Cubs would like to see Vitters report to Spring Training “ready to re-establish himself and force himself into the mix” as one of the Cubs’ right handed hitting outfielders.

Brett Jackson

It appears that Brett Jackson will also take the winter off while trying to recover from the various injuries that derailed his season. Theo Epstein said on Tuesday that Jackson may follow the same program as Josh Vitters this off-season.

News and Notes

According to multiple reports, Albert Almora’s rehab from a groin injury that cut his season short is going well. Almora is healthy and on track to be ready for the start Arizona Fall League.

Jeff Samardzija and David Bell downplayed their discussion in the dugout on Tuesday night.

Jorge Soler is back to “doing baseball activities” and preparing for the AFL according to a report from Carrie Muskat. Soler is recovering from a stress fracture of his left tibia.

Dale Sveum discussed Starlin Castro’s improved defense with ESPN Chicago.

The Cubs do not see Anthony Rizzo as an “all or nothing” hitter and they feel he will hit for a respectable average.

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  • TheWrongGuy

    Great information and again great report, Neil. THANKS!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks man.

      • SuzyS

        As Patrick Swayze said, “Ditto”!

        • CubbyDenCritic

          “Ditto”?…you know what Harvey Korman says about people who say “Ditto”?….LOL

  • K_Gripp

    “The Sun-Times reported
    that the Cubs are preparing for another losing season in 2014 and
    pointed to the team not being able to add the necessary revenue from the
    stalled Wrigley Restoration project as one of the main reasons.”

    The delayed rehab is a nice excuse but the FO had no intention of putting a winner on the field next year. Next year will be the same as the past two. Watching AA box scores daily, trading away anything of value in July, rooting against the Cubs in September to get the higher draft pick. Its a great time to be a Cubs fan!

    Whatever happened to the original Theo Mantra that they were going to build the organization from the bottom up and in the meantime put a competitive team on the field. It seems to me that the ownership does not want to win a WS until the Wrigley restoration is completed. That goal post keeps getting moved further and further back.

    I love what the Cubs are doing with the farm system and I know it will pay off down the road but it is ridiculously hard to be a Cubs fan right now and watch the current product on the field on a daily basis.

    • GaryLeeT

      I only run a small business, and not a sports franchise, but as a person who’s constantly looking to improve the bottom line, I just don’t see how the savings in payroll will make up for the lost revenue from fielding another 90+ loss team. I look to the Blackhawks as a sports franchise business model, that makes sense to me.

      • J Daniel

        That is a remarkable statement … the Blackhawks are model … well that didn’t happen until Bill died. But it appears to me they are printing money on Madison street.

        • bpot92

          Actually, they are a model, but it relates to the Cubs even more. The hawks actually LOSE money annually. They say they won’t make a profit for 2 more years. The reason they can cover player salaries and coaches is because Wirtz uses his other businesses to cover the Hawks. They have on average, 65 million in player salaries and 20 million in coaching staff. Not to mention almost 100 non-player employees. With the playoffs, they added about 15 extra million and tv and sponsor revenue make up about 25 million a year. This leads to a net loss overall so far since ticket prices are below average based off Locations, Success, and Fan Demand.

          They are going to raise ticket about 16% to an average of 70.00 a ticket. But it still won’t cover it.

          Basically Rocky Wirtz has a quote saying he knows this is a non-elastic business and that they don’t care that they COULD raise prices by almost 100% (Stub hub tickets can sometimes run double from what the Hawks sell them for) .

          Ricketts owes a lot of money, but he won’t dip into other revenue sources to pay for a good team right now. THe hawks signed Brian Cambell when they needed a splash. The Cubs need someone soon. Without having Rickett’s balance sheet and profit sheet of all his businesses and without knowing the legal ramifications of certain deals we can’t say its the same situation but it certainly looks like it.

          • Tony_Hall

            So you think Ricketts could spend his way to a good team? We tried that with JH and I would love to win now, but building the franchise from the ground up and having a farm system that is loaded with talent to be able to fill the roster with YOUNG talented players, versus free agency filling the roster with OLDER on the back side of their career players is fine with me. Yes it is taking a few rough years, that could be better if they just kept all the players they have had, but winning 75 games is not going to help this team and trading away short term assets and bringing back younger long term assets is the way to go. Winning extra games in August and September when you are not going to the playoffs versus adding talent in trades is a no brainer.

          • K_Gripp

            It seems to be working for the Dodgers. They made some trades, signed some FA’s, and signed international talent that was MLB ready. Every sign or trade that the Dodgers made the Cubs could have theoretically made as well. Again I ask why being competitive now and building a farm system are mutually exclusive? Please dont tell me that you cant build the farm system unless you are picking in the top 10. The Cardinals haven’t picked in the top 10 since 1998 and their farm system seems to be just fine. There are owners who are committed to putting a winning team on the field regardless of profit and there are owners who are committed to making a profit. I think that Ricketts falls somewhere in the middle on that spectrum but I was hoping for an owner that wanted to put a winning team on the field every year above all else.

          • Tony_Hall

            Completely different situation. Ricketts was required by Zell to keep them as partners to save the Tribune taxes. They also had to maintain a debt load that would allow this to happen. Those debt payments are large. The Dodgers are cash rich, with a huge TV deal already in place. The Cubs are still waiting for one part of their TV deal to expire but it will be around 6 more years before the WGN (Tribune) sweatheart deal is over and they can really go out and have a big market TV deal.

            If Theo had made those trades with the Red Sox, people would have went nuts calling it the stupidest trades ever. What has fast forwarded the Dodgers this year was Hanley becoming Hanley again and Puig being ready far earlier then anyone thought was possible.

            I am so glad that we have an owner who is in this for the long run and is willing to take these years to build an organization the right way and not try and use band aides to make it look better just to keep attendance up. So when people try to say he is about maximizing profits or doesn’t care about winning, I see just the opposite, he is so committed to winning he is rebuilding this franchise, literally from the ground up in the Domincian, Arizona and soon at Wrigley, to go along with the complete turnaround of the farm system. Do you realize that our top prospects were McNutt, BJAX, Vitters, etc 2 years ago, and now they don’t even crack the Top 10.
            So, I don’t see an owner trying to make every penny possible by signing 30 something free agents to make the big league look like it has a chance, but rather an owner willing to take the hit on attendance to do things the right way.

            I am with you on the Wrigley boycott. What I hate is the people who pay their money, knowing what the team is like then complain about it after. If you don’t like the product, don’t buy it.

            Draft – I agree you don’t have to pick in the Top 10, but when the season is not going to end up in the playoffs, trading off short term assets to get long term assets AND improve your drafting spot by winning less games down the stretch, just makes too much sense.

          • bpot92

            No where did I say I was against this rebuild or the way they are doing it. I merely stated that the Hawks don’t make money for Wirtz and he finds other revenue sources to help pay for the team ( his beverage company at the UC) just like Ricketts is trying to do with this renovation deal.

            Also, I did state without seeing the Balance sheet we can’t say its the same situation, and I said when the Hawks needed a Splash…

            All I was trying to say is the Hawks ticket prices are below average since they had a bad team and needed to keep its fans coming. The Cubs prices are still one of the highest in the league, which won’t always give you more profit.

          • 07GreyDigger

            If any of you believe what Wirtz says that they are LOSING money on that team, you’re all crazy.

          • bpot92

            Purely off ticket revenue and sponsor revenue vs cost they did. If you look up the article it states that the other business ( Wirtz beverage company) which operates at the united center makes over 2 billion, so no Wirtz doesn’t end up losing money overall, but the Blackhawks themselves won’t be profitable for two more years.

          • 07GreyDigger

            But this is Wirtz being the source of the article. I know Rocky is revered, but he’s still a Wirtz. They own the building, the alcohol they sell is from them, they make boku dollars from merchandise, I just think its BS they make no money. That’s just Wirtz’s way of justifying the raise in ticket prices so we all agree with him.

          • bpot92

            Well actually he does state his beverage company that does all the food and drink makes 2 billion in gross sales. So Im not saying he should be crying poor. Im saying their ticket prices are still not too high, Id rather pay 70 dollars for a Hawks game than 50 for a Cubs game right now. Tickets are below average according to a texas based evaluator, and Wirtz makes millions of dollars each year. I’m not trying to imply HE’s actually losing money but the team itself has a high payroll (almost at the cap) and a well paid coaching staff with not an amazing sponsor deal, albeit a good one since he owns 20% of Comcast Sports net I believe.

            What I am saying is Wirtz shows us that when the time is right they made a splash with FA and they can take a hit due to payroll in X amount of years because in the long run they maker a profit from things that are tangent to the Team, but not part of the team(i.e. beer and food sales)

          • 07GreyDigger

            But Ricketts doesn’t own anything else besides the team I don’t think. He’s a CEO for an investment bank, but it’s not like he can pull money from the company to fund free agent signings.

            So besides the debt they are paying off the Cubs, he’s also funding a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field out of his own pocket. I’m not sure where all this excess money is supposed to come from.

            Sure, Wirtz spent before the team had it, but Wirtz makes way more money than Ricketts.

          • bpot92

            I understand that, and Im not trying to argue that Ricketts should spen right now, since they are still not ready for that splash. All I’m saying is ticket prices are high, (they made 232 million last year of revenue, and an income of 32 million overall which is the highest in Baseball) and that I hope when, Baez and Hendricks, and all the ones close to being ready have been here and they are about a 75-80 win team, I hope the next offseason he is willing to take a hit to that 32 million income from the Cubs and get the one or two players to put us over the top.

            There isn’t a FA out there this year that will make them WS contenders, so it makes little sense to pay 100 million over 7 years or whatever it will take to get a guy to push us from the bottom to the middle. I was merely stating that Wirtz did it even though he didn’t have to (after his dad set precedent) and I hope that Ricketts spends when the time is right because they are still Billionaires, and technically its the family not just Tom.
            But in the end Im not arguing with you that he should spend since he’s rich, I was just saying Wirtz is spending to make his team marketable and profitable again after almost a decade of horrible teams. The original post was comparing the Hawks and Cubs, which the situation has some similarities and a lot of differences as well. No two scenarios are alike.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I guess I just assumed by all the comments on this thread that you were mad that Ricketts wasn’t spending any money and he should pull magic money out of his butt and spend so we can stop watching them lose.

            I have no doubt when the time is right that Ricketts will spend. If he was willing to spend his own money to renovate Wrigley Field and put up with all the BS from the neighborhood, I think he wants this team to be successful.

          • bpot92

            Hopefully Baez Bryant and others force the Cubs to be buyers next off season or at least be tempted to!

    • cubtex

      well said.

  • SirGladiator

    I think we’ve got the talent to win the Division next year, provided we do what it takes in the off-season to supplement it properly. That’s not just players, that’s coaching as well. We need a new and improved hitting coach, and of course we need to replace Sveum with Girardi. Just those two changes alone would give us a fighting chance at the division, if we added an actual player or two, that would be gravy. I hear that Mujica from the Cards could be available as a closer, that would be pretty sweet to get him, he’s been highly effective. That’s gotta be one of the top priorities, closer, and of course the bullpen generally. Grimm is living up to his name, his results were very grim last night. Gotta really overhaul that pen. Obviously we need some offense too, gotta wait and see who’s available and act accordingly. I think next year is the year, we could…go…all….the….way!

    • Ripsnorter1

      I’m not expecting them to win it all in 2014.

      Currently, the NL Central is the toughest division in MLB.
      Not only will the Cubs have to improve (they are currently 25 games behind
      the Cards, and 24 behind the Pirates, and 22.5 behind the Reds), but in all
      likelihood two of those three teams will need to completely tank next year
      in order for the Cubs to have a prayer for a wild card birth. And if another team, say
      the Nats, actually plays to its potential, then the Cubs’ chances drop even further.
      And if the Diamondbacks make progress…..even longer odds.

      I know that the Cubs slogan is “Wait Until Next Year.” But next year already
      doesn’t look to be a division winner.

      • cubtex

        The “new” Cubs slogan is “Wait til 2016″

    • John_CC

      Replacing the hitting coach and manager will not change a .400 winning team into a .550 team, the winning % it would take to contend in the NL central. Not even close. This exact team with Girardi (or Sandberg) managing this past season would not be 5 games better.

      • TheWrongGuy

        I agree with your statement John to a degree. Replacing the hitting coach and manager wont change the box scores much in any category, winning percentage, BABIP, or RISP hitting.

        I do believe the current coaching staff does need some changes. They are obviously not doing the right coaching for the production on the field. Case in point Castro who has seemingly abandoned the coaching and has improved recently in hitting. As for Rizzo …

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL_-_nZdwyA

        An old video from earlier in the season on Rizzo. You make your decision.

        Bullpen has been horrible ALL season only improvement was removing *cough* Marmol. Hopefully they can put together a better bullpen cause next years rotation is showing now that they can’t go through an opposing line-up more than maybe once. That means the bullpen needs to be better. They have failed most of the season.

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs are doing the obvious move for Vitters: his glove was not good enough
    to make it at 3B in MLB. And with Bryant, Villanueva, and (ahem) Olt, there are better
    options at 3B.

    Now the bad news: his bat isn’t good enough to make it as a LF in MLB.
    And who knows if his LF glove is good enough as well.

    It looks as if Neil is right in saying that Vitters will be the next Jeff Baker: a RH
    bat off of the bench–if he can even hit enough to make it to MLB.

    You really want more out of a #3 pick in the 2007 1st round, if possible.

    • Sonate

      I would like to disagree….but I can’t! I think you’ve got the situation with Vitters pegged!

  • Ripsnorter1

    I hope a winter off for Brett Jackson will result
    in a complete reset of his mind and body.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Yoga class would be great.

    • Eugene Debs

      Give up on Brett Jackson.

  • Ripsnorter1

    2014 will be tough for the Cubs.

    • cubtex

      thank you Nostradamus :)

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Looks like 2014 will be a bad year for me to quit amphetamines.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Matt Weiters & Jason Heyward came after Vitters.

    • Ripsnorter1

      But Casey Weathers was taken at #8–and we had him, too!

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Some Cubs Slogans to think about….
    Cubs Season should be “Olt” to be good in 2014!
    “ABC 20/20 Club” – Almora, Baez & Castro.
    “Wait Until July 31st 2014!”
    “Like a Four Leaf Clover, our #4 Pick will be Lucky”
    “Get on the Cubs Iowa Express and See Our New Talent”
    “Baez is Coming”

  • CubbyDenCritic

    More Cubs Slogans….
    “Chicago Cubs, We Employ the Most Players in Baseball in the Last Two Years”
    “We Accept Tommy John Patients”
    “Our Players Have Time Off in October”
    “We Updated Our Restrooms”
    “See our Players Today, Before Theo Trades Them Tomorrow”

  • PleaseStopLosing

    Since the owners have decided that once again they will NOT be spending money on a few solid free agents…
    I have also made a decision that for the fourth summer in a row I will NOT be spending any of my hard earned money on Cubs tickets to watch a AA baseball team…
    Makes me sick not taking my trips to Wrigley, but a statement needs to be made… Ricketts spends no money… Neither do we.
    I understand building through the farm…yadda yadda yadda… however, in the mean time why cant we spend a few bucks on a couple of actual major league players to be stop gaps and give us a chance.
    We wonder why Castro and Rizzo have horrible seasons… It is because we are ruining their spirit to fight for a win… Ever since either one of them have started playing at Wrigley nobody has tried to do anything besides loose more… Can you imagine how hard you would work to prepare for 2014 during the offseason or your opening day attitude when in September of 2013 while you are still playing that season it has already been announced that 2014 will be another 90-110 loss season… Come on man.

    • K_Gripp

      This will be my 3rd year of the Wrigley Boycott. Unless the FO puts a competitive MLB team on the field next year I will cry watching the cubs from the comfort of my couch.

  • cc002600

    I understand that free agency does not cure all ills, but if the cubs don’t spend money on any big FA’s this winter, their payroll could be in $75M range next year.

    For a big market team, that is pathetic. What about going after this Japanese pitcher ? (Tanaka) He is young, and could be a guy to build around.

  • Brp921

    Is anyone having problems commenting from their desktop or laptop? I can comment from my phone but not from my laptop. There is not even a feed for comments.

    • Ripsnorter1

      No problems for me.

  • Ripsnorter1

    MLBTR says Andrew Bailey, of Theo’s BoSox, is going to be non-tendered.
    That says to me that it is likely he wins up in the Chicago bullpen. He can close,
    he’s been injured, so what more could Theo want?
    I expect Gregg to be let go. Maybe Bailey will be the new closer.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Speaking of Bailey….I’d love to see Bard pitch a few innings in a Cubs uniform.
    When it that going to happen?

  • Rick Barkan

    Notice Theo didn’t say anything about dumb decisions made by Dale. JMO Dale stinks.

    • cubtex

      He did say they would evaluate his game decisions…which have been highly questionable in many circumstances to say the least.

      • TheWrongGuy

        I agree this may be Dale’s last season as manager. Or they remove some of his coaching staff.

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