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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Friday, December 20, 2019

Being cheap is not a plan

I think, after the way this offseason has gone and reading this and this that I think I’m ready to state that I believe the Cubs main - and maybe only - goal this offseason is to get under the luxury tax.  They will, and are already trying to, spin it as a reset or restocking so they don’t fall off a cliff after 2021 and all the FAs.  They are using this past season’s failure as an excuse to not seriously invest any more into this version of the team, and an excuse for why they’ll end up trading someone like Bryant or Contreras. 

The Cubs have spent a lot of money the last few years, that’s true.  They also saved a lot during the rebuild - which I was fine with at the time, and still am - but they’ve always used the carrot of even more future spending (more money from the remodel, more endorsements, more money from their own network, etc) and every single time they walk it back later on.  I realize that the Ricketts - like virtually every other owner in every sport - are trying to make as much money as possible from the team even though they’re absolutely swimming in money already and even the more excessive luxury tax penalties wouldn’t dent their net worth.  So I don’t think I feel like they “owe” me to spend more on the team, but I absolutely reserve the right to be absolutely furious when this will likely be the second year in a row that the team refuses to address obvious holes with just cash. 

Of course, Theo and the FO deserve plenty of blame for the Cubs being in this situation.  They absolutely nailed the first part of their plan, and have slowly been undermining the continued excellence part of it.  I don’t really feel the need to rehash any individual move*, but in total they’ve done more good than bad although it appears they’ve been trying to even that out the last few years.  I don’t know if they hamstrung themselves with their poor moves and had the rug pulled out from under them on expected ability to spend (either to keep adding or to correct prior mistakes).  I was pretty strongly against making any sort of FO change when we were going through the end of season collapse, but if the Ricketts don’t trust them to spend their money maybe that’s a vote of no confidence and the Cubs would be better off long term with a new direction. 

I hope everyone enjoys super utility guy Hernan Perez, who’s really just another version of Descalso, and that’s just more bad money after bad. 

*Even though the most obvious and painful one is the Torres/Chapman one that I am still on some level ok with because of the 2016 title.  YMMV

Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: December 20, 2019 at 11:45 AM | 110 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: February 17, 2020 at 11:02 AM (#5924852)
ZIPS top 100 prospects:

14. Amaya!
38. Davis
53. Nico
58. Cory Abbott

FG's top prospects (non--ZIPS division)

46. Nico
50. Davis
65. Amaya
114. Marquez

Farm system has seemed to have made some strides the last year.
   102. Take a Dictation from Zonk Posted: March 31, 2020 at 09:20 AM (#5935178)
Since I imagine everyone is really sad about missing....

How I provide free tutorials on how Theo and Jed should fix the Cubs using my OOTP canvas...

I am extending this special invite to follow along as I wheel and deal the Cubs to a dynasty restart! This is your chance to get in on the ground floor of genius... you can see how I effectively swapped out Yu Darvish and his bloated contract for Chris Archer... how I foisted the rotting carcass of Descalso onto the Giants (for the cheaper rotting carcass of Alex Dickerson)... Watch as I ponder trading Willy to the DBacks for Robbie Ray + Daulton Varsho... Gaze in wonder as I pocket spare change from every team for minor league chaff... Gape in amazement as I sign 100s of minor league FAs for trade chits....
   103. Ron J Posted: March 31, 2020 at 09:35 AM (#5935182)
#102 I kinda miss the days when you could just add one more piece of garbage until the AI agreed to the deal.

You did need a lot of players though.
   104. Take a Dictation from Zonk Posted: March 31, 2020 at 10:09 AM (#5935192)
#102 I kinda miss the days when you could just add one more piece of garbage until the AI agreed to the deal.

The trade AI is much better now, I think.... The AI also no longer gifts away prospects on waivers. Still some black holes, though - for example, the Archer trade to the Pirates? The only way I could make it work was by agreeing to take on Colin Moran... Now, Moran is on the slow train to one-time-3B-prospect irrelevance, but he's making the MLB minimum and even has an option year left. Maybe he ran over Nutting's dog or something.

FWIW, I've also been doing a sort of stream of consciousness review of the new version - ordinarily, I just autobuy for the new roster packs... but for folks who like the GM angle, I think this is the first version in a while that has some nifty new toys. Substantial enhancements to the "Scouting" mechanism - individual players now have "scouting accuracy" metrics, which presumably, get better if you task your scout to look at individual players. Draft classes are now made available in advance, years out (so - I can see the potential 2023 draft class, but right now - it's just got a couple 15 yo wunderkinds... 2022 is fuller, and so on). There is also this "scout focus" list that I'm still figuring out. Finally, while the UI is the same - I think they've also made some significant upgrades for those who do a lot of "player search" and "shortlists". Many of the ones I had to manually create are now out of the box available with filters integrated.... and other nice things - like - the top 20/50/100/200 prospects now have a player profile expansion inline, so it's no longer a click to new page.

Anyway... just something to pass the lockdown time. I'm secretly hoping Walt will jaunt over and do deep analyses of my trades :-)... The link above is to the misfit toys Discord - and due to the value of this endeavor/threats to spam the main OTP thread, the channel is... well... fairly easy to spot!
   105. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: March 31, 2020 at 11:43 AM (#5935215)
you can see how I effectively swapped out Yu Darvish and his bloated contract for Chris Archer.

So there's a luxury tax you're also trying to save in your virtual world?
   106. Take a Dictation from Zonk Posted: March 31, 2020 at 12:07 PM (#5935225)
you can see how I effectively swapped out Yu Darvish and his bloated contract for Chris Archer.

So there's a luxury tax you're also trying to save in your virtual world?

Heh, no.... but I like to max out both my Player Development budget and my scouting budget.... which does kind of function as a de facto salary cap - at least, in year 1. OOTPers debate diminishing returns on actually maxing them out (the CW is that 2X the league baseline is sufficient... max is 3X)- but I'm a believer in both because I make a point to target professional service time.

The 2020 edition has the Cubs with about 5m to spare in budget room... but - I need to find 31m in space in order to max out both player development and scouting budgets, plus stay over my draft slot allocation and max out INTL FA budgeting.

That said, there is a luxury tax in the game's financial engine... but it gets applied on revenue side, not payroll side...
   107. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: May 15, 2020 at 11:10 AM (#5950764)
Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine

Tom Ricketts told season ticket holders that 70 percent of the Cubs revenue comes from game day operations / ticket sales/ fans in the stands. He went on to say with half the season gone 15 percent of gross revenues would be the take with no fans.

BULL. #######. ####.

A more...reasoned response:
Chris Towers @CTowersCBS

Forbes had the Cubs making ~45% of their total revenue off gate, higher than league average.

But if the Forbes numbers are anywhere close to correct, the Cubs would have to get 25% of their revenue from in-game revenue not related to tickets, vs. ~9% for the rest of the league.

Chris Towers @CTowersCBS

For that 70% number to be correct (again, assuming Forbes numbers are in the right ballpark, at least), it would mean the cubs make less money from national tv, local tv, sponsorships, etc. than the Marlins do.

Which ... seems unlikely!

Regardless, this pandemic is absolutely going to be the cover the Ricketts use to trade everyone this offseason and "reset" the payroll and rebuild/restock/whatever.
   108. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: June 03, 2020 at 01:40 PM (#5955134)
"Here's something I hope baseball fans understand," Ricketts said. "Most baseball owners don't take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.

"The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it's all sitting in a pile we've collected over the years. Well, it isn't. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole."

"The scale of losses across the league is biblical," Ricketts said. "The timing of the work stoppage, the inability to play was right before the season started. We're looking at 30 teams with zero revenue. To cover the losses, all teams have gone out and borrowed. There's no other way to do it in the short run. In the long run, we may be able to sell equity to cover some of our losses but that's in the long run.

"Who would invest at the moment?"

"There are scenarios where not playing at all can be a better financial option, but we're not looking at that," Ricketts said. "We want to play. We want to get back on the field. ... I'm not aware of any owners that don't want to play. We just want to get back on the field in a way that doesn't make this season financially worse for us."

The Cubs have a new television network, which still isn't being carried by the largest cable provider in the Chicago area. Missing an entire season has even bigger implications for them.

The fact that franchise values are extremely high doesn't answer the question of liquidity for teams. The Cubs employ 600 people with an additional 2,700 part-time employees. They say 70% of their revenue comes from the game-day experience with fans in the stands. Now they're hoping to recoup two-thirds of what's left -- if an equitable deal with the players can be struck.

"The main reason it's at 70% is we do so well with attendance," Ricketts stated. "A lot of clubs have more trouble selling their tickets. A larger percentage of our revenue is just tickets.

"We're hoping we can get 20% of our total revenue this year."

The Ricketts family will always be the owners that ended the title drought and updated Wrigley, but that entire lying family can #### right off for all I care.
   109. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: June 16, 2020 at 11:50 AM (#5957548)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales

From Cubs historian Ed Hartig: Monday marked the 259th consecutive day without Cubs baseball - longest stretch without a Cubs game since the team began play in the National League in 1876.

Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales

Only longer stretch in franchise history was 925 days when the Cubs (then the White Stockings) played in the National Association. The great Chicago fire of 1871 forced the team to skip the 1872 and 1873 seasons, returning in 1874.

The Ricketts are absolutely one of the hard line owners here, trying to squeeze every penny possible out of the players, negotiating in bad faith, and trying to blame it all on the players. 100% without a doubt, and I bet they wouldn't care if the season were cancelled.
   110. Moses Taylor loves a good maim Posted: July 03, 2020 at 01:15 PM (#5960876)
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale

LA #Angels manager Joe Maddon: "The person that opts out is the person who doesn’t want to follow the protocols at any risk. If you in your heart of hearts don’t believe you can do this, you're the person who should opt out.''


I don't miss that part of Maddon.

EDIT: That's just a bad tweet it appears. Maddon's actually not being a blockhead here as that's clear in the much larger quote.
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