The Rundown: Ricketts Talks Baseball Ops Budget and Dwindling Attendance, Madrigal Hurt Again, Pujols Hits No. 697
“War, children, it’s just a shot away. Love, sister, it’s just a kiss away.” – Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter
Tom Ricketts called the 2022 Cubs “a success” over the weekend, even though they’ve won just six of their last 21 games. They’re 58-82 (.414) and despite three weeks of wretched baseball, Chicago can’t get any closer to improving their draft lottery odds. If that’s the definition of success, the standards have dropped somewhat since the heady days of Joe Maddon and an annual trip to the playoffs.
Ricketts also dropped the company line during what was an impromptu Wrigley Field interview. Success, of course, means not specifically spending on free agency.
“The fact is you can’t buy a championship team in baseball,” the team chairman said. “You have to build it. And that’s what we’re doing. In order to build it, you’ve got to take years where you let young guys get at-bats, give them a chance to prove themselves, and find out who you actually have to build around. And that’s what this year has been all about. And it has been a success.”
Years. He said “years.” And by the way, when did Ricketts become a member of Chicago’s player development and scouting department? Does he sit in meetings with Dan Kantrovitz and Jared Banner? The team chairman sure likes to sound like a subject matter expert. For what it’s worth, Ricketts sounds like he has a little Jerry Krause in him, too.
The Dodgers just clinched a spot in this year’s playoffs, the 10th consecutive year they’ve done so. They’re the gold standard of baseball and the blueprint for big market teams. It would be nice if the Cubs had an ownership team that treated Chicago as the country’s third-largest market. The Cubs are currently 14th in payroll according to Sportrac and every single team above them is fighting for a postseason berth.
I suppose that makes the organization an exemplar of mediocrity. Look, I’m all for the youth movement and I’m just as excited as the next fan when it comes to the waves of talent that will hit the bigs in the next three seasons. Still, minor leaguers are no guarantee, but if that’s going to be the foundation, proven veterans are needed to create support.
Ricketts is starting to remind me of Harvey “Two-Face” Dent. Didn’t he just say about a month ago that the Cubs are prepared to be very active in free agency? I mean, in the same conversation he made the following two statements:
- “[We’re] obviously following a similar process or strategy as we did 10 years ago. Having done it once, and largely with the same people, gives me a lot of confidence that we’ll do it the right way again.”
- “It is about building the next winning team. Not about what happened in the past.”
Am I reading that incorrectly or does Ricketts sound like he’s mastered deception so well he even fools himself? At any rate, I can’t tell if he means the Cubs will spend or not, so I suppose we will all just have to wait.
In the meantime, Wrigley Field is at about half capacity or less for every game. I suppose that’s perfect if you’re obsessed with duality.
Cubs News & Notes
- Ricketts said he’s not that worried about dwindling attendance. “Obviously, we’re going to have higher attendance when we’re winning in September and when we’re contending.”
- Wade Miley pitched solidly yesterday, but it wasn’t enough as the Giants tipped the Cubs 4-2.
- It was thought that Drew Smyly and the Cubs had a mutual option for 2023, but that may not be the case.
- Nick Madrigal said that this offseason will be “the biggest of his career.” I think he meant “most important.”
- Madrigal understands he has a lot to prove to the organization, but he’s going to have a tough time doing that while Jed Hoyer is perusing all of the infield free agents this winter.
- Hayden Wesneski is not infallible, apparently. Into each life, a little rain must fall.
- Franmil Reyes channeled his innermost Whitney Houston in last night’s nationally televised game. The man has some serious chops. Not really.
- Seiya Suzuki has been red-hot this month, and he indicated it’s the start of big things to come.
- Evan broke down the 2023 rules changes on Friday, each designed to increase the pace of play, in case you missed it.
Odds & Sods
The Bears are off to a good start and the offense sure knows how to have a little fun after an upset win played in a monsoon.
SLIDING TO VICTORY! @ChicagoBears pic.twitter.com/mruoqtVrkC
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Anger and agony are better than misery. Trust me, I’ve got a plan. When the lights go up, you’ll understand.” – Three Days Grace, Pain
Zach McKinstry and Rafael Ortega had success at the top of the order yesterday, but the rest of the Cubs couldn’t plate them. McKinstry was 4-for-5 with a double and a triple, and Ortega was 2-for-3 with a stolen base. But the two combined for just one run. Nico Hoerner was 2-for-2 before leaving with a right triceps injury, but he also did not score. Madrigal hit the injured list for the third time this season.
- Games Played: 140
- Total Plate Appearances: 5,265
- Total Strikeouts: 1,229
- Strikeout Rate: 23.34%
- Team Batting Average: .242
- Runs Scored: 568
- Runs Allowed: 673
How About That!
MLB players are not very happy with the new rules changes.
The league has voluntarily agreed to recognize its minor league players’ efforts to unionize.
Baseball is also increasing its efforts to market the sport to younger fans.
Edwin Jackson, who pitched for a league-record 14 teams including the Cubs and White Sox, has officially announced his retirement.
The Phillies beat the Nationals after a team record 3 hour, 36 minute rain delay.
The Athletics have outrighted former top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell Jr.
Andy Pettitte believes that sports can help to unify the politically-divided USA.
Anthony Varvaro, a former MLB pitcher who retired in 2016 to become a New York City-area police officer, was killed in a car crash while he was on his way to work at the 9/11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan. He was 37.
Mr. Varvaro started his baseball career as a catcher for West Shore Little League in Staten Island and continued to give back to the sport he loved, serving most recently as the League President for Snug Harbor Little League in Staten Island.
Sunday’s Three Stars
- Albert Pujols – He hit number 697 yesterday, moving into fourth place in career home runs. Pujols trails Barry Bonds (762), Henry Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714).
- Justin Turner – The Dodgers are going to the playoffs on the heels of Turner’s fantastic game. The veteran infielder blasted a pair of jacks and plated five runners.
- Rowdy Tellez – The Brewhouse of Beertown belted two home runs with four RBI on a 3-4 day. That’s not his nickname though. People just call him “Rowdy.” C’mon Milwaukeeans, you can do better than that.
Suzuki is going to have monster 2023. He seems to be finally adjusting to Major League pitching. He’s 10-for-35 (.286) in September with three home runs and a double in 35 at-bats. I’d still like to see the strikeout rate come down, though.
Home run No. 13 of the season for Seiya Suzuki! pic.twitter.com/X2gZVN4wqH
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 12, 2022
Monday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears are 1-0 thanks to a stunning upset win over the 49ers at a very soggy Soldier Field. Justin Fields threw two touchdown passes, including a 51-yard to Dante Pettis.
- Somebody predicted the game would play out exactly as it did. I don’t like to brag though.
- The 74th Emmy Awards will be held tonight at the Microsoft Theater in downtown LA. I’m rooting for Bob Odenkirk but I’m upset that Stranger Things has so few nominations.
- Oktoberfest begins in Munich on Saturday. This is its official post-COVID return. The equivalent of 124,425 kegs of beer were consumed at the two-week festival in 2019.
- Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years. The Ukraine military is starting to push those big, bad Russians around.
- The FBI reportedly monitored singer Aretha Franklin during the 1967-68 Civil Rights movement. That’s not the proper way of showing respect.
They Said It
- “People don’t put nice things on social media. C’mon.” – Ricketts
- “It’s like when you want to buy a new car but you don’t have to, you can be picky, right? We’ve got a really good shortstop here. If something works out where they identify a middle infielder that is of value that they feel like fits really well, I think everybody’s on board with that, including myself and Nico. Those are good problems to have. We’ll let the front office kind of pick and choose on that.” – David Ross
- “It’s going to be a big offseason. It’s going to be the biggest offseason I’ve had in the last couple of years. I’m going to be doing some major changes.” – Madrigal
Monday Walk-Up Song
How about it, Mr. Ricketts?