Tonight, Ken Rosenthal treated us to a gem of a tweet:
Sources: E. Santana seeking $100M, Nolasco $80M on five-year deals. Story: http://t.co/q8iNLosRrr
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 8, 2013
I was at the neighborhood Chipotle at the time, waiting entirely too long for a very underwhelming burrito, when I saw this. I think I snorted, but didn’t actually laugh out loud. Ervin Santana is a pretty solid pitcher, but he’s not THAT good. Ricky Nolasco isn’t exactly that good either; he’s more of a back-of-the-rotation pitcher. What this is telling us is either these players and/or their agents are completely insane, or the free agent market has gone bonkers in the wake of the new collective bargaining agreement where every team is locking up their good young talent early and elite players won’t make it to free agency as often. It’s one part inflation (money keeps losing value over time whether in baseball or in the real world) and one part supply-and-demand, where the demand is outweighing the supply. Unless the Ricketts Family loosens the pursestrings a bit (which I don’t think they should anyway), this is going to be a pretty boring free agent season. Of course, the Cubs could throw some of their rumored new money into snagging Masahiro Tanaka, or perhaps even at guys like Shin-Soo Choo. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Before that happens, however, the Cubs need to start bringing in more dough. One of the priorities of any professional sports team is to generate as much revenue as possible, and the Ricketts Family have been transparent about putting the profits back into the team. How they do this isn’t completely public knowledge, but considering the creation of new facilities in Mesa and the Dominican Republic as well as a pledge to renovate Wrigley Field on their own dime, you kind of give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.
The Wrigley renovation process, by the way, has taken up until now and despite approvals from the city and the various bureaucratic segments therein, the Cubs still can’t do anything because the rooftops are not-so-vaguely threatening to sue if they believe that the new outfield signs will block their views. It’s been a long, frustrating process because the Cubs don’t want to lose any kind of leverage if they break ground and suddenly find that there are 750 injunctions against them because the neighboring parasites want a free view. I also understand that there’s an agreement in place, but it is a really stupid agreement set up by the previous administration who were at least partially responsible for the mess that the new front office has had to clean up gradually. I really wish someone out there could explain why the Cubs don’t just say, “Fuck you guys, we’re building anyway and just send us the check for ‘damages incurred’ if you’re hell bent on suing us,” put up the Jumbotron(s) and start making much more money than they can be sued for. I guess the reason has to do with those 750 potential injunctions that would delay the project indefinitely until a judge decided the case once and for all. It’d be so refreshing to see Tom Ricketts give the rooftops a giant middle finger though.
I still fully believe that Wrigley is magic, and that the Cubs should stay if at all possible. The original proposed changes seemed reasonable and would have extended the useful life of the ballpark, which at this point is an old museum that’s counting the days until metal and concrete fatigue help the ballpark fall apart on its own. I don’t want to renege on my commitment to the magic of Wrigley, but the franchise is running a business, and if they determine that it is no longer profitable or practical to play in Wrigley, they’ll have to move. That’s that, and no matter how sad we are about it (like losing Old Style or potentially losing WGN-TV broadcasts), it’s just the way it is because some people don’t want to lose their ability to leech off another’s product.
Take today, for example. Danny Ecker reported that the city approved a further Sheffield Avenue expansion of the Wrigley Field outfield walls than was previously proposed, which was even supported by Alderman Tom Tunney (srsly WTF). The rooftops again balked at this, talking about uninterrupted sweeps and potential view blockages despite the fact that the expansion of the outfield walls was proposed in part to reduce obstructed viewpoints from the rooftops. Ridiculous.
The Cubs were supposed to begin reworking the ballpark this winter, but I don’t think that’s going to happen except for some general maintenance. I wish things were different, because there are some very interesting players I’d love to see the Cubs throw money at. And every day that they can’t start renovation is money and opportunity lost. The people who are threatening to sue are willfully sabotaging their own future. But like certain Cubs fans who want the team to win now and screw the future, the rooftop owners can’t seem to see further than a few feet in front of themselves.
I really hope the Cubs don’t move, but if I were Tom Ricketts, I’m starting up Plan B.