With the signing of Marlon Byrd, the acquisition of Carlos Silva and the addition of a reliever or two, the Cubs haven't done much this offseason - and the fanbase is getting a bit restless. Which is natural, given the high payroll, recent successes and recent failures.
But Chuck at Ivy Chat says the Ricketts family has a plan - and a good one, though one that will be unpopular on the North Side:
Well, there is a plan and it's pretty clear what it is. And some fans aren't going to like it. The key point is understanding what the plan does include and what it doesn't include. Let's start with what it doesn't include:
The plan does not include an all out effort to win in 2010.
Deal with it, Cub fans. Barring some sort of unnatural intervention, 2010 will not be the year we make contact with a pennant. The team isn't good enough as it stands and there weren't / aren't enough good players available to make the team better enough to win.
Here's what the plan the Ricketts have does include:
1) Multi-generational ownership
2) Winning many times during those many generations
(click "read more" below)
What the Ricketts family has done is locked in the capital structure for the next 13 years. This will allow them to set proper long term budgets and invest back into the team without worrying that changes in interest rates, or banks being unwilling to refinance, would put the product on the field at risk.
Next, they are trying to raise another $100 million for working capital, capital improvements, and cash reserve to cover the remaining short term debt.
And to watch over all this? They are hiring a CFO.
The Ricketts have a plan and they are executing it smartly.
Fine. I don't disagree with any of this, though I have called the Ricketts family ownership a disappointment to date, for many of the reasons that Chuck advises exercising patience.
I'm with Chuck in that I firmly believe baseball is a business and should be run as such (winning begets money). But can the Ricketts plan include the cessation of stupid baseball decisions that do nothing to solve short- or long-term financial issues?
For example, why in the world did the team not offer arbitration to Rich Harden after they declined to trade him to the Twins at the wavier deadline? Once they held on to him in August (even though the Cubs were out of the race), the offer of arbitration had to be a given, right?
It's those kinds of baffling moves - ones that the Cubs did not make in recent years - that leave many questioning the Ricketts' judgment. But Chuck has a point: They are in it for the long haul.