Cubs

Cubs set 2012 ticket prices at Wrigley Field

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Cubs set 2012 ticket prices at Wrigley Field

The Cubs are already looking forward to the buzz Theo Epstein will bring to their franchise and what that could mean at the box office.

The timing happened to work out perfectly. Renewal forms were already scheduled to be sent out to season-ticket holders on Friday, just as team executives were finalizing the details that will bring Epstein to the North Side.

The Cubs announced Friday that prices for season tickets will be essentially flat or reduced when compared to 2011. Season-ticket holders will also get a break, paying on average 1-to-2 less than what it costs for individual-game tickets in the same location.

The Cubs are now requiring a 10 percent deposit on season tickets in November, with the remaining balance due in January. In exchange, fans will be able to visit Wrigley Field and personally pick out a new location if theyre looking to change seats.

Perhaps sensing how it looks on television, management has responded to the empty seats seen across the bleachers last season.

The Cubs say that season tickets in the bleachers are decreasing on average by 14.3 percent per ticket. Prices for individual games will drop 10.3 percent on average next season. But it will be more expensive than last year to sit there for the 13 marquee games.

The Cubs did not add another pricing tier for 2012. Marquee remains the most expensive designation, which is reserved for: Opening Day; weekend series with the White Sox, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals; and high-traffic Saturdays in the summer against the Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds.

The Cubs say season tickets within the seating bowl will remain flat compared to last year.

Individual tickets depend on the game category, and its a wide range. When the 12 percent amusement tax is factored in, it will cost around 128 for an infield club box seat on a marquee day. Its only about 9 to get an upper deck reserved outfield seat for a bronze game.

The general manager definitely cant take credit for this streak, but the Red Sox counted their 700th consecutive sellout at Fenway Park last month, a reflection of the winning teams assembled by Epstein.

In the months ahead, well find out what a new direction means at Wrigley Field.

The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason

The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason

There are plenty of intriguing Cubs storylines to monitor this offseason from their potential pursuit of the big free agents to any other changes that may come to the coaching staff or roster after a disappointing finish to the 2018 campaign.

But there's one question simmering under the radar in Cubs circles when it comes to this winter: How will the team solve the shortstop conundrum?

Just a few years ago, the Cubs had "too many" shortstops. Now, there are several different factors at play here that makes it a convoluted mess.

First: What will the Cubs do with Addison Russell? The embattled shortstop is in the midst of a suspension for domestic violence that will keep him off an MLB diamond for at least the first month of 2019.

Has Russell already played his last game with the Cubs? Will they trade him or send him packing in any other fashion this winter?

Theo Epstein mentioned several times he felt the organization needs to show support to the victim in the matter (Russell's ex-wife, Melisa) but also support for Russell. Does that mean they would keep him a part of the team at least through the early part of 2019?

Either way, Russell's days in Chicago are numbered and his play on the field took another big step back in 2018 as he fought through a hand injury and experienced a major dip in power. With his performance on the field and the off-field issues, it will be hard to justify a contract worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million in his second year of arbitration (prorated, with a month's worth of pay taken out for the suspension).

Even if Russell is on the roster in 2019, Javy Baez is unquestionably the shortstop for at least the first month while Russell is on suspension. 

But what about beyond Baez if the Cubs want to give him a breather or disaster strikes and he's forced to miss time with an injury?

At the moment, there's nothing but question marks on the current Cubs shortstop depth chart throughout the entire organization and they're certainly going to need other options at the most important defensive position (outside of pitcher/catcher). 

There's David Bote, who subbed in for Baez at short once in September when Baez needed a break and Russell was on the disabled list. But while Bote's defense at third base and second base has opened eyes around the Cubs, he has only played 45 games at short across seven minor-league seasons, including 15 games in 2018. There's also the offensive question marks with the rookie, who hit just .176 with a .559 OPS and 40 strikeouts in 108 at-bats after that epic ultimate grand slam on Aug. 12.

The Cubs' other current shortstop options include Mike Freeman (a 31-year-old career minor-leaguer), Ben Zobrist (who will be 38 in 2019 and has played all of 13 innings at shortstop since 2014), Ryan Court (a 30-year-old career minor leaguer) and Chesny Young (a 26-year-old minor-leaguer who has posted a .616 OPS in 201 Triple-A games).

Maybe Joe Maddon would actually deploy Kris Bryant at shortstop in case of emergency like a Baez injury ("necessity is the mother of invention," as Maddon loves to say), but that seems a lot more like a fun talking point than a legit option at this current juncture.

So even if Russell sticks around, there's no way the Cubs can go into the first month of the season with just Baez and Bote as the only shortstop options on a team that with World Series or bust expectations.

The Cubs will need to acquire some shortstop depth this winter in some capacity, whether it's adding to the Triple-A Iowa roster or getting a veteran who can also back up other positions. Right now, the free agent pool of potential shortstops is pretty slim beyond Manny Machado.

Epstein always says he and his front office look to try to mitigate risk and analyze where things could go wrong to sink the Cubs' season and through that lense, shortstop is suddenly right up there behind adding more bullpen help this winter.

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below: