Cubs

PujolsFielder megadeal will be Epsteins call

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PujolsFielder megadeal will be Epsteins call

Once Tom Ricketts finally took over a Cubs team that would be crippled by the wrong long-term investments, he promised that he would pour his money into player development.

When Theo Epstein left Boston for the chance to build something from the ground up, a segment of Red Sox Nation had very short memories, focusing on the expensive mistakes he made in free agency instead of the two World Series titles.

It will take close to an estimated 200 million and a commitment around eight years to sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. So what happens if Epstein goes to ownership for approval of a megadeal?

Theres one person responsible for making those decisions, Ricketts said, and one person accountable for those results. So if he believes strongly thats whats in the best interests of the team, then hes got my support.

The chairman met with beat writers on Tuesday, hours after a FOXSports.com report surfaced that the Cubs have checked in on Pujols and Fielder. If you are representing those superstars, you would certainly want the perception that the Cubs are in on your clients to help drive the price higher.

When the entire industry gathers for the winter meetings next week in Dallas, the Cubs will focus on pitching and defense, and not look for the quick fix.

Pujols will be 32 years old next season, which definitely sounds like a post-prime free agent, and he has to consider a legacy that should include a Cardinals hat on his Hall of Fame plaque and a statue outside Busch Stadium.

People close to Fielder swear hes more athletic than he looks, and rave about his maximum effort every day, but you have to wonder about the body type and how it will play in 2017.

A new collective bargaining agreement will change the calculus. Its just a matter of how much more money the Cubs might funnel into major-league payroll. Everyone knew commissioner Bud Selig was going to target the draft in this round of negotiations.

But even Ricketts admitted that this new capped system which includes taxes and penalties for excessive signings in the draft and internationally is a big shift, a bigger shift than I expected.

It will be a strategic change for some teams who were planning to spend more than what their caps would be, Ricketts said, so you just have to kind of roll with the punches and see what the new strategy will be.

People knew that this was an issue that was going to be discussed in the CBA. I was personally surprised at just how far it went.

The Cubs came to regret big-ticket items like Carlos Zambrano. Publicly, Epstein has said that Zambrano can earn his way back if he meets certain conditions after walking out on his teammates, though privately both sides have acknowledged that a fresh start might be best for everyone.

Ricketts went on national television last summer and said that he would have a hard time picturing Zambrano pitching for the Cubs again, but hell defer to Epstein on this matter.

Hes willing to give Carlos a chance to earn his way back on the team, Ricketts said. Its his decision and I support it 100 percent.

The new president of baseball operations will have an overall budget close to 200 million, which is similar to last seasons financials. He has already committed to an expanded front office and will have to decide how much goes toward the major-league roster.

Ricketts had no problem with Epstein bypassing Ryne Sandberg as manager and believes there wont be any grudges: Hell always be part of the Cubs family.

Cubs executives continue to lobby politicians for help with renovating Wrigley Field, but Ricketts didnt have any updates on those plans: Nothing concrete at this point.

But there is a buzz at Clark and Addison, a new energy inside those walls. The Ricketts family has controlled the team for two seasons and watched two fifth-place finishes amid a sea of empty green seats. The chairman knew he had to make a game-changing hire.

The Cubs dont need to make headlines with a blockbuster signing this winter. Theyre already the big story again.

I really dont think of it in terms of Q ratings or honeymoons, Ricketts said. In the end, if we win, people will think we were good owners. And if we lose, we were bad owners. So as long as you focus on doing what you can to win, everything will fall into place.

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:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.