NL Franchise Notes: Cubs Resembling "Small-Market" Club Under Ricketts
In Chicago, Gordon Wittenmyer notes the Cubs in just over three years under the Ricketts family's ownership have "gone from the top of the economic food chain in the National League Central to a team that operates and even looks like the small-market Pirates." In terms of their "timeline to be competitive, the Cubs could have a problem because their mid-market behavior appears to be caused as much by the debt left from the Ricketts’ highly leveraged purchase of the team as any premeditated rebuilding process." For all the talk from Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts "about the family’s 'mission' to win, dozens of conversations with banking experts, attorneys, sports economists and baseball officials inside and outside the organization suggest that ownership’s focus since the purchase has been to climb out from under the heaviest debt load in the majors" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/1).
ROCKY MOUNTAIN LOW? In Denver, Terry Frei writes there has never been "less excitement and sense of anticipation about an upcoming season" than there is around the Rockies this year. They made a "solid managerial hire, bringing Walt Weiss back into the organization." But "so little else has changed." The "charge will be reprised" that Rockies co-Owners Dick and Charlie Monfort are "'cheap,' but that missed the bigger points." One being that "throwing money around indiscriminately doesn't work" (DENVER POST, 4/1).
SITTING BY THE DOCK: In Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote the fact that Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy recently signed extensions through the '16 season "should come as no surprise." They "deserve it after winning two World Series championships in three years." Sabean is "never completely satisfied with the team he starts the season with." He always fears there is "not enough depth to withstand those injuries, yet he always seems to adjust as the season goes on." He is an “old school” GM who "relies on scouting more than statistical data, though he has a department in baseball operations for such things." It is "worth saying that the Giants are the epitome of chemistry, from the front office down" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/31).
RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER: In Pittsburgh, J. Brady McCollough wrote Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is the "face" of the franchise, with his "long locks having become a symbol of hope for a fan base that has had to take loyalty to new levels over two decades." McCutchen is "trying to embrace the role, and some days are better than others." McCutchen is in the "process of going from a good player few recognize to a household name for baseball fans across the country, and he has hired a publicist to manage his image and public appearances" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/31).