Cubs Ownership Questioned After Failing To Reach Postseason
The Cubs failed to reach the postseason and agreed to part ways with manager Joe Maddon, but President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein's personnel moves have put the team in this "tenuous position, aided by" Chair Tom Ricketts' "reluctance to spend last offseason in order to avoid getting hit by higher luxury-tax penalties," according to Paul Sullivan of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. With all the "new premium clubs" at Wrigley Field, "advertising revenues, ticket price increases and TV money, Ricketts easily could've afforded to spend whatever was needed to win this year." Fans "can't exactly call him cheap," but they "can say he has his limits on how much another championship is worth to him and his siblings" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/30). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes that "not nearly enough of the blame for the decline of the last three years has gone to ownership." Fans have "watched the Rickettses rest comfortably on their laurels" since the '16 World Series. They "confused the fan base's aching hunger for a title with the notion that nothing that came after winning one would matter." Now, they "can't understand why any anger would be directed at them." If ownership is "serious about returning to the glory days" of '16, it "needs to open the vault even more for Epstein and the baseball operation" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/30).
WHAT'S NEXT FOR CUBS? ESPN's Jeff Passan said it has "become such a player-centric game" that it is "almost like the club has to look for a manager who fits the players as opposed to the players fitting the style of the manager." He said of the Cubs, "'Do they need someone who is going to come in and be more of a disciplinarian, or do they want to try and find someone who connects better with the front office and who can take the principals of Theo Epstein and (GM) Jed Hoyer, and spread them throughout the clubhouse?" Passan said of Epstein, "At some point you look in the mirror and you say, 'Maybe what I'm doing needs to change and evolve a little bit'" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN2, 9/29).
WHAT'S NEXT FOR MADDON? The TRIBUNE's Sullivan writes part of Maddon's job was to "sell Cubs baseball to the masses for the team's owners to increase their profits," and "other than Harry Caray and Ernie Banks, no one enjoyed selling the Cubs more than Maddon" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/30). Any owner "seeking a well-known name with a winning background would be crazy to dismiss someone with Maddon's ability to win, create fan and media interest and, yes, sell tickets." Because "when all is said and done, it's all about selling tickets" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/30).