Trying to make sense of Gordon Wittenmeyer’s super-weird article

It’s late and I’m tired, but I can’t sleep until someone makes sense of this ridiculous article Gordon Wittenmeyer wrote tonight. Let’s forge ahead together, shall we?

There were two separate, yet unrelated pieces of news yesterday. The first was Scott Boras’ hilarious attempted take-down of the Cubs, wherein he complained that he’s never met Papa Ricketts and that the Cubs don’t spend enough money on talent. And of course, Scott Boras would have no vested interested in how much money the Cubs spend on players because his paycheck is in no way dependent on teams handing garbage bags full of money to his clients. Nothing to see here. Move along.

image-chicago-cubs-jeff-samardzija-wrigley-field-2012-win2The second bit of “news” is really just a bunch of people having common sense smack them in the face. For reasons still not understood by me, everyone started yelling about the Cubs trading Jeff Samardzija, even though most of us who write about the Cubs have assumed this was a likely scenario for months.  But yell about it they did, and it resulted in this weird mashup article written by Gordon Wittenmeyer, wherein the Cubs trade Jeff Samardzija because the Ricketts family spent too much money on Wrigley Field. Or something.

It would make (Samardzija) the first player identified by this front office as a “building block” to be traded during a rebuilding process that has gotten longer with every delay in stadium renovations and every question that arises over local TV rights deals.

And it’s starting to send the same message to executives around the game that fans have been getting since the Ricketts family bought the team and froze – then cut – baseball spending.

“If you do that, you’re saying you’re not trying to win,” said one long-time National League GM. “He’s a monster in the making. That’s not the kind of discussion that comes up in a planning meeting.”

Not with two years of club control left. Not if you’re operating as a big-market club with access to big-market operating resources – something many in the industry even outside the organization are starting to debate applies to the Cubs anymore.

Samardzija checks all the Cubs’ boxes, to use a phrase the brass likes – right attitude, leadership qualities, competitive nature and pure, raw power skills.

Yet when the winter meetings open in less than a month, he’s expected to be actively shopped – a potential scaled down alternative to Tampa Bay’s available ace David Price.

So refusing to overpay a player and allowing him to walk away without getting anything in return is a sign that you’re not interested in winning? Sorry, but I’m completely confused.

Let’s separate things that are not related. If the Cubs do move Samardzija, it’s not because the Ricketts spent too much money on Wrigley or their wardrobes or whatever. As we’ve seen with other deals, Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein are not averse to paying for talent when they think a price is fair. What they are NOT going to do, however, is pay a player more than they feel he’s worth.

It’s been no secret since the beginning of “negotiations” with Samardzija (in which he initially didn’t even respond to the Cubs’ offers to extend him) that Samardzija wants to be paid like an ace. It’s also been no secret that Samardzija, who had a 1.4 WHIP in the second half of the season, has not pitched like an ace. What, exactly, would Wittenmeyer have the Cubs do? Overpay for a pitcher with a chronic inability to put together a solid season? Do whatever it takes to keep Samardzija? Not explore deals in which the Cubs would get back young arms in exchange for a guy with an over-inflated ego and a 1.34 WHIP?

Let’s be clear. As far as the Cubs are concerned, every player has a value, both in terms of dollars and in terms of talent. If a team makes an offer that meets or exceeds that pre-determined value,  the Cubs will drive the player to the airport. Period. No matter who that player is. If the Cubs are able to get back young arms, with a high ceiling, under team control for several years, Samardzija will be gone. It’s not about a great attitude or checking off boxes or pleasing the fans. It’s about a net gain in value. No one is untouchable. You know who believed in untouchable players? Jim Hendry.

Wittenmeyer goes on to quote Boras complaining about not being invited to tea with the Ricketts family. No, I’m not kidding. What any of this has to do with Jeff Samardzija, I’m still not sure. It’s almost as if Wittenmeyer didn’t have the time to write two separate articles, so he combined them into one piece and tried to connect the two events. Or, to be more accurate, the two non-events.

If I’m missing something here, please explain it to me. I seem to be missing the part where not letting Samardzija walk away as a free agent means the Cubs have given up on winning.

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26 thoughts on “Trying to make sense of Gordon Wittenmeyer’s super-weird article

  1. Doc Blume says:

    Quite frankly, I think Hoyer/Epstein have handled Samardzija exactly as they should. They’ve tried to lock Samardzija up with a long term deal. Unlike Castro and Rizzo, Samardzija didn’t bite. Why? Well, because good old Jim Hendry has already given Spellcheck a shitload of money…that’s why. Castro and Rizzo hadn’t really made jack squat yet when they signed their long term deals. They wanted their money. Samardzija doesn’t want it.

    Samardzija wants to hit the open market…it’s as simple as that. If that’s the case, the Cubs don’t want to get into a bidding war for him. So trade him now…get some more prospects and move on. That’s not the sign of a cheap team…that’s the sign of a smart team.

  2. bob says:

    I think they want to underpay him because he isn’t one if their guys thats why i see them trading for younger pitchers but that will leave us with two holes for starters This patchwork by Theo and Jed of bringing average players in has to stop isn’t helping the team whatsoever Fans are paying big bucks to see a below average team for many years

  3. Doc Blume says:

    I’m wondering if Gordon Wittenmyer and Al Yellon are the same person.

    1. berseliusx says:

      Impossible; there are not enough semicolons in that Gordo article.

      1. Doc Blume says:

        Damn…that’s true. I’m at a complete loss then.

  4. Drew says:

    Shark was overpaid when he got the $10 million signing bonus. I like him, but he’s no Ted Lilly.

  5. bob says:

    He us better than lilly and ejax

  6. juliedicaro says:

    The number of people who get REALLY MAD when I criticize a beat writer never fails to amaze me.

  7. bob says:

    I’m not mad at you Julie I’m dissspointed in cubs regime but what else is new as far as being cubs fans for over 30 years

  8. Bob in Madison says:

    Gordo hasn’t made any sense for years. Chicago media is the worst…

  9. J says:

    LOLprintmedia
    LOLBoras

    It’s time to face the music. The Cubs were never a big market team, they just happened to be the best positioned small market team. They were a team with corporate ownership that was concerned with selling tickets and broadcast media ads to improve the bottom line this year. The Cubs are now a family owned team with an aversion to paying anywhere near market value for labor, aka selling a narrative of “the future.”

    The romantic notions about the Cubs winning it in Wrigley need to end. Yes I can drive my 1971 VW Bus out on the freeway, but it’s just not built for the way people drive on the freeways today. Yes the Cubs can continue to play in Wrigley, but do you really want to live in a neighborhood where your neighbors complain every time you want to add some new electronics to your property? Look at the Braves. They’ve had a pretty good run the past 20 years. They’re also planning on their 3rd home ballpark in that timespan. This isn’t Boston. The Cubs don’t have legions of Southies wanting to save the park where Ted Williams played; The Cubs have NIMBYs. Time to grow up, head to the suburbs, and quit hanging with all those douchebags that no one really liked to begin with.

    1. juliedicaro says:

      I really don’t care if people call the Cubs a big market team, a mid-market team, or a butt market team. I just want them to win. I couldn’t care less what Scott Boras thinks.

      1. Doc Blume says:

        I sure hope they aren’t a butt market team.

  10. sloanpeterson2 says:

    1. Spellcheck obviously had a few concussions playing college football, and as a result, when he looks in the mirror, he sees Clayton Kershaw.
    2. Boras is a bully, who has made millions off of players who were oeversold to teams too afraid to say no.
    3.Getting rid of Spellcheck does not mean the Cubs have given up on winning;it means the Cubs are beginning to think things through player by player.
    4. As for the ballpark determining if your team is competitive or not, someone forgot to tell the Oakland A’s that. Their ballpark has sewage in the dugouts, yet they manage to compete and come out first in their division. Most teams play 50% of their games on the road; even if the Braves get the shiniest,newest, most buzzworthy new ballpark of all time, they will have to hit the road and play in other cities…..

    1. FrankS says:

      The thing that bothers me is that the Cubs like to sell “historic Wrigley Field,” but the history is of a rather pathetic franchise. The last World Series the Cubs won was in 1908, before they moved to the cursed ball park. They haven’t been to the Series since ’45. The Yankees won 20 something championships in the House that Ruth Built, but they had no problem tearing that historic structure down. The Braves have done nothing but win since moving to Turner Field, but they are having no problem leaving that history behind for another building. Why don’t the Cubs leave the goat curse and the rest of it behind for a new stadium?

      1. dabirdguy says:

        Ya, but the Wheaton Cubs just doesn’t have a ring to it.

        1. FrankS says:

          Many stadiums aren’t in the city proper. The New York Jets and Giants play in Jersey fer gawd’s sake. The NFL team that claims to be from Washington plays in Landover, Maryland. Why not just drop the city designation and simply be the Cubs?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Well in that case, you could then have the Indiana Cubs, the Wisconsin Cubs, the Los Angeles County Cubs…
    I think it would be better for the Cubs to stay at least in the vicinity of Chicago.
    And if they do leave Chicago, that would leave the White Sox as the only Chicago city team….

  12. dabirdguy says:

    The Chicago Cubs of Rosemont?
    Mind you, I think they NEED a new stadium, with a retractable dome would be better for the early spring and late fall games, AND they need to do as many night games as they want.
    PLUS moving would screw the greedy rooftop owners!!
    It’s gonna take some getting used to.
    I mean seriously….most of Chicago sees Harry Carey as an Icon, and not for the drunken letch that he really was.

    1. Drew says:

      This is a silly conversation. The Cubs aren’t moving. They OWN Wrigley Field. What are they supposed to do with it?

      1. dabirdguy says:

        Knock it down and build apartments like all the other old ballparks.
        It’s value diminishes on a daily basis as the structure rots and the concrete crumbles and the neighborhood deteriorates. Putting MORE money into it is a waste of time and effort.
        Another thing to face…the place AIN’T that pretty. It is a pain to get to. A pain to park. A pain to get to your seat. Uncomfortable seats. And before the Ivy returns it looks like crap on the field. And the restrooms are a joke.

        1. Dwer says:

          The value of Wrigley and the surrounding neighborhood is going UP, not down.

          I’ll note your opinion about the place appropriately.

          1. J says:

            The value of the land is going up, but Wrigley Field has become more of a liability than an asset at this point in the game. Did you miss the whole “payroll stays down until we renovate the ballpark” memo?

            If anything, Wrigley is the albatross that the Ricketts had to take on (along with Zell’s financing scheme) to get the franchise. We’re 49 months removed from the sale of the team and the renovation is still a giant question mark. Wrigley becomes an asset the second that you see top tier free agents taking a cut in pay to play there, which will happen just about never at this point.

            1. dabirdguy says:

              I agree. I’m sure it is on their books for FAR more than it is worth.
              The ground is worth far more than the park if you add in what it will cost to keep it in its current status, much less upgrade the place.

  13. snoogans says:

    Gordon Wittenmeyer is the worst Cubs reporter that I have ever seen. The worst sports reporter, period. Why he still has a job covering the Cubs, let alone any sport is beyond me.

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