Before we get going this morning, I would be remiss if I didn’t share this hilarious moment on Twitter yesterday, wherein ESPN Cubs beat writer Jess Rogers made fun of Cubs infielder Cody Ransom, assuming Ransom would never see it.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said a few weeks ago that the Cubs would be “part of the process” when it came to Japanese phenom (?) Mashahiro Tanaka. We now know what that process will be.
Major League Baseball and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have reached a basic agreement on a new posting system, according to the Japan Times. The new system will indeed have a maximum posting fee of $20MM. A formal draft of the agreement is currently being prepared, NPB secretary general Atsushi Ihara told the Times.
The Times report says the final details are being ironed out, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with a source who told him that if multiple teams submit the same bid, the player will be allowed to negotiate with all of those clubs. Only the signing club would be required to pay the posting fee, which still will not count against MLB’s luxury tax (the ensuing contract, of course, will count). MLB fully expects Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka to be posted, Rosenthal adds (AllTwitterlinks). Rosenthal’s report meshes with the details reported by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times yesterday.
The rules are actually good news for the Cubs, as the original plan was thought to be that if several teams posted the maximum bid, the team with the worst record would win negotiating rights. With Houston and the White Sox having worse records than the Cubs, Chicago would have had virtually no change of landing Tanaka. The other bit of good news is that the posting fee will not count towards a team’s luxury tax, and likely not towards the debt limit the Cubs reportedly had imposed on them by the Ricketts’ financiers.
Now? We wait.
The Cubs did make a signing yesterday, adding lefty reliever Wesley Wright to the roster. Over at Cubs Den, John Arguello introduces us to the former Astro:
It may not be the move you were hoping for but the Cubs did fill an important need today by signing LHP Wesley Wright. The 28 year old former Ray was 0-4 last season with a 3.69 ERA. He has spent most of his career with the Houston Astros and has a 4.37 career ERA.
What Wright can do is miss bats (9.22 Ks/9 IP; 23.7% K rate) with a solid low 90s fastball, slider, curve, and change-up. He worked 71 games out of the pen, so he’s used to working frequently. He should be able to give James Russell a much needed breather. The presence of Zac Rosscup, Chris Rusin, and Brooks Raley also gives the team some flexiblity to deal a LHP.
His control has improved over the last few years but he still walks about 3 batters per 9 innings. He’s also prone to the long ball, though he did have some bad luck there with a HR/FB rate that jumped by about 5% last year.
Given their record last season, I’m not sure bringing anyone from the toxic Astros on-board won’t contaminate the entire team, but I guess I’ll wait and see.
Finally, I know you’ll all be shocked to hear that the neighborhood has expressed reservations about something the Cubs want to do in Wrigleyville. Quelle surprise.
The Cubs got preliminary approval from aldermen Wednesday for an ordinance to give them more flexibility to schedule night games, but ran into a delay in their push to set up a team-controlled outdoor plaza where fans can drink beer and listen to live music next to Wrigley Field so neighborhood residents can get a closer look at the details.
The City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection advanced a package that will allow the team to schedule up to 43 night games without needing to come back to the city for approval.
The measure, which heads to the full City Council for consideration, also sets escalating fines for concerts at the historic ballpark that run beyond 11 p.m. after neighbors complained about a Pearl Jam show last summer that ran late due to a rain delay.
But the panel put off a hearing on a proposed “outdoor sports plaza” ordinance sponsored by Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney, 44th.
The team wants to be able to sell beer and wine in the plaza from 11 a.m. until midnight on weekends and until 11 p.m. on weeknights. Alcohol sales also would be allowed during non-game events like the concerts or ice skating programs the Cubs have talked about for the plaza to be built just west of the stadium.
I get WHY the Cubs want to sell beer and wine outside Wrigley. These days, people are heading to the Cubby Bear by the 4th inning — depriving the Cubs of the revenue provided by three more innings of hard-core drinking by suicidal Cubs fans. On the other hand, I think the neighborhood has a point that we should all acknowledge just how much of a shit show this open container plaza is going to be. If there’s one thing Wrigleyville needs, it’s yet another place where people can get drunk outdoors and stumble into traffic.
Carl and I are keeping our eyes, as always, on the transaction wire. We’ll let you know if anything goes down. To be safe, you should probably follow LOHO’s Facebook page, as that’s where we’ll post breaking news first.