Cubs looking for help with Wrigley renovation

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Cubs looking for help with Wrigley renovation

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010
8:10 PM
By Patrick MooneyCSNChicago.com

It's not surprising to see a limo pull up outside Wrigley Field and a bride and groom emerge to have their picture taken in front of the marquee. Such is the pull of the second-oldest ballpark in the majors as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

To preserve what ownership calls the state's third-largest tourist attraction, the Cubs will request that a portion of the amusement taxes added to each ticket be directly invested in a stadium renovation, chairman Tom Ricketts wrote Thursday in a letter to season-ticket holders.

The Chicago Tribune first reported that the plan would have the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority float nearly 300 million in bonds. Within a 35-year window, the bonds would be paid by the 12 percent ticket surcharge assessed by the city and Cook County.

Ricketts estimated that the Cubs and Wrigley Field are annually responsible for a 600 million impact on the local economy, 7,000 jobs and 60 million in tax collections.

If approved, Ricketts wrote, the Cubs will undertake more than 200 million in renovations during the next five years. His family -- after purchasing the team, stadium and a stake in Comcast SportsNet for roughly 845 million almost 13 months ago -- would also make a significant investment in neighborhood development.

The ISFA owns U.S. Cellular Field, but the chairman indicated that the team would continue to play at Wrigley Field during construction. The Cubs will be motivated to stay there because they have drawn at least three-million fans for seven consecutive seasons.

Decisions will be made at a time when the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent and the state could be facing a 15 billion deficit. In the past several months, Cubs executives have shown their political skill in lobbying Mesa, Ariz., and convincing the city to spend close to 100 million for a new spring-training facility.

Now they will turn their attention toward Wrigley Field, which is being converted for next weekend's Northwestern-Illinois football game, another advertisement for the Cubs brand.

The ancient stadium will need significant upgrades if the Cubs are to host an All-Star Game this decade, and there are still visions of developing the multi-purpose "triangle building" on Clark Street.

"The plan is fair, simple and focused. Most importantly, it will not increase taxes you currently pay and will not create any new taxes," Ricketts wrote. "This plan will preserve the historic character and tradition of the Friendly Confines for the next generation and will enhance the Lakeview community."

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

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AP

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

The sports world woke up to some tragic news on Sunday morning.

Former major leaguer Andy Marte and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura were both killed in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic within an hour of each other, according to multiple reports. A Royals representative confirmed the death of 25-year-old Ventura.

The Cubs and White Sox took to Twitter to give their condolences:

Ventura was a member of the Royals from 2013-16 and won a World Series title in 2015 with Ben Zobrist and Wade Davis, who the Cubs acquired this offseason for Jorge Soler. Ventura also played with White Sox pitcher James Shields in 2013-14.

Marte, 33, played a majority of his seven-year career with the Cleveland Indians. He was teammates with Todd Hollandsworth (Atlanta 2005), Kerry Wood (Cleveland 2009-10), and Miguel Montero (Arizona 2014).

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Theo Epstein's front office is heading into Year 6 with the Cubs and they're finally talking about a pitcher as one of the organization's most exciting prospects.

That's how senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod framed his Dylan Cease report to fans at the Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand Chicago last weekend.

It was a tongue-in-cheek summation from McLeod after he spent the previous few minutes fawning over Cease, the Cubs' sixth round pick in 2014.

Of course, McLeod and the Cubs can poke fun at the lack of impact pitching the farm system has developed when the homegrown position players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber just helped lead the franchise to its first World Series championship in over a century.

Cease, however, has been one of the more intriguing Cubs prospects for years — a right-handed pitcher capable of touching 101 mph on the radar gun.

"This guy is throwing lightning bolts out of his arm," McLeod said. "It's really exciting. But we also understaned he's only in Low-A this year, so he's far away."

The Cubs expect Cease to pitch for Class-A South Bend in 2017 after spending last season pitching for short-season Eugene and the 2015 campaign working in the rookie league in Arizona.

Cease — who just turned 21 in late December — put up some impressive numbers at both stops in the Cubs system, posting a 2.36 ERA and 1.165 WHIP to go along with a whopping 91 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. He also only surrendered one homer and walked more batters (41) than reached via a basehit (39).

Control is obviously an issue for Cease, but the upside is evident.

"He's so far away," McLeod said. "He's gonna go into 2017 as a starter. As with a lot of young guys, it's gonna come down to command and depend on that third pitch and the ability to land them for strikes.

"It's a special arm. He can pitch 95-100 mph with a big power curveball. He's unlike anyone else we have in our system since we've been here in terms of pure stuff."

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One fan compared Cease to Carl Edwards Jr. in terms of their lanky build and high velocity, setting McLeod up for a layup joke.

"Well, Dylan is much stronger physically than CJ is...as is everybody in this room," McLeod said as the ballroom filled with laugher. "Don't tell [CJ] I said that. 

"They have different body types, obviously. Carl is long and lanky and Dylan has probably put on 20 pounds since we drafted him, so he's more like 6-foot-2, 190."

By comparison, Edwards — who goes by "The String Bean Slinger" for his slight build — is listed at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds.

Edwards was drafted in the 48th round in 2011 and spent his whole minor-league career as a starting pitcher until the Cubs converted him to a reliever in 2015.

Cease may eventually go down the same path, but the Cubs are going to give him every opportunity to make it as a starter first.

Cease was one of the top pitchers available in the 2014 draft, but his stock took a hit when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow while at Milton High School in Georgia.

That scared off a lot of teams — as did the potential signability issues with college offers looming — but the Cubs took a chance and have now watched Cease soar to a top prospect in the system (No. 4 by Baseball America; No. 7 by FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus) despite the cautious approach and lack of innings in professional ball.

"We have to thank Kyle Schwarber, actually, as one of the main reasons we got to sign Dylan Cease," McLeod said. "Because we took Kyle fourth overall, we were able to save money on the selection with him, which gave us the resources to go get Dylan Cease.

"He was a Top 10 pick in the draft — a high school arm that got hurt, fell down to the fifth round and he had a commitment to Vanderbilt, I think it was, and we were able to use the money we saved from Kyle.

"Just another reason to love Kyle Schwarber."