LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Scott Boras doesn’t know when the Cubs are going to spend again or how long this rebuild is going to take.
“It appears as though we’re looking at the all-day sucker,” Boras said.
The game’s most powerful agent used his winter-meetings megaphone to again zing Cubs ownership on Wednesday at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
Surrounded by reporters for his State of Boras Corp. address – cameramen stood on chairs to get their shots – he later explained it was a lollipop metaphor…and not a shot at the fans paying the third-highest ticket prices in baseball.
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“It takes a long time to dissolve,” Boras said. “The idea is it’s going to take some time for them to reach the resolve to say they are going to compete on all fronts.”
Boras made “All-Day Sucker” the sequel to “Meet the Parents.” Last month he had torched the Ricketts family plan during another media scrum at the GM meetings in Orlando, Fla.
“I actually have met Tom,” Boras said. “I was referring to his parents.”
Chairman Tom Ricketts hopes to renovate Wrigley Field and build up the farm system while Joe – the family patriarch and TD Ameritrade founder – is a shadow presence around the franchise. For all the surface-level comparisons to Fenway Park, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein hasn’t come close to the resources he had with the Boston Red Sox.
“Revenue-wise, they’re one of the top teams in the game,” Boras said. “Their baseball ops people and their ownership have to sit down and decide when the time is. I mean, it’s disappointing that a market like that does not retool in a very rapid way.
“This is more of a customary small-market approach.”
Sources insist the Cubs are restricted by the tax shelters built by Sam Zell’s Tribune Co. and the debt taken on by the Ricketts family in a highly leveraged/extremely complicated $845 million deal that was finalized in October 2009 (and included a stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago).
Since then, major-league payroll has been slashed from around $143 million to roughly $104 million last season. The Cubs have lost 375 games across the past four years and finished in fifth place each time.
“The baseball ops people – I’ve known them for a long time – I think they want to win today,” Boras said. “But they also work for people, and all of us who work for people understand what we’re told to do, and I’m sure that’s what they have to do.”
Boras – who represents elite prospects Kris Bryant and Albert Almora – struck a nerve inside the team’s Clark Street headquarters with his comments last month.
“Everybody knows that we have great respect for the baseball people there,” Boras said. “I know what they’re building. The real thing is that it has nothing to do with the baseball people or how the organization is run. It’s just the fact that you got a major-market team that has just dramatically more revenues than most clubs do taking this type of approach.”
The Cubs understand this is textbook Boras.
“We’re not going to get into a war of words with Scott,” Epstein said. “Other than to say that the folks who work at the Cubs probably have a better understanding of our situation than he does and we look forward to working with him and continuing to sign his players going forward.
“It’s not the first time that an agent has used the media to try to compel a team into spending huge amounts of money without knowledge of that club’s financial situation.”
Boras spoke for nearly an hour, responding to questions about everything from clients like Shin-Soo Choo and Max Scherzer to his rivalry with Jay-Z to the Japanese posting system.
The agent stood with his back to the wall. The television lights had been so bright – and the media swarm so close – that sweat formed on his forehead and upper lip.
The guy who had an answer for everything was speechless when asked another question about the Cubs: Have you ever seen this before?
“Um…” Boras said, pausing for six seconds. “Well, that’s the question that – because I can’t answer it – I’m going to have to look at the history and say that’s something I need to research. It’s been that long.”