Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Is The Tribune Company Really Going to Sell The Cubs?

There was a small, rather inconspicuous article in Crain’s Chicago Business yesterday indicating that The Tribune Company has asked potential bidders interested in purchasing all or part of the company to submit “nonbinding indications of interest.” The Tribune Company owns the Cubs as well as The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and 25 TV stations.

According to the article, The Tribune Company would like to complete a deal by the end of the year. Considering the late date already, this is highly unlikely. But it does show that the Trib Co. is apparently very serious about selling their assets.

When the Trib Co was adamant that they had no intention of selling the Cubs, I thought they should sell. I had convinced myself (without really giving it much thought) that anyone would be a better owner than The Trib Co. After all, The Trib Co has a 25 year track record of failing miserably when it comes to wins and losses. Of course, they have made money with the Cubs. I suppose that is important too.

Recently, when it started to look like the Cubs might actually be sold, I started to think about the possibility of someone worse than The Trib Co coming in to take over the team. I mean, what if someone like Jeffrey Loria, owner of the Marlins, was to buy the team. The payroll would be drastically cut and the new owner would just milk the franchise for all it was worth. One thing you can say about the Trib Co is that they were willing to spend some decent coin on payroll. I’ve argued in previous posts that I thought they should spend even more, but a payroll of $100 million is nothing to sneeze at.

If I could be guaranteed that someone like Mark Cuban (other than Mark Cuban, is there anyone like Mark Cuban?) would ride in on his white horse and commit all of his considerable resources to building a World Series Champion on the north side, I’d be all for The Trib Co selling the team. But owners like Mark Cuban are few and far between. Most owners are either corporations (like The Trib Co) that have shareholders to answer to or they are conservative business people who don’t share the same love for the team that the fans do.

Mark Cuban is unique among professional sports team owners. When I say I want the Trib Co to sell, I do so with the stipulation that a well healed fan of the team with a commitment to winning buys it. Otherwise, I’m not all that crazy about the Trib Co selling.

* * * * *

As Bill Madden at the New York Daily News predicted on Sunday, Alan Trammell has signed on as Lou Piniella’s bench coach. Trammell will also be the club’s infield instructor. The only other coach confirmed for next year is pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Mike Quade, manager of the AAA Iowa Cubs, has been rumored to be joining Piniella’s staff as a 1st or 3rd base coach. Previously, it was rumored that 3rd base coach Chris Spier would be back, but since Trammell is taking on the duties of infield instructor, it makes it less likely that Spier will be part of Lou’s coaching staff.


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