The Cubs are following in the Red Sox’ footsteps

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We know they’ve hired Theo Epstein and are looking at the same managerial candidates, but one other way in which the Cubs are aping the Red Sox is in their approach to their historic old ballpark:  they wanna make it a cash cow.

We’ve talked about that a lot over the past couple of years, but this story in the New York Times from over the weekend outlines and updates that nicely enough.  Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is even quoted in their saying that Epstein’s experience with the renovation in Boston was a plus for him being hired in Chicago.  I’m assuming it’s because he knows how to do drywall or something, because otherwise I presume renovations will be handled by building professionals, not baseball executives.

Anyway, the Cubs are going to be interesting to watch over the next five years. I don’t think Epstein is a god or anything, but I really get the feeling that something new is happening and that the Cubs aren’t going to continue to be an easy punchline for organizational ineptness going forward.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.