Don Draper

Chicago ad agencies angry at the Cubs for hiring a New York firm

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I’m guessing a baseball team hiring service providers like lawyers, accountants and ad agencies from other cities is pretty common, but I’m drawn to this story anyway. Why? Because I was years behind watching “Mad Men,” and in the last month or so I have been catching up, often by watching two episodes or sometimes even three in one evening.

The things we do when we have tons of free time.

Anyway, I’m up to the beginning of season 4, so I’m gonna be all finished and ready when the new season starts in March.  And I’m totally ready to tear into this little bit of Chicago Cubs business gossip:

In the eyes of a lot of local ad executives, the Chicago Cubs have just struck out.  Big time.

The team lost a big chunk of potential fans from Chicago’s advertising industry in recent days when the Cubs rather quietly announced it had retained a New York-based ad agency, quaintly-named The Brooklyn Brothers, to orchestrate its newest ad campaign with the theme line “Baseball Is Better.”

Cut to Don Draper’s office. Don, having just heard some bad news about his wife/mistress/person from his weird past/Roger/Someone, sits back in his chair with an impatient, annoyed look on his face as the creative team pitches him ideas.

Paul Kinsey:  It’s simple. A picture of a player hitting a baseball and the slogan “Baseball is Better.”

Don Draper [pauses, takes a drag from his Lucky Strike]: “Baseball is Better?”  Better than what? You’re asking me to compare Chicago Cubs baseball to all sorts of things to do in Chicago. I hate to say it, but those other things are going to sound better to me now that I think about them.”

Paul [looks down, sullen, defeated]

Peggy Olson [quickly, hopeful]:  Not better than, better when. “Better when the ball hits Waveland Avenune.”  “Better when it’s played in front of ivy-covered walls.”

Don [takes a gulp of Canadian Club]: Too desperate. Baseball is better. It’s always better and always will be. By merely introducing these thoughts we’re suggesting that it’s an argument baseball has to make rather than have it be assumed. Get back at it. Try harder. I can’t do all of this myself.

Don leaves to have a meaningless tryst with a woman far more interesting than his wife Betty.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.