Tom Ricketts

Tom Ricketts distances the Cubs from the anti-Obama campaign presented to his father


Followup from this morning’s New York Times story about Joe Ricketts being pitched to bankroll that anti-Obama campaign.  Son Tom, chairman of the Cubs, issued a statement:

“As chairman of the Chicago Cubs, I repudiate any return to racially divisive issues in this year’s presidential campaign or in any setting — like my father has,” Tom Ricketts said in the statement. “I shall have no further comment on this or any other election year political issue. My full-time focus is on making the Chicago Cubs a World Series champion preserving Wrigley Field and making the Chicago Cubs a great corporate citizen.”

I assume that “like my father has” line means that he believes his father has repudiated such politics. Which, while he is now said to have rejected that “extremely literate” black man thing mentioned this morning, he hasn’t done. The Times still reports him to be “entertaining” it and any number of other initiatives. We’ll see when Joe Ricketts either speaks or acts.*

Also notable, Tom’s sister and Joe’s daughter Laura Ricketts is a big Obama donor. She issued a statement too, supporting both Obama and her father, even if she disagrees with his politics.

I think the absolutely most notable thing about all of this is that what seems to be driving the statements the most is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s angry reaction to the Times story this morning. Apparently, as the city is in talks with the Cubs about Wrigley Field renovations, Emmanuel was none too pleased to hear that the Cubs’ patriarch is going after Emmanuel’s old boss.

Which, while understandable, is reason number 1,456 against public funding for ballparks.  If you pay your own way, you don’t have to care a lick of what partisan politicians — especially the hotheaded ones — feel about your views on the world, and then you don’t have to issue statements like Tom Ricketts just had to.

*Also, can we dispense with the notion that Joe Ricketts had no intention whatsoever in bankrolling a campaign intended to smear Obama personally? This was a slick 54-page proposal accompanied by a personal presentation. One doesn’t come off the street and pitch that kind of thing cold like Fuller brushes or Kirby vacuums. Such proposals are requested and such requests have guidelines about what they’re looking for.  I’m assuming Ricketts didn’t ask for the stuff about “an extremely literate” black man, but unless the political operatives who pitched it were the worst ever at their job, they were certainly delivering to Ricketts something in the ballpark of what he wanted to see.

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty

Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.