The State of Illinois will not pay for Wrigley Field renovations

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Good news: the Ricketts’ shameless campaign to get the State of Illinois to pay for renovations to Wrigley Field is dead in the water:

The Cubs’ plan to use 35 years’ worth of amusement-tax growth to finance a $200 million renovation of Wrigley Field — and back-stop the bonds with a 2 percent hotel tax — is dead, sources said Wednesday.

The setback for a plan the Cubs had hoped to ram through the state Legislature’s fall veto session has sent team officials back to the drawing board to search for alternatives that might include creating a tax-increment-financing (TIF) district around Wrigley.

Of course this doesn’t mean its over, as most of the linked article is spent discussing alternative ways the Cubs could get either the city or the state to pay for the upkeep to their building that they themselves should be paying. It’s all fairly non-critical too which is regrettable. I’m not saying that the news story should be an editorial against public financing of ballparks, but you’d think there would be at least one quote from a person who thinks it’s bad government to have taxpayers underwriting an anti-tax zealot billionaire’s vanity investment. And yes, such people do exist. If they didn’t the legislature wouldn’t be killing the current plan.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.