Cubs GM Hoyer: Minority owners can be helpful
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter April 4, 2014 11:36PM
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 04: Darwin Barney #15 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after fouling off a pitch in the 3rd inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during the home opener at Wrigley Field on April 4, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 477579707
PHILLIES AT CUBS
The facts: 1:20 p.m., CSN, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Cliff Lee (1-0, 14.40 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (0-0, 0.00)
Updated: May 6, 2014 6:20AM
Cubs baseball executives wouldn’t speculate on how a plan by ownership to take on minority investors might impact the front office’s rebuilding plan.
But general manager Jed Hoyer, who saw effective use of minority ownership when he was with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres, calls the idea a ‘‘positive’’ for the Cubs.
‘‘It’s something that’s common in baseball,’’ he said. ‘‘The other two organizations I’ve been in had a ton of minority owners. In a lot of ways, some of those guys added expertise from a business or from their careers that was helpful in other ways.’’
Chairman Tom Ricketts said the minority-investor plan was only an ‘‘option’’ being considered by ownership to help fund the Wrigley Field renovation project. But it’s clear the business operation is well down the road in its planning and intent to raise money from the non-voting shares of the team.
The franchise’s value has increased by more than 40 percent to $1.2 billion, according to Forbes, in 4 ½ years of Ricketts ownership.
‘‘I see it as a positive,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘I hope we find minority partners that can assist us in a lot of ways.’’
Asked about the roster-purging policies that have helped stock the farm system the last two years, Hoyer said, ‘‘It’s obviously something you want to get away from in time. It’s not a great thing for a team culture for [the media] to be asking questions of guys early on, ‘Are you getting moved in July?’ [But] we’ve made that a trend by doing it two years in a row.’’
Count on a third this year. When that will change — with big-leaguers added at the deadline instead — is unclear, but Hoyer said getting closer to that ‘‘culture’’ is important.
‘‘But given the [collective bargaining agreement], and given the restrictions on getting young players, you wouldn’t be looking at Mike Olt and Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez almost making the team,” he said of players acquired in last summer’s Matt Garza trade. ‘‘You wouldn’t be looking at those guys if we didn’t make those tough decisions.’’
Wood chipping in
Travis Wood pitching one out into the sixth, allowing three earned runs, gave the Cubs three quality starts in the first four games.
‘‘I’d like to have a couple pitches back,’’ Wood said, referring in part to Chase Utley’s go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth. ‘‘But other than that, I thought I kept them pretty off-balance and kept us in the game.’’
The rotation has a 1.80 ERA.
Prospect Jorge Soler, who was slowed this spring by a hamstring injury, aggravated it running out a double in Class AA Tennessee’s opener and was to have an MRI exam Friday. Officials don’t expect it to be a long-term injury.
◆ The Cubs still haven’t decided whether to stick with Carlos Villanueva for his scheduled start Sunday after he made two relief appearances in Pittsburgh, manager Rick Renteria said.