(CBS) In early April, the Cubs’ brass came under fire after Sun-Times Cubs reporter Gordon Wittenmyer told The Mully and Hanley Show he thought Theo Epstein and Co. were going about their rebuilding process all wrong.
Wittenmyer argued the Cubs were stockpiling money by not going after big-name free agents, while still raising ticket prices at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were rebuilding on the cheap, Wittenmyer said, and the fans we’re being duped.
“I’m certainly not advocating throwing money at every free agent that comes along every year,” Wittenmyer said. “We’ve seen colossal failures in that philosophy across the league. … They’re pocketing a lot of money for instance on the rebuild process.
“This is the first time in the history of 30 years of free agency, 30-plus years, where a major-market team has intentionally gone into seasons rebuilding with youth and on the cheap. They’re not doing it (by) scaling back ticket prices to any degree that matters – they’re still the third-highest prices in the game. I don’t know what they’re saying they’re selling, but it’s not competitive baseball. They’re selling Theo, they’re selling hope.”
Today, Epstein joined The McNeil and Spiegel Show and said the Cubs are spending as much money as they possibly can on their Major League team.
When asked why the Cubs couldn’t rebuild and restock, while staying competitive at the Major League level, Epstein responded with:
“It’s not a choice,” he said. “We are not making a fundamental choice to only focus on the future. We’re not withholding dollars from this year’s team. We are spending every dollar that we have on this baseball team. We maxed out our payroll last year and we maxed out our payroll this year. It’s not a choice. It’s not like we’re making a conscious decision to say, ‘Hey, let’s withhold $15-20 million from the 2012 or 2013 payroll because we don’t think we’re quite good enough to spend it there. Let’s save it for a rainy day. Or let’s save it so we can get that free agent in 2016.'”
Epstein said the Cubs need things like the Wrigley Filed renovations and a new TV deal to continue to pump money into the team.
“The baseball department is spending every dollar that is allocated to baseball operations,” he said. “Yeah, we’re spending it in the draft and we’re spending it in the minor leagues. There’s only so much you can spend there. We’re also spending every dollar we have available on the Major League payroll. We need a renovated Wrigley Field to produce more revenue. We need new TV deals so we can generate significant local revenue that way.”