Final Wrigley renovation plans to be reviewed
Cubs hope to compromise with rooftop association before $500M project begins
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Chicago City Council will meet Wednesday to review final changes made to the Wrigley Field $500 million renovation plan. However, before the project begins, the Cubs want the rooftop association to agree not to sue the team over blocked views.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said Tuesday he was not sure how close the team was in terms of an agreement with the Wrigleyville Rooftop Association. Ricketts was at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday to attend the Cubs' annual dinner with their Minor League affiliates.
"There's been a lot of ideas thrown out," Ricketts said regarding attempts by the team and rooftop owners to reach a compromise. "I'm not sure where we're at in terms of 'closeness.'"
On Tuesday, the city's panel on Transportation and Public Way approved the plan to move Wrigley Field's property lines farther into Sheffield and Waveland Avenues than what had been previously approved. That would extend Wrigley Field's footprint and allow the Cubs to move exterior outfield walls back to accommodate new signage. In return, the Cubs will pay $3.75 million over the next 10 years into a fund to be used for infrastructure improvements to the area, according to reports.
Even if the plan is approved, the Cubs still must deal with the rooftop owners who oppose the video scoreboard proposed for left field and the script see-through sign proposed for right.
Ricketts said Tuesday the Cubs would like to do both signs at the same time.
"We're looking at everything as a package," Ricketts said.
Cubs' closer competition wide open
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs may go to Spring Training and let the relievers battle it out for the closer's job.
"In theory, we can," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday at the baseball Winter Meetings. "I think we have people on the roster who can certainly hold down that job. At that point, it would be on [manager Rick Renteria] to name a closer in Spring Training. I'm not sure that will happen or not. I think we have more power arms on the roster and we feel better about our bullpen. We do still want to add to it."
The list of candidates includes Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon. However, the Cubs are looking at adding some relievers and hoping the chance to be a closer could entice some free agents.
"In free agency, opportunity is a great thing," Hoyer said. "When you have that opportunity, it's something you can take advantage of."
Renteria did admit that managing the bullpen is the "most critical part of the ballgame." He'd like to have roles established for each pitcher.
"We're a club that's in transition," Renteria said Tuesday. "Like on any baseball club, roles are defined over time and established by the players who are out performing, and over time, they chip away at who they are and what they're about. I think you need to use your bullpen according to the situation."
Kevin Gregg took over the closer's duties last season when Carlos Marmol struggled and was then traded and Kyuji Fujikawa was injured. Gregg is now a free agent.
Cubs continue to search for starting pitcher help
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs used nine different starting pitchers last season -- including Scott Baker, who started three games in September -- and they want to make sure they have enough depth. General manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday the goal is to add at least one and possibly two more starting pitchers before the season begins.
So far, the rotation includes Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta, with Chris Rusin and Carlos Villanueva possibly getting starts. The Cubs have had talks with Baker's agent about the possibility of the right-hander returning for another season. Baker spent most of the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
Whether that extra pitcher is Masahiro Tanaka has not been determined, as Major League Baseball and Japan baseball officials sort through the posting process.
"In general, we only need one starter in theory," Hoyer said, "but we know we'll go through a lot more starters. We're in on a lot of starting pitchers and we could well sign more than one starter. That's a possibility. Someone is going to be hurt, someone could go to the bullpen for a short amount of time. I feel it's a dangerous game playing that 'just enough' starting pitcher game. Could we add more than one starting pitcher this winter? Absolutely."
On Tuesday, Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, Hoyer and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein continued their meetings with agents and teams.
"I think we've laid the groundwork and we'll keep doing that," Hoyer said. "It's boring to say, but that's what you do here. You have meeting after meeting and try to kick ideas off each other. You hope that having the big group here and having everyone in the same building will lead to a little more creativity."
• Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez joked that they will have to change their signs when they face the Cubs because of new Chicago first-base coach Eric Hinske, who played in Atlanta.
"It brings a smile to my face," Gonzalez said when asked about Hinske on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. "He was a coach long before he knew he was a coach, because of his presence in the clubhouse.
"He's going to hold those players accountable. He is a smart baseball person. And nobody wants to win more than he does. He brings that experience to the postseason. ... I think the Cubs are lucky to have a guy like that."
Hinske played 12 seasons, including three in Atlanta, and finished his career this past season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.