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According to a study by Team Marketing Report, the Cubs have the highest average ticket price in baseball just ahead of the Boston Red Sox ($52.56 vs $52.32) with the New York Yankees third at $51.83 and the White Sox fourth at $38.65 (I guess shirtless fan attack insurance is expensive). The average ticket price in baseball is $26.79. The Cubs are second in Fan Cost Index (the price of taking a family of four to a game) to the Red Sox ($329.74 vs. $334.71). The Cubs also raised ticket prices by 10.1%, the second highest increase in baseball behind the Twins and their new stadium. The bulk of that increase being due to the addition of 12 platinum games to their tier-pricing schedule. There is no economic crisis for Cubs fans apparently.

While this is unfortunate news for anyone trying to raise their kids as Cubs fans, I don't think it's a coincidence that Boston and the Cubs lead the pack. Two of the more popular teams that play in old stadiums with limited capacity and amenities. Say what you will about the Cubs whoring out Wrigley with things like the Toyota sign, but it's a drop in the bucket to what most stadiums do, especially with their fancy jumbotrons. The economic laws of supply and demand certainly contribute, the Cubs can charge so much because people will pay so much and the cycle continues. Nonetheless, when going to a baseball game takes as much planning and budgeting as a family vacation, it's a sad reality that kids will be limited to their exposure to Wrigley Field as they grow up. Of course, with the typical crowd that seems to now take in a Cubs game, that might not be so bad.

PS - Thanks to Rob Richardson in the comments for the link, but Rob Neyer has his take on this article and explains the Fan Cost Index which includes: 2 adult tickets, 2 kids tickets, 4 soft drinks, 2 beers, 4 hot dogs, 2 programs, Parking and 2 Adult-size caps. So yeah, that's an insanely bogus little metric they've invented.

Judging by the number of hits and comments, you guys are either ridiculously bored or still passionate about the Cubs...or just like to argue. I find myself rather indifferent after the holiday break, the Cubs instilling no confidence in me that they know what they're doing and seemingly content to blame the entire failure of 2009 on Milton Bradley and injuries.

I did score my usual swag of Cubs gifts for Christmas. The Angel Fan Wife got me this 1984 Cubs cap, plus I got a new Cubs jersey to add to my collection and various other Cubs-themed knick knacks that always seem to find my stocking including a Cubs-themed Connect Four. I tried to teach the G Twins how to play, but they seemed more interested in making pretty patterns with the red and blue pieces and then releasing the support bar from the bottom so all the tiles came crashing down.

Fun little sidenote about the G twins and living in a split household. Back during the playoffs while the Angels were making a little run, they were of course on the TV a lot. A few days after getting eliminated by the Yankees, I was watching another game and one of my daughters asked where the Angels were. I explained that they lost in the playoffs and that there season was over. Her little lip started to quiver, she whimpered "It's ooover...why?" and the sobbing began. Sadly, that probably won't be the last time she cries about baseball.

Here's the update to the Free Agent Frenzy contest. One person got Rich Harden right (for 10 pts), another Jason Bay(for 8 pts) and a third person got DeRosa to the Giants (for 5 pts).

Here's a link to an All-Decade Team at The Blue Workhorse. Corey Patterson is on it and I don't think it's meant to be sarcastic.

Stop by and wish Aisle 424 a happy birthday, one of the finer new Cubs blogs to emerge in my opinion.

A detailed look into how the Ricketts are financing their loans.

Ken Rosenthal predicts the Cubs will sign Ben Sheets.

May the New Year bring love, joy, peace and a pennant for the Cubs.

Nothing too exciting last night, Rich Harden worked out of a lot of trouble his last three innings, but did strike out 9 in 7 innings without giving up a home run. Milton Bradley went 2/4 with an RBI, a ricochet short of going 3-4. Soto and Fox continue to hit as well and the Marmol/Gregg combo actually did their job. Then we all remember it's the Pirates.

- The Southern League annouced their All-Star rosters and the Tennessee Smokies placed six:  Position players Jim Adduci, Darwin Barney and Blake Lalli will join teammates Casey Coleman, Jay Jackson and Brian Schlitter. 

- Barney will be headed to Triple A though along with a number of other promotions yesterday. Top picks Andrew Cashner and Josh Viiters will each move up a level, Cashner to Double A Tennessee and Vitters to Hi A Daytona. Cub Carpenter will  join Vitters on the ride to Daytona. 1B John Contreras makes the jump from Boise to Daytona, 2b Nathan Samson goes to Tennessee and 1b Ryan Keedy has been released.

-  I stumbled across this old Q&A with Bill James which touches on a wide variety of topics, some Cubs related.

UPDATE: Bill James and Joe Posnanski more recently talked about the age 33 fall-off. Cubs that are 33 this season: Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Freel. So is Ted Lilly, but the discussion focuses on offense.

- Milton Bradley is going to get a few days off to work on his left-handed swing with Von Joshua. The Cubs will likely go with Sam Fuld in center and Kosuke Fukudome in right field.

- 57% of Cubs fan agree with Phil Rogers that the Cubs should put Carlos Zambrano on waivers and see if anyone will take his contract off the Cubs hands. Probably the same 57% that applauded Mark DeRosa each time he came up in Wrigley.

- Barring any setbacks, Aramis Ramirez will begin a rehab assignment on Thursday, it's unknown which lucky affiliate will benefit from the added gate receipts.  If all goes well, he could be back in the lineup against Atlanta next Monday.

- A poll of players around MLB conducted by Sports Illustrated came up with Lou Piniella as the manager players would least like to play for...Ozzie Guillen finishing second.

- If you're looking for a write-up on Aaron Miles elbow problems from Dr. Hecht...

I'd do an ortho writeup on Miles hyperextended elbow... but honestly, who cares other than Sam Fuld.

Some stuff I've been meaning to mention...

- Scout.com's top 5 hitting prospects at the moment...

  1. Jake Fox
  2. Josh Harrison
  3. Tony Thomas
  4. Brad Snyder
  5. Rebel Ridling

and on the pitching side...

  1. Dan McDaniel
  2. Jose Ascanio
  3. Ryan Searle
  4. Chris Archer
  5. Chris Carpenter

 - This article is a couple weeks old, but Craig Brown has figured out what is wrong wtih Derrek Lee from the comfort of his computer. While the data he presents courtesy of Fangraphs is interesting in of itself, you have to love the conclusion he conjured up.

For starters, he needs to lay off all pitches outside the strike zone
and focus only on those pitches that are over the plate - the pitches
where he can actually accomplish something productive.  Then, he needs
to concentrate on making solid contact.

So swing at strikes Derrek and make sure it's good contact when you do swing...a hitting coach in the making.

- Most of you have probably seen this one already, but History Channel did some morose show about life on Earth after all the people died. They imagined what would happen to Wrigley Field in the process.

 - Joe Aiello at VFTB  is asking Cubs fans to fill out his "Cubs Confidence Survey".

- Want all your Cubs news in one place (or any other team?), try Baseball Tribune.

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With the Cubs announcing that #31 will be retired in honor of Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, waxpaperbeercup recently asked if the Cubs should retire #21 in honor of Jason Marquis? Suprisingly, 40% thought the Cubs should do so...which I thought was a bit high for someone that was a Cub for just two years. 

All kidding aside, it's an intriguing question and I imagine I'll get a similar response here, but let's try it anway. For anyone who reads this site regularly, they'll know where I stand when it comes to Sammy Sosa. The man deserves far more gratitude from Cubs fans than the vitriol that seems to be prevalent, but let's put it to a vote and see if we can up the sample size.

 

Just a few quick hits worth mentioning...

- First round pick Andrew Cashner, who was cut yesterday, has a strained oblique.

- Bud says talks are still ongoing on the sale betweeen Ricketts and the Tribune. It doesn't sound too optimistic that it will get done by Opening Day with Selig saying that there are still issues that need to be resolved.

A few more links from this afternoon and an invitation to Parachat for tonight's game on WGN per request by Carlos. I may stop by after the kids are in bed.

- If you're worried about Milton Bradley being healthy enough this season and need a national writer in your corner, Joe Sheehan has your back.

That's why this signing was a mistake. It has nothing to do with Bradley's anger-management issues, ones that have defined his career. It has nothing to do with Bradley's skill set as a hitter. It has nothing to do with the money, which was in line with what Adam Dunn and Raul Ibañez signed for. No, the problem is that the Cubs signed a player to do a job that he's not capable of doing. Signing Milton Bradley to be an everyday outfielder is like signing Mark Prior to make 34 starts, or trading for Carlos Delgado to be your catcher, or bringing in Will Carroll to endorse hair-care products. You're asking people to do things their bodies long ago stopped being able to do, and that's a recipe for failure.

- Bradley did return to the lineup and went 1-3 with a double. On cue, the beat writers get to file their weekly "Is Milton Crazy or Not?" report.  

- This shouldn't be news to any of our loyal readers, but Fangraphs notices that the Cubs pitchers have a eight year streak of leading the majors in strikeout rate and wonders if the Giants staff can surpass them this year. I'm a bit too lazy to look it up, but I believe the Cubs were in second or third for a good portion of last season until they acquired Rich Harden (and probably some injuries to the staffs ahead of them).

- "Blame Paul Bako" - the title says it all. (Hat tip to Wrigleyville23)

A tour of the latest from the web...

-  A rather random rumor that the Cubs may have some interest in A's shortstop Bobby Crosby.He's set to make $5.25M this year, so you know he wouldn't cost much in prospects and the A's would probably have to eat at least half his salary. If he's willing to be a utility guy, he'd be a step up from Aaron Miles. Baseball Prospectus projects Crosby at a .243 EqA versus Miles .232. Defensively, Crosby's been a bit above average (according to UZR) to below average (according to BP) at shortstop but probably has a strong enough arm to handle third base. Of course, he'd be replacing Joey Gathright or Micah Hoffpauir on the roster - unless Lou comes through with a six-man bench - and in that case he'd be replacing Bobby Scales, Jake Fox, Luis Rivas or Corey Koskie, in which we'd finally have an acceptable scenario for acquiring Crosby. That is unless the Cubs wise up quickly on this Aaron Miles fiasco that is about to be unleased upon unsuspecting fans.

- Caption fun with Ted Lilly at Big League Stew. Comment #3 has to be the winner.

- Dave Pinto runs through the Cubs expected offensive output. Marcel Projections and the Lineup Tool come up with 5.15 runs per game with the projected lineup, 5.42 with the optimum lineup. The Cubs scored 5.31 runs per game last year.

UPDATE: One wonderful reader pointed out that the probable lineup has Fukudome batting second which(to steal kmokeefe's line) is improbable (at least to begin the season). Let's try it on our own using the lineup of Soriano, Fontenot, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fukudome, Soto, Theriot and the pitcher as suggested by Lou (actually Lou suggested Aaron Miles batting second, but we'll do that next).

That comes up with 5.29 runs per game. The optimal lineup of Bradley, Soto, Fukudome, Ramirez, Lee, Soriano, Fontenot, Pitcher and Theriot comes up with 5.469 runs per game. Flipping Miles for Fontenot results in: 5.025 runs per game and 5.317 with the computer-generated optimal lineup. 

- Lou took on Steve Phillips...Lou will win.

- Baseball Analysts takes a look at the All-Time One Teamers - the best player at each position to play for only one club. I checked on Ryne Sandberg(80.8) and Ernie Banks (80), but both are out-WARP'd by the author's choices of  Charlie Gehringer (85.3) and Cal Ripken Jr. (120.7). I was quite surprised to see Lou Whitaker(85.7) with a better career WARP-3 than Sandberg; I think I'll need to add him to my subjective Hall of Fame class.

UPDATE #2: Clearly I need an editor, as it was pointed out that Sandberg played 13 games for the Phillies in 1981.

- The miracles of science. We'll be taking donations for TCR's own $10,000 electrolysis machine in April.

- Split-squad action today, Cubs travel to Goodyear to take on the Indians; Carl Pavano vs. Chad Gaudin to start. Milton Bradley will DH in that game as well. Here's the lineup from Muskat:

CF Joey Gathright, SS Aaron Miles, 1B Derrek Lee, DH Bradley, LF Jason Dubois, RF Brad Snyder, 3B Bobby Scales, 2B Nate Spears.

Jeff Samardzija will lead the team in Las Vegas tonight versus the White Sox. MLB.com shows radio for the Indians game and TV for the White Sox game.

We've been meaning to do this most of the offseason, but I think we've finally settled on a date. So Sunday, February 22nd at 9PM CST, we're going to gather in Parachat and watch the Kerry Wood 20K game. We know a lot of you own the Chicago Cubs DVD set and that's what most of us will be watching. I believe they showed the game on MLB Network recently, so maybe you Tivo'd it. Considering we normally have people watching from various different feeds during the season, we'll figure out how to sync it up to everyone's satsifaction. If you don't have access to the game and want to partake in the festivities, drop a note in the comments and I think we can work out something.

So come join us and get your Parachat fix on, Transmission will be doing one of his game recaps. I believe it's Oscar night as well, so that should give us some good material as well.

UPDATE: One of our dear readers points out that you can purchase the game from Itunes for about $2.

More fun after the jump...

- The Cubs purchased the contract of catcher Shawn McGill from the Lincoln Saltdogs of the (cutting and pasting) American Association of Independent Professional Baseball. McGill will be at spring training as one of the extra catchers around to help with all the extra pitchers around.

- Cubs.com with an article on some of the Korean players the Cubs have signed.

- Individual game tickets for 2009 games at Wrigley Field go on sale on February 20th. Our readers say skip the virtual waiting room and just call.

- Cubs special assistant Gary Hughes inducted into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame.

- Matt Murton traded to the Colorado Rockies for minor league infielder Corey Wimberly. Good luck to Orange Guy.

- New York trades Wright to the Brewers...give it a sec....then give reader John Beasley credit for that one.

- Don't mess with Edinson Volquez.

-  Ken Rosenthal doesn't believe the new owner in San Diego will change the Jake Peavy situation too much.

- Aramis Ramirez is going to sit out of the WBC because he doesn't want to back-up A-Fraud.

-  An interview with Cubs radio play-by-play man Pat Hughes at Chicago Cubs Online.

-  A little site news, at the bottom of each story below the comment box you'll see the RSS icon , you can now subscribe to comments to an individual post. You can also add this link to your favorite RSS reader for site-wide comments. They only show up in flat view, so no threaded comments and it doesn't seem to update too frequently in my Google Reader so far, but it's available.

Also, we have a Twitter page too thanks to Cubnut (there's a widget on the sidebar as well) and we've had a Facebook page apparently since last year thanks to Ruz. Anyone know of a Twitter widget that will display all the feeds of the people you're following?

Some reading material to hold you over...

- John Dewan at ACTA Sports points out that if the Cubs do acquire Jake Peavy, they'll have 3 of the top 10 pitchers in opposing OPS over the last 5 years.

- Speaking of Peavy, the latest rumors were for Vitters, Jeff Stevens, Garrett Olson, Welington Castillo and Kevin Hart according to Bruce Levine or,  if you prefer Lee Hamilton on XM Radio,  Vitters, Olson, Hart and Sean Marshall.

- The Levine link above also says the Cubs seem more interested in a shortstop, third base and second base back-up, such as Juan Uribe, over a first and third back-up. It appears Micah Hoffpauir may not have the roster spot we all assumed.

- A look at Ronny Cedeno over at Fangraphs.

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