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Is the Cubs' Sale Hijacking Their Season?

When Major League Baseball announced that it had approved a preliminary agreement between the Ricketts family and the Tribune company for the Cubs, there was a lot of speculative enthusiasm. Tom Ricketts, the family figurehead, is a lifelong Cubs fan and native Chicagoan who many thought had the potential to infuse the additional capital Chicago's NL team needs to get over the top.

Instead, the Ricketts family's negotiations for the final price of the club have stalled, leaving the distinct possibility that the Cubs could remain in Tribune control for all of this year, a reality that could greatly decrease the club's chances of dealing for a key asset at the trade deadline.

In an article from the Associated Press, Gary Weitman, a spokesman from the Tribune Company, sounded this note of caution regarding the team's sale:

Weitman says the Tribune is still in talks with the Ricketts family "with an eye toward reaching a definitive agreement."

That doesn't sound like a deal that's on the verge of completion, does it? The now-elongated negotiations can't be comforting to Cubs fans, either.

As for the players who are paid by the owners, they're ancillary pawns in the richer ownership battle. The "asset" most frequently connected with the Cubs is currently-injured Padres ace Jake Peavy, though there's mounting speculation that the team could be in on a bushel of other players, should manager Lou Pinella's frustration with his current lineup continue.

All of those pieces will be all but unattainable for General Manager Jim Hendry under the team's current ownership structure. Hendry may not be the most creative of all general managers, but he's always willing to try and add something at the cost of prospects. Usually, bringing on more payroll is a significant part of the equation that lands those players.

Not this year, under the current holding ownership of Sam Zell, the chairman of the Tribune Co. And if the Ricketts' negotiations for the team continue to scuffle, the Cubs may have to deal with the long-term ramifications of the delayed ownership shift, too.

By Cameron Smith  |  June 18, 2009; 4:37 PM ET
Categories:  Cubs  | Tags: Cubs, Tom Ricketts, owners  
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