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The Daily Belli watch: 37 days to the Spring Training opener

A look at how the Cubs separate the baseball and business sides.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to BCB reader toppsmike for suggesting the title of this series, which, yes, I am going to post daily until Cody Bellinger is signed, hopefully by the Cubs.

This article isn’t about Bellinger specifically, but focuses on a quote from Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney in this Tribune article by Meghan Montemurro:

While business operations and baseball operations are independent entities, they rely on each other to fuel success.

“I don’t think Jed (Hoyer) cares whether we have concerts, football games, hockey games or golf, like we did last year, as long as we’re generating revenue, and in many ways, I don’t care if Jed builds a great team through player development, international free agency or trades — he lets us run our business as well as we can and we do the same there,” Kenney told the Tribune.

“On the other hand, a great product on the field gives us the chance of selling more tickets, engaging more corporate partners, generating better ratings on the air and the vice versa of that is when we generate more revenue, (Hoyer) can put more money to work on, for instance, our pitching and hitting lab they’re building in Arizona, scouting, player development, free agency.

“So we’re incredibly dependent on each other, but we kind of operate in silos.”

This brings up a very interesting point. It was only a little more than a decade ago when the Cubs split the role of team president in two after theo Epstein was hired, and made a President of Baseball Operations and President of Business Operations. Now, many teams have two people operating these departments. Before that, there used to be one team president and a general manager under him (and yes, all men back then) who ran baseball operations. The team’s business side was run by a business manager (generally titled Vice President) who ran the financial side of the team.

In recent years it’s become clear that the responsibilities of both ends of a baseball franchise have become too large for one person, and also big enough that both people should have the title of President.

But the quote from Crane Kenney is cogent for this reason: He says that a better product on the field is going to make them more money. This should be blindingly obvious, but in some ways Jed Hoyer has run the team as if saving ownership money is the priority. Clearly, we as fans disagree with that contention. “Spend money!” say some. “It’s not my money!” If you buy tickets or a cable subscription or a direct-to-consumer Marquee Sports Network app, then yes, in some small way, it is partly your money, but that’s not the point.

The point is that Jed ought to not be afraid to spend more money in free agency. The other things Crane mentioned — player development, scouting, the pitch lab — all do help make a better baseball team, but it’s the big free agency splashes that get people to buy tickets and get more attention to the team, perhaps increasing TV ratings and getting more corporate sponsorships sold.

Oh, yes, Cody Bellinger. Well, he’s one of those guys who can move the needle for the business side. By the end of last year I think I saw more Bellinger jerseys in the stands at Wrigley Field than any other current player. For lack of a better term, he brings star power to the Cubs. No, of course a team shouldn’t sign a player for that reason alone, but if he brings both good play and can sell jerseys, that’s got to be another selling point.

Want to sell some more of those? Get Bellinger signed.

That’s your Belli watch for today.