Tom Ricketts believes Cubs ‘can go to the playoffs’
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter February 19, 2014 9:35PM
Updated: February 20, 2014 2:30AM
MESA, Ariz. — If Tom Ricketts knows something the rest of the world doesn’t, he needs to make a quick stop in Las Vegas on his way back to Chicago and solve all the Cubs’ financial issues with one trip to the sports book.
“I think we have a team right now that can go to the playoffs,” the Cubs’ chairman said Wednesday during his annual spring media conference. “We have a good young nucleus. We have to have guys that step up. … We’ve not giving anything up this year. The fact is, these guys step up and they play to their potential, we’re going to be fine.”
Pretty bold statement for a guy who cut the club’s payroll budget for the third consecutive year and hasn’t had a winning season in four years since buying the team.
One apparently stunned baseball writer pointed out the Cubs’ recent woes and lack of impact players added over the winter, then asked how Ricketts came to his conclusion.
“Look, every few years it happens somewhere,” he said. “There are teams that flip it around in one season. We have a good young nucleus of guys, and if they get back on their career trajectories that we anticipate they will — and we have a great new manager and a lot of positive energy coming through. Anything can happen.”
Tom Ricketts offered no timetable or specifics on where the rooftop battle stands but said he remains optimistic for resolution in time to start ballpark renovations when the season ends.
◆ Asked if he believed Wrigley Field construction would be done by now if he had threatened to move at the outset of the process, Ricketts said: “You can’t talk hypothetically. … And you can’t just pretend Wrigley Field is another ballpark, like something built out in some suburb somewhere that’s 20 years old and nobody cares about. I don’t think it would be realistic to say that just ripping a page out of any other team’s playbook would apply to us. We have a special situation, and we’ve respected that and acted accordingly.”
◆ Ricketts said he has no regrets five years later about accepting the debt-heavy purchase terms Sam Zell demanded of any buyer of the team: “We’ll get through it all. It’ll be fine. And we’re doing the smart things that are building the future of the organization as well as putting a good team on the field.”