Tom Ricketts joined Mully and Hanley (670 The Score) following the Cactus League openers to talk about his team. One of the big topics discussed during the interview were the recent headlines that were made about the Cubs talking to the Brewers about playing at Miller Park despite the fact the team mentioned in January those conversations took place before the Cubs decided to stick with the plan to restore, renovate and expand Wrigley Field over the course of multiple off-seasons.
The Cubs thought about playing home games in Milwaukee at Miller Park for a season and talked to the Brewers about the possibility. The reason the Cubs thought Miller Park would be a better fit than U.S. Cellular was because of the roof. The Cubs would not have to worry about rainouts at Miller Park, plus they know what a challenge it is to keep the field at Wrigley playable throughout the season and U.S. Cellular would not have been able to handle 162 games.
It takes more time and money to do the project the way the Cubs are going about it, but the family did not want to shutdown Wrigley for a year and have the Cubs play home games at a different location. Plus not playing at Wrigley would feel like a road game to the players. Bottom line the only reason Miller Park was even considered is because of the control over the climate.
Tom Ricketts could not talk about the rooftop situation. He did say he is confident that everything with the rooftops is heading in right direction and a resolution that works for both sides will be agreed to soon.
“We are very proud of that project in Mesa,” Ricketts said. He made a point to say he could not be happier with the way the ballpark and the team’s facilities turned out in Mesa.
There are expectations for the Cubs this season for the first time since the Ricketts family bought the team. The organization has been built from the ground up and many publications think the Cubs have the top farm system in the game.
This off-season, the team hired one of the best managers in baseball, signed one of the top free agent starting pitchers and brought in veterans to help take the big league team to the next level and win ballgames.
Several of the players and management are on record saying they feel the Cubs can win the division this year and everything seems to be coming together for the organization.
“We just knew that we had to basically rebuild the foundation of the baseball side of the organization. Then you kind of let the chips fall where they may.”
“Obviously a lot of guys have come along very quickly,” Ricketts said. “Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] and the baseball guys felt it was time this year to add some free agents, some veterans to round out the lineup and we think we are the kind of team that can win the division.”
And Joe Maddon has brought leadership and a positive attitude into the clubhouse.
“Yeah, he’s a special guy. Obviously a lot of charisma, a lot of positive energy, players love playing for him and he’s the best in the game. We’re just really fortunate to have him.”
Tom Ricketts has maintained Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have the money to spend on free agents when they need it. And the Cubs went out and signed Jon Lester this off-season.
“It comes down to making the best possible bets you can. Money is a finite resource at every team, more finite at the Cubs than at the Yankees as we have to be careful about where we put the money. Basically that’s why you hire guys you trust. We trust the baseball organization to place their bets where they think it makes the most sense.”
Theo Epstein has been saying for several years that the baseball side and business side were synced up and running on a parallel timeline. Epstein has it made it clear that he fully anticipates the team to be competing for a spot in October every year at the same time the business side has completed Wrigley Field and secured the long-term TV contract that is essential to providing the baseball side with the dollars to keep the team competitive.
Tom Ricketts acknowledged the baseball side and the business side is syncing up.
“It is kind of coming together at the same time. We’ve got really exciting teams ahead of us for many, many years and we have a ballpark that’s going to get better every year, too,” Ricketts said. “We are executing on the plan. We are getting there.”
On the subject of Kris Bryant, the business side of the decision and if he’s conflicted as to when Bryant should be called up to the big leagues, Ricketts said he’s not at all conflicted about the decision the baseball department will have to make.
“No, not at all and fans understand that we have to do what’s right for the team in the big picture. I think Theo will do what’s right for the organization so I don’t really have any conflicts at all on that front.”
When asked how he would define 2015 as being a successful season for the Chicago Cubs, Ricketts said, “I think that the entire organization believes that this is time for us to win our division.”
“If we don’t achieve that goal, I think that there will be a lot of disappointment. I think the most important thing is everybody just focus on … all the players coming in, make sure they get healthy and get ready to play, get off to a good start. Let’s play up to our capabilities and have a great summer.”