As referenced in a Bullet over the weekend, Chicago Cubs Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts addressed both the team and the media in Mesa recently, discussing a wide variety of interesting topics.

  • On his message to the team for 2012: “My message is, we talk about let’s use all 40 days [of Spring Training] as best as we can and just communicate with them. One of the things I talk about is making sure if there’s something we can do better, let us know. We want to be the best organization in baseball. If there’s feedback, make sure it gets up to us so we can do the best that we can.” Hopefully the players avail themselves of that advice – I am certain that management would like to know how the players feel about how the organization is being run, particularly with respect to training tools and facilities. Now is the time for the Cubs to be making those improvements.
  • On his expectations for the team, and on appropriate fan expectations for the team, in 2012: “We’re not preaching patience. We’re preaching: have expectations. Expect these guys to play hard. Expect them to compete every game. Expect them to have a great season. It’s not about patience. We have a great team, and we’re going to have a great year …. You can’t do anything about [predictions that the Cubs won’t be competitive]. All you can do is take a look at the guys that are in that room and see how hard they want to win. Dale and the guys are going to make them play hard. I think if everyone stays healthy and everybody does what they’re supposed to do, we’re going to have a great season.” You wouldn’t expect a savvy owner to say anything else.
  • On “The Cubs Way”: “What they’re doing is they’re putting everything down on paper and they’re signing off on it. Everybody is working together to create something that everyone buys into. So, not only does it help you be more consistent in the way you treat players and the way you train players, everyone buys in. You’re accountable, and that’s a big part of The Cubs Way.”
  • On Wrigley Field renovations forcing the Cubs to play a season elsewhere: “There[ are] no plans for us to play anywhere else but Wrigley Field.” I believe him, but, let’s be clear: you could drive a truck through the loopholes he left in that sentence. Ricketts also noted that things remain on track for the Cubs’ new Spring facility to be ready to go for 2014.
  • On funding for Wrigley Field renovations, which is a necessary prerequisite to laying out those kinds of plans: “We’re still just kind of in the situation where we’re talking to all the elected officials that have an interest in this. And I think there’s a lot of general interest in getting to something that works. But we’re still not there yet.” That could really mean anything. The Cubs could be as far along as having high-level support from enough folks to make things happen (and it’s just a matter of getting past an election cycle), or the Cubs could still be hitting roadblocks.
  • On the future of the Cubs’ television deals (the WGN deal expires after 2014, and the CSN deal after 2019): ‘‘You just have to know it’s part of the game right now. It seems like it’s a factor that everyone has to look at when you’re looking at the financial resources that a team has. Good for [teams like the Angels and Rangers, who recently signed huge television deals]. I’m glad they’re in the American League.’’ Ricketts wouldn’t go into details about the Cubs’ television future, but it’s clearly (1) a huge revenue stream underutilized by the Cubs (who make about $45 million annually, compared, for example, to the Angels, who are about to get $150 million annually), and (2) in the plans. Whether it comes in the form of an increased partnership with CSN, or a Cubs Network, we might not know for several years.
  • On his working relationship with baseball president Theo Epstein: “I talk to Theo all the time. It’s great. Just as everyone knows he’s very thoughtful at everything he does. There are a lot of guys working hard. You ask them hard questions, they have great answers. There is nothing he hasn’t seen. It’s just been a great relationship. It’s been terrific.”
  • On 2012 ticket sales: Ricketts said that, while there are still some tickets to sell in April and May, season ticket sales have been “off the charts.”
  • JB

    Of the charts doesn’t always mean a good thing…it could be that its fallen off the chart like Tuffy Rhodes

  • rocky8263

    Speaking of tickets if any BNers want to pay less than face for an april game(other than opening day weekend) let me know. Sect 208 row five four seats. Prime foul ball

  • jr5

    I would love to know what Theo thinks of Ricketts. I’d love to have him compare and contrast this working environment to the one in Boston. Obviously I’m guessing he’s not doing that with anyone publicly, so it’s a pipe dream, but I’m still curious.

  • ferrets_bueller

    That TV deal thing pisses me off so bad every time I read about it…complete BS.

    • Funkster

      Couldn’t agree more. It’s amazing how everything this team has done in the past has just been one screw up after another.

  • Spencer

    Could the Cubs use the coin from a new tv deal to finance renovations?

    • Andrew

      they wont have a new deal in any way til 2014 anyway and still will have their contract with CSN til 2019 so its pretty irrelevant at this point in time.

  • SouthernCub

    Just please not CSN……..WGN or CUBSTV

    • CUB5

      I agree. I want something national that’s going to reach everyone for as many games as possible. The Cubs have a large national following and need something like the Braves and TBS. (I’m not saying Ricketts has to go as far as Turner has with it though!)

  • BleedBlueinWNeb

    why does Tim Sheridan’s blog still have a picture of Andrew Cashner up on the front page? just curious

  • TeddyBallGame

    Is it just me or does is seem like Ricketts has a little bit of a different tone than previous years?? The way he addresses topics and how he’s more honest about what’s actually going on seems obvious to me. I think since Theo has come in, Ricketts has changed for the better in public apprearances at news conferences, the convention, interviews, etc. It just seems that he says things with a purpose now. Ricketts now has an “actual direction” for the organization and that’s due in part to Theo’s arrival. During these interviews and news conferences I try and observe how the front office answers the questions and their mannerisms while answering. Ricketts and Theo seem genuinely confident in the “Cubs way” and I think that has a lot to do with us Cubs fans believing that what we’re doing is going to work…

    • AP

      I think that can be attributed to the fact that he has things set up how he wants it now. He took a lot of guff for not making any big changes his first couple of years but I actually thought it was the right move. He needed to get a feel for what changes needed to be made rather than coming in and making a bunch of knee jerk decisions. The only thing is, if you’re going to do that then you have to make all the obligatory, “Hendry’s our guy” statements to avoid rampant speculation but you don’t want to come across as a liar so you end up making dodgy, “I’m not going to paint myself into a corner”, statements. Now that he’s figured out what needs to happen and has put the pieces in place to make it so, he’s able to make unequivocal statements in support of his front office and the direction the team is headed. In the end I guess that’s a long way of saying basically, I agree with you.

  • Toosh

    Weren’t the TV contracts good deals at the time they were agreed to?

    • Brett

      I believe they were described, even at the time, as “sweetheart deals” for the networks due to the Trib’s ownership interests.

    • Scotti

      The WGN deal, in particular, was one of the things that held up the sale to the Ricketts. The family agreed to a final price with Sam Zell and THEN Zell made WGN TV and Radio deals that were sweetheart deals for WGN (owned by the Trib/Zell). The Ricketts then refused to buy at the same price and there was a long delay (eventually $55M was lopped off the agreed to price but that pails in comparison to the actual cost in value of those two contracts).

      Additionally, the whole long drawn out sale fiasco actually cost the Ricketts hundreds of millions MORE since it caused them to wait to sell stock in Ameritrade in early 2009 instead of early 2008 to get the $400M (liquid) that the banks required to make their loans. Due to the subsequent financial crash, the family had to sell roughly $800M in Ameritrade stock to get that $400M. Very poor timing.

      • Toosh

        I’m old-fashioned and believe a deal is a deal. For Ricketts and others to complain about the Cubs’ TV deals now is pointless.

  • Brett

    For some totally random fun, we’re captioning an awesomely bad (or badly awesome?) picture of Jeff Samardzija over at the BN Facebook page.

    • TWC

      Nope. That picture is just awesome.

      • Brett

        That’s the direction I lean, too.

  • Coal

    “I love the smell of leather in the morning”

    • Ian Afterbirth

      Yeah but it doesn’t smell like victory this year.

  • die hard

    I believe they could work out something so they could play one season in Comiskey if repairs are to be substantial. But heres another possibility. How about on the lakefront where the Bears play? Wouldnt that be ironic given the Bears used to play in Wrigley? And if the Cubs could average more than 55000 per game that would be frosting on the cake as it would support argument that the new Wrigley should have room for future expansion in 3-5 years if the first renovations would only have the same seating capacity as current Wrigley.

  • Sayueri

    It seems the lovefest between Tom and Theo continues. It hasn’t been that long since Theo was hired so I guess they could still be considered in their “honeymoon” period.

  • PeteG

    Did Sveum beat Kerry???

    • Chris S


  • PeteG

    Doesn’t this make Nick Castellanos expendable?

    • DocWimsey

      If you are referring to Miggy’s move tob3rd, then, No. Caste llanos is projected to reach MLB in 2014. Miggy and Prince will take 1st and DH. VMart will be gone.

  • CUB5

    Besides the ho-hum predictable answers to the ho-hum questions, I like what he said about patience and expectations. That’s a good mentality to have. We see countless teams that go farther than they should with hard work day in day out; even when they don’t have the talent on paper. 2003 Marlins anyone? Horrible start and then with some improved play and key acquisitions they won it all. No I don’t believe we can win the WS, but I want us to be competitive day in and day out. Run those bases Soriano!

  • die hard

    Shutting down Wrigley for one season to tear down and rebuild can work. 61,500 is the capacity of Soldier Field. With reconfiguring for baseball the Cubs may lose 10000 seats. Still, no reason cant average 48000 or more for one season there which would leave enough excess profits over typical annual average attendance at Wrigley to compensate the Bears and Chicago. I am sure they have already discussed this possibility which would require no home Bear games in September. If lucky enough to make playoffs and White Sox dont make it, they can use Comiskey thereafter. Money would have to exchange hands 5 ways to sundown, but in Chicago the possible always becomes a certainty with a big enough trough for all to dip their snouts. The thought of the Cubs on the lakefront may also generate other ideas to make that move permanent. I have no idea how that would happen but imagine the uses for current Wrigley now. The Ricketts family can put a hotel mall casino complex rivaling the Wynn property in Las Vegas.

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