Today, Chicago Cubs owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts spoke with the media for a little over a half an hour in Mesa, Arizona. Obviously it’s a tumultuous time for the organization – despite all the talent and possible baseball success on the horizon – so there was quite a lot to get into.
To the credit of both the media in attendance and Ricketts, they got into pretty much every hot topic, even if few of the responses will register much surprise.
Here’s the full press conference if you’d like to watch:
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) February 18, 2019
Some of the notable points:
- Of the Cubs’ quiet offseason, Ricketts pointed to the moves that doesn’t seem like moves – arbitration salary increases for guys like Kris Bryant and Javy Baez, picking up the option on Cole Hamels – while also noting that the Cubs will once again have one of the highest payrolls in baseball. Fair enough. Though he also added that it was pretty simple why the Cubs didn’t spend more money in the offseason: “We don’t have any more.” The implication there is that the budget is maxed out.
- When pressed a bit on why there wouldn’t be more aggressiveness on top free agents, Ricketts pointed out that the consideration on making the money work isn’t just about any single season, it is also about being committed to a contract for 10 years. Other problems can pop up down the line. Once you commit the dollars, they are committed – you can’t spend the same dollar twice. That kind of thing.
- Ricketts said the baseball operations crew is able to see out into the future what their budget is going to look like, and it is not as if a random number is dropped on them every year.
- Of the racist, bigoted, and Islamophobic emails attached to his father’s email account, Ricketts again condemned the messages in the emails. He expressed surprise and talked about how that isn’t how he was raised, he never heard that from his father before, he’s a great guy, etc. Things you would expect a son in this situation to say about his father.
- Something notable I’m not sure I’ve heard Ricketts or anyone with the Cubs say explicitly before, emphasis added: “[My father] has no operating position or economic interest in the team at all.” We know that the elder Ricketts, through the family trust, did make available funds for the kids to use to purchase the Cubs – so there was an economic interest, at least, at one point – but this appears to be an effort to make clear that at present, Joe Ricketts does not have any attachment to the Cubs organization at all.
- The Cubs have no concerns about Sinclair as a partner for their TV channel, which they believe will better serve Cubs fans than the previous arrangement. There will be no political content, and whatever Sinclair does on that side of things has nothing to do with the Cubs, according to Ricketts.
- The Cubs consider all individuals involved, and decided the best path forward was to support Addison Russell and give him a chance to become a better person. They hope he improves, learns from it, and is never in the situation again.