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Ricketts optimistic about '14 and beyond

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' offseason acquisitions weren't exactly breaking news and the team is coming off a 96-loss season, but chairman Tom Ricketts is optimistic about the 2014 campaign.

"I think we have a team right now that can go to the playoffs," said Ricketts, who told the players the same thing prior to the first full-squad workout on Wednesday.

"We have a good young nucleus," he said. "You have to build a championship team and we're doing that. We have good young guys on the team this year and we've got good guys coming, and every year we're going to keep getting better and better and better and we're going to be consistent contenders. If these guys step up and play to their potential, we'll be fine."

New Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Ricketts' message wasn't much different from what he told the players.

"I think we expect it," Renteria said about competing in the postseason. "We talked to the players about having high expectations. I don't know why we'd want to hold ourselves back from going out and playing the game a certain way and expecting if we do things right, we have a chance to win."

Renteria is aware of the Cubs' history, and the fact that the team has not played in the World Series since 1945 and not won a championship since 1908.

"I think they've been reminded enough," Renteria said of the players. "What I try to do is think about today and that was the focus -- that we're moving forward and every day we're moving past what has already occurred. It's all kind of relative."

How can Ricketts be so optimistic?

"Every few years it happens somewhere that there are teams that flip it around in one season," he said. "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 we have a lot of positive energy coming through. We think it can happen. Everything will be fine and we'll have an exciting season."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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