Ricketts backs Cubs' roster, offseason approach

In radio interview, club chairman also explains Convention decision

January 17th, 2019
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts talks to the crowd during the Cubs' annual convention Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, in Chicago.AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

CHICAGO -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts made the media rounds on Thursday morning, discussing the team's quiet winter and plenty of other topics in interviews across the Chicago radio waves. This came after word spread that the Ricketts family would not have a panel at the annual Cubs Convention this weekend.

In an interview with 670 The Score, Ricketts chuckled when asked about the team canceling ownership's usual question-and-answer session with Cubs fans at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. He insisted that there were no ulterior motives to the decision to sit out of the convention spotlight.

"We had the lowest-rated panel last year, so the guys cut us. It's true," Ricketts said with a laugh. "I think people would rather watch the mascot play bingo than listen to the owners speak. The fact is that we had a low-rated panel. It got kind of dull over the years, because a lot of the questions were the same. It's funny to me. I saw a headline, somebody wrote like, 'Ricketts family cancels popular panel at Cubs Convention.' And the fact is we were the lowest-rated panel.

"If people want us to come back next year throughout the forums, we'd be happy to do it again. But, we just were boring people, honestly. We're happy to do it again. I like talking to people. I think I'm the most accessible owner in sports."

Here are the highlights of Ricketts' discussion on 670 The Score:

On the Cubs' offseason thus far

"First of all, we have spent this offseason. Obviously, we signed Cole Hamels and we picked up [Daniel] Descalso and I'm sure Theo [Epstein] has a few moves left in him. But, frankly, we have one of the largest budgets in all of baseball. We've put that to work. We definitely signed a lot of players over the years. We have a team that we like. We have a team that we think is going to go a long way. We have a team that won 95 games last year without a lot of help from some of the guys we picked up last offseason, and just all the different things we fought through last year -- the injuries and everyone having kind of down years and some of the off-field distractions. We like our club. We're among the very top spenders."

On a perceived lack of urgency after last season's abrupt ending

"I think what people don't see is the players and Theo and [manager Joe Maddon] have all worked throughout the offseason to talk amongst themselves -- more so than in past years -- to really focus on being prepared and coming in strong in Spring Training and getting the season off to a good start. The fact is, we look at our lineup and we say, if you look around the horn, who would you switch out? We've got a pretty good team. I think we've won, what, 97 games on average the last four years. We're still that team if we stay healthy, and we get Yu [Darvish] back, who's feeling pretty good right now. And obviously with Hamels for the whole season. We're going to be great. I think people should just judge us by what happens during the season -- not what happens during December."

On retaining , who will be out until May 3 while serving a suspension for violating MLB's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy

"There's no simple answer to that question. The fact is, the fact that we have decided -- after talking to a lot of experts, after talking to Addison multiple times, talking to the league -- that we'd rather support him through the process than just cut him and let him go, that doesn't mean it's in conflict with support for victims of domestic violence. The fact is that you have a decision to make as a club: What do you think is going to be best for the player and his family? In our case, after talking to, like I said, many experts, after talking to Addison many times, we thought the better thing for the players, for the player's family, was to see if we could help him get through this.

"I think that it's not an easy decision and not a decision that anyone takes lightly. It's something that every team has to decide for themselves, but I do give a lot of credit to Major League Baseball for having good protocols and policies on this. There was a process for him. He's already begun doing some of the things that the league requests and he's doing things beyond what the league requests. So, we'll see where it goes. I think he knows the gravity of the situation. I think he knows what he has to do. Let's just hope that he follows through on the promises he made to himself and the promises he made to the team."

On the Cubs' exploring their own regional TV network

"We're definitely looking at being able to talk about that more sometime in the future, but it'll be a while yet before we know exactly what we can have and can't have. I think it's already out there that we're looking to go our own direction on this, which is the right thing for the team and for the fans."

On striving for postseason sustainability

"You just have to get to the playoffs as often as possible, because once that happens, you have as good a chance as anyone. Once you get to that first Wild Card Game -- which, of course, we did last year -- you have as good a chance as anyone of still going. It comes down to who's hot, who's healthy, who gets the clutch hit. So, we have to be consistent. And I think one of the mistakes that might've been made in previous ownership is this theory that you load up and go for it one year. That doesn't work. That's fool's gold. That's a bad strategy. We take it from a different approach."