MESA, Ariz. -- As he does each spring, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts spoke to the team ahead of the first full-squad workout on Monday morning. He spoke to largely the same group that came up short of the postseason last season, with one significant exception.
This year, Ricketts also had a new manager in David Ross in the room. Ricketts believes the new leadership, combined with better performance from Chicago's star-laden roster, can lead to better results than last season's 84-win, third-place finish.
"I think 2020 is really a fresh start," Ricketts said on Monday. "I just watched Rossy give his first big team speech and, I mean, the energy, the passion, his ability to communicate. And he's a proven winner. I think he's the right guy for us.
"And on top of that, I think we throw in what I think is the best front office in baseball. And when I look at what we have going into 2020, I think that everyone should feel very strongly that we have all the right pieces in place to get us back on top. And I can't wait for the season to start."
Here are some highlights from Ricketts' 20-minute discussion with reporters on Monday:
On Kris Bryant trade rumors over offseason
"Obviously, we love KB. He's a great player. He's a great teammate. He's just a great part of the team. Most of the things that are out there are just rumors and noise and a lot of it's just not true. But, with respect to all player decisions, you know, if anything was going down that path, it would obviously be a baseball decision. But, we love Kris and we hope he stays healthy and has a great year."
On the luxury-tax thresholds
"The Competitive Balance Tax is a factor that every large-market GM, at least, has to put into their calculus when they create their teams. And I don't know how much fans know, but it's not just a financial penalty. It's a financial penalty that grows over time for the number of years you're above the threshold, and then it gets into a player penalty, which you have to be careful to avoid. Like I said, it's a factor. I don't think it's a defining factor, but it's definitely a factor."
On being limited financially over the offseason
"We kind of have a different circumstance, too, this year. Some of the flexibility that we would've had going into the offseason, we used last summer to bring in [Craig] Kimbrel. But, I trust our baseball guys to put those resources to work in the right way and also keep a long-term perspective and, once again, with the strategy of trying to be as consistent as possible to make the playoffs as often as possible. And I think our guys will make good decisions."
On not taking part in a panel with fans at Cubs Convention
"It got pretty low ratings. It got the lowest ratings of our attendees. And we also don't try to make the story about us, too. Maybe we'll bring it back. We'll see. If people really want it back, I don't mind doing it. It's not a big deal. I certainly don't mind talking to fans. I do that as much as anyone in the game. So, it could come back. I don't know. It's just something we'll have to think through."
On Marquee Sports Network still negotiating with Comcast
"I would tell people that, look, first of all, if it really concerns you, just call Comcast and let them know. But, secondly, these types of discussions typically go like this. They don't go quickly. They're fairly complicated. It's not uncommon for these kind of discussions to end up like this. And then, thirdly, I'm just confident, because I think in the end everyone will do what's right for the actual customers. And that's where I'm confident that we'll get all this behind us by Opening Day or pretty soon anyway."
On how Marquee could impact the team's payroll in the future
"I can't speculate on exactly how much the Marquee Network will change the financial picture of the team. And I can't speculate on where the Competitive Balance Tax is going. It's a good thing for the team. It's a great thing for the team to have the network. And, once it's fully distributed and fully operational, it will give us more financial resources. But, how we put those to use or how much that is, it's way too early to tell."