Ricketts indicates long road ahead for Cubs


Oct 25, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs new president of baseball operations Theo Epstein (left) speaks during a press conference beside chairman Tom Ricketts (right) at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Giglio-USA TODAY Sports

It’s now been four consecutive years of losing seasons on the North Side of Chicago.

If what Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday is true, don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

Ricketts was adamant that no major moves were in the works to change the direction the team has taken over the past several seasons. There’s only one way that the Cubs are going to improve, and according to Ricketts, it’s building from the ground up.

“You just can’t throw money at the problem,” Ricketts told the Sun-Times. “We have to build the organization from the ground up. And that’s what we’re doing right now.”

With this statement, Ricketts is showing powerful support for the vision the Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, has laid forth in recent years; building a sustainable roster that will not only make Chicago competitive in the near future, but for years to come.

He also touched on the issue of the team’s debt, which was incurred when the Ricketts family purchased the team from Sam Zell.

A recent Forbes report placed the team’s debt at some $580 million – the most of any Major League Baseball organization.

The next step for the organization, is clear, according to Ricketts. It must increase revenue streams in order to field a competitive team. A major portion of this step was finalized recently when the Wrigley Field renovation plan was approved by the Chicago City Council. However, the largest segment of that – increased outfield signage and a video board behind the left field bleachers – still faces considerable hurdles from rooftop owners who are in the midst of a contract with the Cubs.

“On the business side, we have to continue to develop more revenue lines so that we can have more financial flexibility in the future,” said Ricketts. “We’re doing that with stadium renovations and other media contracts that are coming up in the future.”

The media contracts in question revolve around whether or not the Cubs will renew a longstanding deal with WGN for television rights. Some rumors have indicated the possibility of a Cubs Network, but the validity of that remains to be seen.

With most of the top-tier talent in the organization still in the lower levels of the minor league system, Chicago is likely at least two more seasons from having a legitimate shot at the postseason. By 2015, with the likes of Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant near-ready, this will be a vastly improved club that takes the field each day.

“The fact is, we’re doing it the right way. We have the best leaders in our baseball organization, the smartest guys. It’s one step at a time. And we’re getting better.”