Cubs: 2022 season a ‘success,’ according to Tom Ricketts

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

As the Cubs kicked off this week’s series against the first-place New York Mets in the Big Apple, they sat 24 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central and have already been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.

Chicago has the eighth-worst record in Major League Baseball and could, conceivably, sneak into the bottom five if they play their cards right (or wrong) in the season’s final weeks, which would dramatically boost their chances at the top overall draft pick under the new system. In short, the 2022 season at the big league level has been full of disappointment – so Tom Ricketts’ latest comments are sure to sit well with fans.

"“The fact is you can’t buy a championship team in baseball,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “You have to build it. And that’s what we’re doing. And in order to build it, you’ve got to take years where you let young guys get at-bats, give them a chance to prove themselves and find out who you actually have to build around. And that’s what this year has been all about. And it has been a success.”"

Ricketts is correct in his statement, at least in the sense that you can’t just throw money at free agents annually and expect to build a sustainable winner. It takes the marriage of a strong farm system, the right balance on the roster and a lot of other things to go your way to win a championship – but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend in a way that’s commensurate with your organizational standing as you develop some young talent.

Cubs: At the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses – period

The emergence of young pitchers like Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson have been major wins for the team, as has the strong performance of Nico Hoerner, who has excelled both at the plate and in the field. Jed Hoyer opted to hold onto both Ian Happ and Willson Contreras at the deadline, instead focusing on dismantling David Ross’ bullpen for the second straight year.

Decisions like that – and the one to finally cut ties with veteran outfielder Jason Heyward – have led to a lot of younger guys getting a look this season. Again, as Ricketts noted, that’s something you have to do, too.

Attendance, as the Tribune noted, is down significantly at Wrigley Field – an estimated 15% – and you’ve really seen it here in the waning weeks of summer, with large swatches of the Friendly Confines empty, especially during the week.

I understand what Ricketts is getting at. Hoyer has done an excellent job replenishing a farm system that had essentially bottomed out, although many of the team’s prospects are years away from impacting the big league roster. There have been some impressive individual breakouts, sure.

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But you can’t tell fans that a franchise worth $4 billion being two dozen games out of first in mid-September is a ‘success’. Perception is everything – and, at the end of the day, it’s about wins and losses when you’re evaluating a big league ballclub.