Results tagged ‘ Tom Ricketts ’

2/24 Ricketts address squad

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts addressed the full squad on Friday prior to the first workout at Fitch Park in Mesa, Ariz.

“There’s a new energy, a new vibe, I think they’ll be working a little harder than years past, focusing on fundamentals,” Ricketts said.

And his message to the team?

“We talked about, ‘Let’s make sure we use all 40 days as best we can,'” he said. “Communicate, too. One of the things I talk about is making sure if there’s something we can be doing better, let us know. We want to be the best organization in baseball. If there’s feedback, make sure it gets up to us so we can do what we can.”

He also told the players that they’re working on improving the facilities. One theme in camp has been the creation of the Cubs way, which Ricketts was happy to hear about.

“You do like to hear that ‘Cubs way,'” he said. “What they’re doing is putting everything down on paper and signing off on it.”

The baseball operations department is creating a scouting manual and player development manual, which Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer coordinated. Ricketts likes the idea.

“Not only does it help you be more consistent in the way you treat players and train players,” Ricketts said, “but everyone buys in and you’re accountable and I think that’s a big part of the Cubs way.”

As for recent rumors that the Cubs might have to play their home games in 2013 at U.S. Cellular Field to accomodate renovations at Wrigley Field, Ricketts tried to squelch the talk.

“There’s no plans for us to play anywhere else but Wrigley Field,” Ricketts said.

He also said there is no date set for groundbreaking for the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility in Mesa. The design is being finalized and the plan is still to be ready for 2014.

Season ticket renewals for 2012 were “off the charts,” Ricketts said.

“We know the one thing that sells tickets is winning and that’s what we focus on,” he said.

The lineup may not be the most intimidating but Ricketts said fans are enthused about the 2012 Cubs.

“People are very excited,” he said. “Everyone sees this as a great positive for the organization and everyone is looking forward to letting Theo do his job and letting Dale [Sveum] do his job and moving us forward.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/29 Ricketts on Wrigley, Z, the CBA & more

In September, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said he had a hard time imagining Carlos Zambrano returning to the Cubs after the pitcher’s early exit in August. But Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is giving Zambrano another chance to earn his way back. Ricketts said Tuesday he will defer to Epstein.

“What Theo said publicly is he’s willing to give Carlos a chance to earn his way back on the team,” Ricketts said. “It’s [Epstein’s]decision and I support it 100 percent.”

* Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement will cap the amount of dollars a team can commit to their Draft picks. That means a team’s front office will have to be creative.

“It’ll be a strategic change for some teams who were planning to spend more than what their caps would be,” Ricketts said.

The Cubs spent $12 million on players in last June’s First-Year Player Draft. In the two previous Drafts in 2009 and 2010, they spent a total of  $8.7 million combined. Did Ricketts see the changes coming?

“People knew this was an issue that would be discussed in the CBA,” he said Tuesday. “I was personally surprised at how far it went. I thought there might be some changes, but I wasn’t sure how far it would go. It’s a big shift, a bigger shift than I expected. We knew it was a possibility that something like this would come in.”

Will it change how the Cubs select players? Ricketts deferred to Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer on how their resources are allocated.

* Ricketts is talking to city officials on what they can do to get rennovations done at Wrigley Field. It’s unlikely they’ll have everything done by 2014, the ballpark’s 100th anniversary.

“There’s nothing concrete at this point — no pun intended,” Ricketts said.

* Ricketts met new manager Dale Sveum in Milwaukee during the GM Meetings and had a couple beers with him before he was hired.

“There was no litmus test kind of question that I wanted to hear,” Ricketts said. “I would be supportive of the decision of the baseball guys. I thought it would be good to sit down and talk to him and get to know him and I was very impressed.”

* The Cubs once again passed over Ryne Sandberg for the manager’s job, but Ricketts said the Hall of Fame second baseman will “always be a part of the Cubs family.”

* On Monday, the Cubs and family of late broadcaster and third baseman Ron Santo will find out if he’s going into the Hall of Fame.

“Obviously, Ron belongs in the Hall of Fame,” Ricketts said. “We’re doing what we can to get that message out to people who have the power to make that decision and we’re hopeful they’ll see it that way this weekend.”

* The Cubs hope for groundbreaking early next year on the new Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz.

* There is talk of the Cubs rebuilding. Usually that means going with youth. Can they win next year?

“Of course, we can win in 2012,” Ricketts said. “Like I said [at the end of the season], you get 25 guys playing hard, working together, and stay healthy, baseball tells you anything can happen when you get that. We’ll see how the offseason goes. I imagine we’ll be right in it next year.”

It seemed as if the honeymoon ended quickly for the Ricketts family, who took over the Cubs in October 2009. The team has finished in fifth place in back to back seasons.

“I really don’t think of it in terms of ‘Q ratings’ or honeymoons,” Ricketts said. “In the end, if we win, people will think we were good owners, and if we lose, we’re bad owners. As long as you focus on doing what you can to win, everything will fall into place.”

— Carrie Muskat

8/21 Business as usual

Randy Bush, promoted from assistant GM to interim GM following the dismissal of Jim Hendry on Friday, met with the baseball operations staff in Chicago this weekend. He also conducted a conference call with chairman Tom Ricketts, the scouts and the player development staff as well. Bush’s message was that he will do everything possible to make the transition smooth to the next GM. He also wanted to try and address any concerns they may have about their future with the Cubs.

“Tom has spoken about how happy he is and impressed he is with our scouting departments and player development,” Bush said Sunday. “He’s happy with [player development director Oneri Fleita’s] leadership and [scouting director] Tim Wilken, and I expressed to them that [Ricketts] has those feelings about the job they’re doing and that we could see a path where a lot of things in place would stay in place.”

What would Bush tell the next Cubs GM?

“I’d tell him I believe we’ve done a great job recently of acquiring talent,” Bush said, “and that Mr. Ricketts has made a commitment both domestically and internationally to pursue the top talent available, and that our player development people are doing a great job of moving those players along at the right pace to get them here so they’ll be here for a long time.”

* If there are any waiver wire trades to be made, Bush will handle that. One thing he made clear to Ricketts was that things happen quickly in baseball. Some teams in the race may need help because of injuries or performance.

“I don’t anticipate anything,” Bush said. “I think it’s the nature of the business that opportunities come up at different times and we have to be prepared.”

The games haven’t stopped because of the change at the top.
“The day to day activity here is probably a good thing,” Mike Quade said. “It doesn’t allow you the time to sit back. You’re just consumed with what goes on here every day. I wind up saying, it’s baseball, and then go about my business. There will be plenty of time for reflection down the road.”
— Carrie Muskat

8/4 Ricketts: “We want to be the best”

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts made a stop in Peoria on Wednesday to see the Class A team and talked to reporters there.

“We want our Minor Leagues to be as productive as possible. We do want to separate ourselves in that we want to be better,” Ricketts said in a news conference at O’Brien Field. “We want to be known as a team that drafts and develops players better than the other teams.”

Ricketts said he visits the Minor League teams because the goal is to build the best organization in baseball, according to a story in the Peoria Journal Star. Ricketts was asked about any possible changes for next season.

“I don’t know just yet,” Ricketts said. “It’s something we’ll decide at the right time.”

So far, the new owners have concentrated on the business end.

“It’s hard to say we’ve had any type of big impact on the baseball side,” Ricketts said, “but that being said, a lot of the stuff we’re doing now should pay off in the long run.”

And that includes a commitment to scouting and player development, which includes building new facilities in Mesa, Ariz., and also the Dominican Republic.

“We’re out talking to our affiliates to make sure we’re doing everything we can with our minor league players and coaches,” Ricketts said. “Ultimately the performance on the field, if it’s going to be consistently winning, has to come from a great organization. We’re doing everything we can to make it the best organization in baseball.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/19 Ricketts meets with Cubs

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team will have some financial flexibility and could add a player during the season but wouldn’t comment on whether adding Albert Pujols is a possibility. Since Pujols rejected the Cardinals’ latest offer, the Cubs have been rumored to be a possible bidder if the first baseman becomes a free agent.

“I don’t have any insights or thoughts on any of that situation,” Ricketts said when asked about Pujols. “All I know is what I read in the paper. I guess it just has to sit until the end of the season.”

He said Major League owners are more concerned about the length of some of the mega deals than the money involved.

“If you’re going to sign someone for seven, eight years, you better make sure that’s the guy you want,” he said.

Ricketts said any additions made in-season would be up to GM Jim Hendry, whom the owners have had more involved in terms of budget decisions so he understands the team’s finances.

“All of that stuff is in Jim’s court,” Ricketts said. “There will be a little more financial flexibility at the end of the season than there has been in years past.”

And Ricketts’ message to the team?

“I think the message for the team this year and the theme for the team this year is the fact that through the last six weeks of 2010 we were one of the best teams in baseball,” Ricketts said of the 24-13 finish under manager Mike Quade. “We have that team back and that manager back and we’ve added to it. I think we build on that momentum and use the next 40 days to get ready for the season and come into the season with a sense of purpose and a sense of pride and get off to a quick start and have a great year.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/15 Cubs convention notes

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was asked about everything from the music at Wrigley Field to Ryne Sandberg to payroll during a question and answer session at the Cubs Convention Saturday. Ricketts said Sandberg, who did not get the manager’s job, is always welcome back with the team. Sandberg has taken a job as Triple-A manager with the Phillies.

“He was always welcome here, he is always welcome here and he’s one of us,” Ricketts said of Sandberg.

Ricketts said the Cubs hope to complete rennovations at Wrigley Field by 2014. There are no plans to instal a video scoreboard but in another session, fans expressed an interest in one. We’ll have to wait and see.

— Carrie Muskat

11/15 Wrigley Field plan

About 30 union leaders and numerous business owners and residents from the Wrigley and Lakeview area will join Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts on Tuesday in support of “Wrigley Investment Now-WIN for Jobs.” Ricketts is asking the state of Illinois to help finance more than $200 million in renovations at Wrigley Field.

Last week, Ricketts said the Illinois General Assembly will consider a bill to preserve Wrigley Field. The plan will allow a portion of future city and county amusement taxes, paid entirely by Cubs fans, to be invested directly in the preservation of the ballpark. A bill is being drawn up that will be considered in the veto session.

Backers of the plan say at least 1,000 union labor jobs will
be created and as many as 500 permanent jobs would also be created in and around the Wrigley Field area.
The economic stimulus plan of renovating Wrigley Field and the “triangle” parcel development is estimated to generate more than $3 billion of economic growth in the next 35 years (approximately $66 million in year one, growing 2 percent per year, according to proponents).  Of that $3 billion, the plan is estimated to generate $454 million in new sales, hotel, property restaurant and personal income taxes for the city, county and state.

— Carrie Muskat

10/26 Mr. Cub campaigns in Mesa

Mr. Cub Ernie Banks joined Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts in Mesa, Ariz., on Monday to campaign for Proposition 420. Banks said he recalled riding a train to the Cubs’ Spring Training facility in 1953 but missed his stop. The team’s traveling secretary, Bob Lewis, was waiting at the depot for Banks and when the train went by with the shortstop still on it, Lewis chased it down with his car.

“They stopped the train,” Banks told reporters in Mesa on Monday. “I didn’t know where I was. I thought, ‘Why am I here?’ Mesa was a very small community. It’s not anymore. It’s grown and changed.”

Next Tuesday is election day in Mesa and voters will decide on Proposition 420. The measure would let the city of Mesa spend up to $99 million on a new Spring Training facility for the Cubs, expected to be located at the Riverview Park site. The money includes $84 million for a stadium and $15 million for infrastructure.

— Carrie Muskat

10/12 Cubs manager update

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has met with the four managerial candidates but there is no timetable for when the team will name its next skipper. Ricketts would not comment on the managerial search but a source confirmed he has interviewed each of the candidates.

The four include Mike Quade, Ryne Sandberg, Eric Wedge and Bob Melvin. Quade, who has spent 17 seasons managing in the Minor Leagues, compiled a 24-13 mark when he took over for Lou Piniella. Sandberg is coming off a season at Triple-A Iowa where he was named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year. It was his fourth season managing in the Cubs’ Minor League system.

Ricketts was in Mesa, Ariz., on Tuesday to campaign for Proposition 420, which will be on the general election ballot Nov. 2. The measure is designed to allow the city to spend up to $84 million for a new Spring Training stadium and practice facilities for the Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat

10/10 Thanks from the Ricketts

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts sent a letter to season ticket holders this past week. Here’s a copy:

“It has been an incredible year for my family in our first season as stewards of the Chicago Cubs. Of all the new experiences, none was more enjoyable than the opportunity to meet and spend time with you—our season ticket holders.
“We met many of you during our game day walks through Wrigley Field.  Over the course of those games, you welcomed me and my family, you shared your thoughts and suggestions on improving the team and the ballpark, we celebrated some wins and, unfortunately, suffered too many losses.
“One of the highlights of the year was our first ever season ticket holder ‘open house’ on July 8th. On that day alone I met more than 2100 of you, as we spent a day together in the greatest ballpark on earth. (For all who have inquired—yes, we are going to host that event again and in fact we will double up with a night session as well).
“As our most highly valued customers, your opinions are invaluable as we move our organization forward. In fact, you will soon be contacted to participate in a quality assurance survey as we consider amenity upgrades and look to identify ways to improve your experience at Wrigley Field.
“On behalf of my entire family, thank you for your warm welcome and your incredible support of the Cubs organization. You are truly our partners and we respect your contribution and insights.”
2010 Review
“The 2010 season was a disappointment for all at the major league level–for my family, for the organization, for the players and for the fans. The team showed signs of its potential the last quarter of the season, but the 75-87 record fell well short of our goals. My family is committed to winning a World Series and though it may not be entirely evident from this year’s performance, there are encouraging signs.
“The 2010 highlights revolved around our home grown talent. Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Andrew Cashner developed into budding stars, with Castro and Colvin in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion. That young group was enhanced by the August promotion of Casey Coleman, who went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four starts. All need to take the next step in 2011, but we are very encouraged to have a group of young, home grown players emerge as regulars in 2010.
“We also have to recognize the superb job done by another one of our own–Mike Quade.  During the final 37 games, the team played at a .649 clip (24-13), the second best record in the Majors over that time frame. Making this even more significant, we played largely against teams fighting for playoff berths.
“It is my strong belief that, in the end, it is organizations with strong farm systems that win championships and I am convinced that our organization is making progress.
“Our success in producing talent from within our system can be attributed to a number of factors, including a commitment of financial resources. We believe we have one of the best scouting directors in baseball in Tim Wilken (now 4 years in place) and with a strong farm director in Oneri Fleita and a very productive international effort, we are making progress in what had been a weak spot in the organization.
“Our farm clubs performed very well in 2010, playing to a collective 374-316 record, with first place finishes at both the Triple-A level in Iowa (tied) and Double-A level in Tennessee. The overall .542 winning percentage was second among all major league organizations and our 374 wins were the most for the Cubs organization in 15 years. As I said at our opening press conference about a year ago, we are committed to winning the right way—with our farm system. We believe we are on the right track.”
2011 Preview
“We are early in the process of building the club for 2011. The first order of business is hiring our manager. Jim Hendry has identified a strong group of candidates and we are currently completing our interviews. This is a critical decision and I am confident we will find the right person to lead the club.
“The strength of our team in 2010 was our starting pitching, as we led the National League with 96 quality starts. We expect that to continue. We are excited to see the continued development of our young players and the strong bullpen work anchored by Carlos Marmol (38 saves and a reliever-franchise record 138 strikeouts) and Sean Marshall (2.65 ERA, 22 holds).
“Going forward, we recognize the need to recommit to fundamentals. We need to stabilize our defense and cut down on errors. We need to improve our offense and become more efficient in both moving runners and hitting with players in scoring position. It is too early to determine whether this will be addressed with internal moves, trades or through free agent acquisitions.  But we know we must improve in these areas.
“Given that we had the highest payroll in the NL in 2010, I get a lot of questions about our payroll commitment for 2011. As I said earlier, we are still working on our 2011 baseball plan, so it is hard to be too specific at this time. What I can tell you is that our overall baseball budget (scouting, player development and payroll) will be about the same in 2011 as it was in 2010. Continued long term success will come through superior scouting and player development, and we are committed to improving that facet of the organization. As a result, this likely means a shift of some of our resources from the major league payroll toward scouting and player development, but we are still very much in the evaluation phase.”
2011 Ticket Pricing
“The other question I get regularly concerns our ticket pricing for 2011 and beyond. Overall, our average ticket price will be flat in 2011 compared to 2010. Before going into greater detail on that topic, let me provide some background.
“My family is committed to providing ticket pricing that allows families to enjoy Cubs baseball. In so many ways, our children represent the next generation in the Cubs family. We want to invest in providing families with opportunities to experience Wrigley Field, including such things as running the bases, which will be continued in 2011.
“To this end, we will continue the policy of keeping many of our tickets in the sub $10 range–in fact, we will offer a substantial increase in sub-$10 tickets next year compared to 2010.
“In addition, we are increasing the number of bronze games (our lowest ticket pricing tier) from 6 games in 2010 to 15 games in the bleachers and 11 games in the grandstand in 2011. As a result, there will be 77% more tickets priced at $20 or less in 2011 than there were in 2010.  Stated differently, a total of more than 550,000 tickets will be available for $20 or less next year.
“Again, our average ticket price next year will be essentially flat compared to 2010 (actually it is fractionally down vs. 2010). This does not mean all ticket prices will be the same as last year however, as pricing was adjusted based on location and our schedule. A little background might be helpful.
“To set our pricing in 2011, we examined approximately 5 million transactions from our primary and secondary ticket markets from 2005 through 2010. Our goal was to keep our average ticket price flat overall but improve the alignment of pricing for games and seating sections with actual demand. The result is a market-based ticket model that reflects our fans’ buying patterns.
“The highlights include: (1) reducing the average ticket price for all gold, silver and bronze games, (2) separating the bleachers and grandstands in the pricing tiers, as the buying patterns vary significantly for each area, and (3) adding a new fifth tier of pricing (Marquee Tier) for our high
est demand games.
“Cutting through it all, the net result for our season ticket holders is that some will see a slight (in all cases, less than 3%) increase, others will see a reduction as much as 6% and some will see virtually no change at all.
“Other changes in 2011 include new season ticket holder benefits. Over the years, we have added significant benefits to being a Cubs season ticket holder, such as a dedicated area within our website, early access to Spring Training tickets and other special events (such as the very popular Dave Matthews concerts and Allstate Wrigleyville Classic football game coming in November), and last year’s open house.
“For 2011, there are a number of new benefits that I think you will find interesting. Among them is exclusive access to our players, coaches, manager, front office and ownership through Cubs Insider Webcasts that will occur throughout the year. In addition to updates on everything happening inside the ballclub, these webcasts will provide you the opportunity to ask questions on topics of your choice. A Season Ticket Holder Benefit page follows this letter and you should ask your Cubs representative about any of the items listed there.”
Wrigley Field Renovations
“Like you, we love Wrigley Field and are committed to winning a championship at the Friendly Confines. We all need to recognize, however,  that our wonderful Wrigley Field is fast approaching 100 years of age and is in need of substantial improvements. We committed over $10 million to that effort last year, largely to improve restrooms, add new food options, recast concrete, upgrade steel and other general maintenance. We will continue this effort in 2011 but again the focus will be more tactical than strategic.
“We spent much of the 2010 season assembling a team of renowned architects, engineers, designers and project managers to develop a master plan for a more significant Wrigley Field overhaul and Triangle Building development. Our planning will continue in 2011 and your involvement through the quality assurance surveys mentioned earlier is very important. We look forward to completing the analysis phase and getting underway with the construction and occupation phase.”
“Thank you again for your incredible support of Cubs baseball and the Ricketts family. We have spent our adult lives sitting next to you cheering for our team. We now have the responsibility to improve not only the play on the field but also to protect and save our summer home, Wrigley Field. With your help we will accomplish both.”