MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts gave his state-of-the-team address to reporters on Wednesday after speaking to his players as the Cubs opened camp for full-squad workouts.
There were no verbal shots taken at Wrigleyville rooftop owners -- which he’s done in the past -- and nothing new to report on Sammy Sosa's exile from the organization. Here are some highlights from his media session:
On Joe Maddon tampering charge: “From everything I know we did nothing wrong,” Ricketts said.
Analysis: Ricketts is just the latest team official to deny tampering in the hiring of Maddon. The league has stated the case will be over before the regular season begins. It’s hard to read in which direction they’re leaning as it’s been almost four months since Maddon made the move from Tampa Bay to Chicago. It makes you wonder if there’s something to the charges or if the league is just checking and re-checking its information before exonerating the Cubs.
On his message to players: “I want them to treat our fans like gold.”
Analysis: Ricketts kept a few things he told the players in house, but he stressed the need for them to act professional away from the park and treat the fans with respect. Always a good message to deliver.
On TV money: “Media rights have continued to grow for every team in every sport, particularly if we’re good on the field.”
Analysis: The Cubs aren’t worried about cable money disappearing. He feels like the big money will be there in 2019 when the team’s television contracts are up -- they’ll just be worth more if the Cubs have a winning team.
“I’m not worried about a cable bubble,” Ricketts said. “The value of live sports programming continues to grow.”
On payroll flexibility: “We’ll have the flexibility to do whatever Theo (Epstein) needs to do to in the middle of the season,” Ricketts stated.
Analysis: It’s hard to argue with his premise after the Cubs spent on Joe Maddon, Jon Lester, Miguel Montero, Jason Motte, Tsuyoshi Wada and Jason Hammel this past offseason. Money shouldn’t be a problem, but Ricketts isn’t convinced it solves all issues.
“The fact isn’t how much you spend, it’s what you get,” Ricketts said. “The correlation between what you spend on the field and wins is the lowest it’s ever been.”
On the bleachers: The left field bleachers are on pace to open May 11, according to Ricketts. Right field won’t be ready until later in May.
On Sosa: Ricketts had little to say on the subject of Sammy Sosa. Less than usual, in fact. Sosa and the team are not ready to mend fences.
“Nothing new on Sammy,” Ricketts stated. “He was a great player. Regardless of everything else, he was a great player.”
Analysis: Especially after the hiring of Manny Ramirez, there is simply no legitimate reason the Cubs can’t welcome Sosa back to at least their fan convention or even to hang out during spring training. Does anyone really care if Sosa apologizes? Apology or not, he’s beloved by a large part of the fan base and they are the ones who should be rewarded for their loyalty to the Cubs.