(WSCR) As the dust begins to settle from the circus that surrounded Wrigley Field after the acquisitions of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod this offseason, the press conferences are over and the baseball work begins.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts joined The Mully and Hanley Show on Friday to discuss all that has gone on in his organization and what fans can expect with the new trio leading his team.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Wind Chill Advisory In Effect, Wind Chills Dropping Well Below Zero
As the Cubs move forward with their new front office, it’s clear Ricketts is committed to bringing the North Side its first World Series in more than a century.
When asked if he was enjoying the “honeymoon” phase after making noise heard all around baseball with his new front office, Ricketts’ response was simple: “I’m not worried about honeymoons. I just want to win.”
After Ricketts hired Epstein to become the president of baseball operations, it’s clear Epstein is in charge of all baseball decisions.
One of the first orders of business for Epstein is figuring out what to do with troubled pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who walked out on his team after being ejected from a game in August.
“It’s Theo’s decision if he wants to give Carlos a chance to earn his way back on the team,” Ricketts said. “I support that all the way.”
LISTEN: Tom Ricketts on The Mully and Hanley Show
When Zambrano walked out on his team, he claimed he was retiring from baseball and did not pitch again for the rest of the season. It appeared as though the Cubs could get out of paying the remaining $19 million on Zambrano’s contract, but Ricketts said that outcome is unlikely.
“I don’t think it’s an outcome that could happen out of that arbitration,” Ricketts said. “I think Carlos is still under contract for next year.”
One thing that could hinder the success of Epstein and Co. at Wrigley Field is the new constraints listed in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement.READ MORE: View Live Radar
When Epstein won his two World Series titles in Boston, he built a strong team through the draft and player development. With the new CBA, however, teams are only allotted a certain amount of money to spend on the draft, which will make it more difficult to retain all drafted players.
“That’s certainly one of the ways the Red Sox built their organization,” Ricketts said. “They weren’t the only team, but by being smart about how you got supplemental picks and getting a lot of picks in the draft and putting a lot of money in the draft, it was definitely a way to build up your system. I think some of the more progressive teams figured that out and used that to their advantage. The CBA is really going to take that play out of the playbook. You’re going to be living under much tighter constraints on what you can and can’t do in the draft. Smaller market teams are going to get more picks. It’s just something we’ll have to adjust to.”
Epstein and Hoyer will get their first real chance to form the roster the way they want when the winter meetings begin next week. Ricketts said one area of concern is starting pitching.
“You can never have too much starting pitching,” Ricketts said. “The injury rate is just too high with starters to count on any of them for an entire season. I think where Jed, Theo and the guys are, is that they’re going down to (the winter meetings in) Dallas with an open mind about how to make the club better for next year. If something comes up where they can find a starter who fits and someone that will eat a lot of innings and be productive for us, I’m sure they’ll grab him.”
Even before the winter meetings, though, the new front office made its first free-agency move when they signed outfielder David DeJesus to a two-year deal.
Ricketts pointed to DeJesus’ ability to play baseball the “Cubs way.”
“He’s the kind of guy that you can just see that everybody wants to be teammates with,” Ricketts said. “He does all the baseball things right. He’ll go deep in counts, he plays very good defense, he’s a good base runner. He does everything right. I think it’s a nice signing off the bat. It gives us the guy that plays baseball the way we want the Cubs to play baseball.”
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