By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (670 The Score) — As he usually does early every spring training, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts addressed his team Monday with a new season on the horizon.
“We are really, really excited about the 2018 season,” Ricketts said. “We have had a core of players for the last several years. I think our offseason moves have really set us up to be one of the best teams in baseball. We have the best rotation since I have been here. We have a really deep bullpen, which every team wants and needs. Coming out of our meeting, everyone is in a good place. Everyone is hungry and wants the season to get off to a great start and make this a memorable year.”
Ricketts’ annual message always reminds that winning the World Series is the goal. He and his family have done their job in making the Cubs perennial challengers, as the payroll this season will end up near the $197-million luxury tax threshold and the ownership group has spent big on renovations for Wrigley Field and the surrounding area.
“The renovations on the field keep moving forward,” Ricketts said. “Next year will be the last year of major renovations. So what has become a very, very expensive plan to renovate Wrigley field is almost over. We are excited about that.”
The Ricketts family paid $845 million for the Cubs in October of 2009. Nine years later, the franchise has an estimated worth of $2.6 billion. The Cubs brand has flourished under the Ricketts family guidance and the profitable advanced media cash cow.
Ricketts has stayed true to his word to invest the organization’s back into the team and neighborhood projects. That has helped lead to great success, as the Cubs have reached the National League Championship Series in three straight seasons and won the 2016 World Series.
Once again, the Cubs are favored to win the NL Central.
“2018 is going o be an incredible year for the organization,” Ricketts said. “We are looking forward to it. Everyone knows this team has the capability to win a World Series. We will be disappointed if we don’t live up to that capability. I tell the guys every year that this is a family business and please respect the logo. Please do not do anything on or off the field that is inconsistent with the way we want players to act. We remind them that the most important people in the game are the fans. Without them, we would all be doing something else. We very much expect to win. I did tell them I enjoyed 2016 more than 2017. Be ready to come into the season and get out front.”
Ricketts had no news on the future television company that the Cubs are likely to create to carry games on their own network after 2019, which is when the current agreement with NBC Sports Chicago expires.
Ricketts was also vague about a possible All-Star Game bid for the Cubs and Wrigley Field. The team will likely need to wait until all the major renovations of Wrigley Field are complete. The last time Wrigley Field hosted an All-Star Game was 1990, so the Cubs figure to get one soon.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.