How chairman Tom Ricketts views the 2023 Cubs campaign
MILWAUKEE — Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts wore the sting of the final few weeks of the regular season.
“Like every other fan, it was a little disappointing,” Ricketts said in a 13-minute scrum with media in the American Family Field press box. “We set out a goal to make the playoffs and we didn’t get there. So, we didn’t achieve our objective and that’s disappointing.”
The 2023 season for the Cubs was a wild ride — it started solidly in April, then they really struggled in May and early June and went on a hot streak in the summer months before wrapping up with a 7-15 stretch to end the season that saw them finish 1 game out of a playoff spot.
“I mean it kinda felt like it was 4 different seasons,” Ricketts said. “It’s tough to not achieve your goal. It’s tough when you’re just a couple of games away from making the playoffs and extra tough that for a while there it was pretty much, pretty likely.
“So, it feels like something got taken away. All I can really say at this point is that I hope that the guys all take it to heart and come back in the spring ready to go.”
It was a bitter way to end a process that began way back in February. Externally, the Cubs didn’t have much hoopla surrounding them — PECOTA had pegged them at 77 wins and Fangraphs had them at 75 and they exceeded that with an 83-win campaign. But that’s not enough for the Cubs to deem their season a triumph.
“I don’t think that we wanna start calling seasons we don’t make the playoffs good seasons,” Ricketts said. “I think that’s a consolation prize and we don’t play for consolation prizes.”
But it’s not a total failure, either.
“There was a lot of excitement, and the organizational health was as strong as it’s been in a long, long time,” Ricketts said. “With all the disappointment that we have, there’s a lot of optimism as well.”
The challenge for the Cubs now is building on that.
The Cubs were aggressive this offseason, adding free-agent successes like Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger. Their steadfast approach in the winter, though, didn’t result in complete success stories — Trey Mancini and Tucker Barnhart were let go midseason and veteran additions like Jameson Taillon and Brad Boxberger produced mixed results.
Ricketts indicated that he believes the Cubs will “stay in those levels” when it comes to the free-agent market, but their overall organizational health is what allows them to be bullish on 2024 and beyond.
Core players like Swanson, Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki and Justin Steele are under team control for multiple seasons. Prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Jordan Wicks and Alexander Canario were around during a playoff push this year and can contribute in the near future. And in the minor leagues, players like Cade Horton, Kevin Alcántara and Owen Caissie are reaching the upper levels and could help the big-league club soon to offset any holes the team may have.
“That’s a great start,” Ricketts said. “It’ll be up to Jed [Hoyer] to figure out where to go from here to supplement those guys, to put a winning team on the field, but I think we’re gonna come into Spring Training optimistic and ready to go.”