Why Tom Ricketts is optimistic about the future of the Cubs
DYERSVILLE, Iowa — As the Cubs marveled in the spectacle of the Field of Dreams game, it was only natural to wonder when the team might be back in the national spotlight in the playoffs.
After all, the Iowa event carried the same buzz as a playoff game — a nationally televised event with former players coming out of the woodwork, ranging from Ben Zobrist to David Ortiz to Andre Dawson to Ken Griffey (Jr. and Sr.).
So when will the Cubs be back in the postseason? The team entered Iowa 20 games below .500 (45-65), which is also how they finished the 2021 season (71-91).
“I’ll be the first to acknowledge this is not the type of baseball Cubs fans deserve,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. “Our decision last year to move away from Cubs players who brought us a World Series title was tough, but we have a plan to return to championship contention by building the next great Cubs team around a young core of players augmented by free agent signings — and we’re making progress.”
The Cubs opted not to trade one more of those 2016 players at the deadline this summer, as Jed Hoyer’s front office hung on to Willson Contreras. But his future is still murky, as he will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Hoyer also announced earlier this week that another player from the World Series team (Jason Heyward) would not be back in 2023 as the Cubs will part ways with the veteran outfielder before the final year of his contract.
Kyle Hendricks is the lone member of that championship squad expected to be on the team next year but Cubs fans may not see “The Professor” again in 2022 as he is still recovering from a shoulder injury and does not have a timeline to begin throwing again.
Last summer’s deadline selloff was jarring for Cubs fans, but it also brought back some exciting prospects like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcántara and Caleb Kilian.
Combine those trades with the pitchers the Cubs acquired this summer (both at the trade deadline and in the draft) and the team is encouraged about the future.
“Our moves over the past year at the trade deadline have put us in a position of strength in both player and financial currency,” Ricketts said. “We plan to be very active again this offseason competing in the free agent market.
“Our farm system is now ranked No. 4 in the majors by FanGraphs because we acquired several young prospects who are either Major League ready or project to be part of our long-term future.”
Earlier in the week, Hoyer shared a similar sentiment about the upcoming offseason.
“I expect to be aggressive this winter,” Hoyer said. “There’s no question. I think we’ll have some money to spend. Certainly we want to invest that money wisely. Our goal is to build something special and trying to do that too quickly or trying to do it all at once can be a mistake.
“But certainly there’s going to be good players in the market and I’m sure we’re gonna be involved in those discussions.”
Entering the Field of Dreams game, the Cubs carried a 10-8 record since the All-Star Break, riding on the back of a starting rotation that has started firing on all cylinders now that Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly — who started Thursday — are back and healthy.
“We are beginning to see results with our starting pitching rotation and prospects coming up through the system and performing well, helping the team progress to a better-than-.500 record since the All Star Break,” Ricketts said.
In his statement, Ricketts also lauded the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure throughout the organization and the work manager David Ross has done this season, pointing to those two factors as reasons for optimism in the future.
“I like the fight, but we must do better because winning baseball is the expectation,” Ricketts said. “…the Chicago Cubs are one of the original franchises in Major League Baseball’s rich history. Suffice it to say, we plan on making championship history again.”