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Theo Epstein defends Cubs ownership

Jan 19, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT

epstein, ricketts getty Getty Images

The Cubs are 273-375 (.421) since the Ricketts family took over as team owners following the 2009 season. They’ve made very little tangible progress on badly-needed renovations to Wrigley Field and have shied away from giving out big free agent deals. But club president Theo Epstein assured fans Saturday at the annual Cubs Convention in Chicago that the Ricketts will be spenders when the time is right.

Via Jesse Rogers of

“Here’s the best thing about the Ricketts and their commitment to the Cubs,” Epstein said. “They know they’re going to own this club for generations and generations so they are willing to take the hit now and take some of the heat now because they know they are doing the right things to lay the foundation to get this right, to turn this into a franchise that they can be proud of for generations and generations. … I’m more proud of them for their willingness to take that heat and stick to their plan than I would be if they panicked the first time their name was dragged through the mud publicly and said, ‘We can’t do this, we need to put lipstick on this and find some quick fixes just to keep the fans and media at bay.’”

The youth-focused rebuilding strategy has netted the Cubs several of the game’s elite prospects — like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, C.J. Edwards, and Albert Almora — but not all highly-touted young players turn into MLB stars and 2014 is looking like another down year at the level where success matters most.

The Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds should continue to rule the National League Central this summer.

  1. themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 19, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    I can’t fault Epstein here. He’s probably right about the long range plan. With the Cubs, a long range plan is really all you can do. I think they’re trying to build a Cardinal style team: great depth in the farm with solid starters at the MLB level. That doesn’t happen over night. I think next season we start to see if this Epstein fellow knows his business or if he’s just a pretty face from Boston, where he may have ridden the coattails of other, better men.

    • djpostl - Jan 19, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      The plan is right, just don’t see it as the Ricketts. It’s all Theo.

      The family spent tens upon tens of millions of dollars pushing their “screw the little guy” poltical philosophy since 2010. They’ve made their priorities crystal clear to those who have been paying attention.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 19, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        I have very little sense of The Ricketts (other than as a vitamin deficiency). I can’t argue with anything you have here.

        But a word about the franchise itself is warranted. For me The Cubs represent the ultimate underdog. When they win the WS, and they will, one day . . . I suppose . . . when they do win it, they and whoever it was that guided them will be remembered pretty much forever by the likes of us. It was a very bold move by Theo Epstein to take on that task. But, if he can do it, he will be the one remembered, pretty much forever.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 19, 2014 at 10:19 PM

        And that is why Theo came to the Cubs.

        No risk no reward. If they don’t win while he’s there, well folks will say it’s the Cubs! Of course they weren’t going to win the World Series.

        But if they do win it while he’s there, well saying it would be a feather in his cap in an understatement.

        Add that on to the Red Sox ending the Curse of the Bambino…

        He’s been wealthy for a while and already experienced success so he decided to try and tackle a really big mountain and I think that’s good.

        Many would be too afraid to.

  2. realgone2 - Jan 19, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Exactly it doesn’t happen over night. I don’t know much about the Cubs other than they have been awful, but give these guys a chance to build a team at least.

  3. Old Gator - Jan 19, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Only 102 years into the current five year plan. So far, so good.

    • proudlycanadian - Jan 19, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      1) The Cubs will not win the WS in our lifetime.

      2) A certain deli that you like will be opening 2 outlets at the Pearson Airport in 2015.

      • Old Gator - Jan 19, 2014 at 5:25 PM

        Um – which one, Yitz’s or Caplansky’s? I checked the web sites of both and found no mention – but, clearly, this is critical information I will need to have. Where’d you hear this?

      • proudlycanadian - Jan 19, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        A Facebook message from Caplansky’s.

      • Old Gator - Jan 19, 2014 at 7:03 PM

        Ugh, which means that I have to go on Facebook with the peasants. I’ll just take your word for it and email Zane with a pat on the back.

  4. 4d3fect - Jan 19, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    “Theo Epstein defends Cubs ownership”

    From…some bad press?


  5. cubbybeers41 - Jan 19, 2014 at 3:21 PM

    I said when Theo was brought in the cubs would not be relevant until 2015. He is building the team to compete soon. Hopefully only one more down year.

  6. charlescub80 - Jan 19, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Back to the future predicts 2015!

  7. icanspeel - Jan 19, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Why wouldn’t he defend his boss? He wants to keep the job after all.

  8. tfbuckfutter - Jan 19, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Then he signed 3 Scott Boras clients, and 4 overrated shortstops to contracts values at 150% of their worth.

    And recalled Darnell McDonald from AAA.

  9. bender4700 - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:13 AM

    Sorry Cubs fans. But take it from a guy who grew up in Omaha:

    The Ricketts want to be the modern day Kennedys. One of the Ricketts boys, Petey, tried to buy a Senate seat by spending more time saying cliche lines than EVER saying what he’d do. He lost. Republican lost in Nebraska. Seriously. Most Nebraskan’s said he wasn’t good enough. I think he might run for Governor. The only thing he wants to do is tell others how to live, as a member of a billion dollar family, he’s the last to tell people how to live. Oh, and TD Ameritrade fired, I mean “eliminated” a lot of people right around the time they bought the team. Looked really bad.

    Joe earned his way into a fortune. If by earn you mean use others money to make yourself rich too, well yeah he earned it. But really, he did earn his way into a billion dollar net worth.

    There’s an issue with them that makes the idea of them owning the team silly. They don’t want to be “new money”. They live in the snobbiest area of Omaha, where you literally only live there to make sure everyone knows you are a. rich b. an ass. Trust me, I spent plenty of time in Fairacre’s homes. They are nice, but not worth the price tag or the perception.

    Had Mark Cuban not been screwed over, I think the Cubs are battling for a World Series this year. He would have spent every dollar needed. He’s already made it to the top of the NBA. He would have definitely put his all into the Cubs. They would have made the playoffs the last two years. In a sport where you can literally buy a solid roster, Cuban would spend. Cuban makes enough money in other ventures, sports are his play ground. I wouldn’t be surprised if his profits from the Mavs ain’t all that great compared to other teams. Doesn’t care. He just wants to win. The Ricketts are not worried about that. They have other stuff to worry about.

    The Ricketts come from a life surrounded by stocks and financing. They are in it for the long haul. Theo said it. They plan on owning the Cubs for years and years. So why do they care about winning now? What is there motivation to spend, win, then slip back down? Because they don’t want to spend. They want to EARN. When all people can talk about is the PED stuff, A-Rod, and all that. No. This is a LONG term investment. They won’t pump up Wrigley as long as it’s the most popular destination spot in almost all of sports. How many people do you know would rather go to Wrigley, than brand new Target field in Minnesota. This team is their future. Owning a major sports franchise is a major “Nah Nah, I got this, you don’t”. You don’t think Jerry Jones reminds his billionaire friends he owns “America’s Team”? Basically it’d be like if Mr. Burns bought the team. The only reason he’d spend a dime is if it meant beating a rival.

    Cubs fans, if I were you, I would get together, and make it clear the Ricketts will not enjoy the years to come as attendance drops, TV ratings fall, and overall interest dies down. They own the team so you will pay way too much for a ticket. Way too much for a beer and hotdog. And will charge your local cable company WAY too much for a team that is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in May. Unless they spend money on key free agents, get some young talent, and make it clear they are trying.

    Boston went from crap to Champs.

    If you want to win, you can. If you have the right people in place. Theo is good, but he is playing with half a deck. Basically, the owners of the Royals look like Robert Kraft next to the Ricketts.

    Sad. Great franchise. Hate to see them stay in the cellar. Just my opinion, but the Ricketts are quickly becoming the worst owners in sports.

    • bender4700 - Jan 21, 2014 at 1:15 AM

      For those that tl:dr

      The Ricketts = Not great owners. Not worried about spending. If the team is supposed to be in their family for generations, they don’t really care about winning, as much as they care about profitability.

      Which means, “there’s always next year” staying in the Cubs Fans’ Lexicon.

      Sorry guys. Omahan’s know the Ricketts.

      Warren Buffett wouldn’t be a good team owner either, he’s not about spending. To win, you have to spend. Good team owners know that to win, means make less. You still make $$$, but make a little less.

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