Ricketts grateful for Cubs fans' patience

Club's young talent responsible for postseason berth

Ricketts grateful for Cubs fans' patience

CHICAGO -- The turning point this season for the Cubs may actually have occurred in July 2014, when the team traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics. Chicago acquired shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Billy McKinney, who were both in the Minor Leagues at the time. But that was the last deal in which the Cubs flipped a veteran player for young talent.

"It was really the last piece we had to move in order to start moving forward," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said Monday prior to the team's last regular-season home game.

Russell is now starting for the Cubs, who are headed to the postseason for the first time since Ricketts took over. On Saturday, Ricketts was able to celebrate the team's first trip to the playoffs since 2008, and was OK with having a pair of shoes ruined because of too much champagne.

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"The people who deserve credit are away from the guys on the baseball side and that's the fans," Ricketts said. "I don't think many teams could've done what we just did in terms of asking everyone to be patient and believe in us."

What the Cubs did was emphasize rebuilding the Minor League system and developing their own players, which resulted in losing seasons from 2009-14. Most thought the 2016 season would be when all of the young talent would produce a playoff-bound team. But Ricketts said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein felt this year that they had a chance.

"We had the good fortune to get one of the best managers in the game, and here we are," Ricketts said of the addition of Joe Maddon, who was hired last November.

Epstein's contract ends in 2016, and Ricketts said they have yet to discuss an extension.

"Right now, we're just focused on the postseason," Ricketts said. "Theo and I have a great relationship. Obviously, the results are great. I think, not just Theo, but everyone in the baseball organization, we're on a mission, and we want to keep that mission going forward."

The Cubs do need to continue to develop homegrown talent, Ricketts said.

"As you know, it's not about payroll anymore in baseball," he said. "It's about what you get. The fact is the correlation between the dollars you spend and the wins you get on the field is going down every single year. In order to have sustainable success, you can't count on money, you have to count on young talent. You see what we've done."

The Cubs are relying on youth this season with rookies Russell, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber playing a large part in the team's success.

Not only is the rebuilding of the team going well, but the Wrigley Field renovation project is on schedule, Ricketts said.

"It's a pretty obvious analogy between what's happening on the field and what's happening off the field," he said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.