Ricketts: Good vibrations at Cubs' camp

Chairman addresses high expectations, Epstein, ASG likelihood and Trump

Ricketts: Good vibrations at Cubs' camp

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts addressed several topics Wednesday, including Theo Epstein's contract, a potential All-Star Game at Wrigley Field, and even Donald Trump, while noting the vibe is much different around the team this year.

"Obviously, the team has all the talent and the right leadership to go all the way this year," Ricketts said of the 2016 Cubs. "I think the guys are ready for it. It's a different vibe than we've had in the past. I think everyone's excited to get the season started."

Ricketts and Epstein had dinner Tuesday night, and one topic to be settled is an extension for the Cubs' president of baseball operations, whose contract ends after this season. Ricketts said there was no update, adding "we're on the same page and we just have to hammer it out."

Theo Epstein and Tom Ricketts converse.MLB.com

The Cubs have not hosted an All-Star Game since 1990, and Ricketts said Major League Baseball requires teams to apply for the event. They need to finish the renovations at Wrigley Field before the All-Star Game can be considered, he said.

"We need to execute on our side first before it's really an option for us," Ricketts said. "I believe the league would be open-minded to an All-Star Game [at Wrigley Field] at some point."

Fans won't see too many changes at Wrigley this year -- most of it has been behind the scenes, involving replacing steel and concrete -- but the players will be delighted as they christen a new 30,000-square-foot clubhouse.

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"Your payroll, more so than any other time in history, doesn't determine how many wins you'll have," Ricketts said. "It's not about how much you spend, but how much talent you put on the field and how they perform.

"Whether the payroll is [$150 million] or [$105 million], what happens on the field is what matters. The players on the field determine if you're going to win."

The most bizarre topic Ricketts was compelled to address involved Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who took a jab at the Ricketts family this week on Twitter, saying, "I hear the Rickets [sic] family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $'s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!" 

Although he didn't follow up, Trump's tweet was believed to be related to Joe Ricketts' wife, Marlene, who donated $3 million to a super PAC that spent money in ads and mailings opposing Trump, according to a USA Today report.

"It's a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom," Ricketts said. "Whether it's my mom or my dad on his ending spending stuff, or my sister on marriage equality, or my brothers and what they do, or what we do with the team, we're pretty much an open book. We stand up for what we believe in, we support the causes we think are important, and that's what America should be. That's who we are."

Ricketts said he wasn't sure what Trump was referring to.

"If we had something to hide, [the media] would've found it by now. I have no idea," he said.

It's the first time Ricketts has had to address politics in his pre-Spring Training address.

"[The Cubs are] my No. 1 responsibility, this is what I focus on," Ricketts said. "I'm executing our plan to win the World Series. That's my job. What other people in my family do is their day jobs, and I support everything they do, it's just not my focus. I focus on the things we have to do to win the World Series, improve Wrigley and be better in the community."

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.