Ricketts: Cubs can compete for NL Central title in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
As the Cubs Convention kicks off Friday evening for the first time since 2020, fans are getting their first look at a revamped Cubs roster that aims to measurably improve upon a 74-88 showing in 2022, 19 games behind the division champion Cardinals.
While offseason acquisitions have helped establish expectations from fans, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts went a step further while speaking to NBC Chicago’s Leila Rahimi.
“I think this team will be able to compete for our division,” Ricketts told Rahimi, while adding that he expects the team to continue to progress.
“The amount of success we’ve had in the minors the past couple of years is pretty tremendous. For now, we have one of the stronger minor league systems, and there’s a lot of guys down there who I think will contribute,” Ricketts added.
While the Cubs figure to be better than the Pirates and Reds, both of whom boast low payrolls and are in the midst of a rebuilding phase, the North Siders do have two win-now teams that finished ahead of them in the standings last year.
“I think we’ve we’ve definitely improved our offense. We’ve dramatically improved our defense and we have a lot of pitching depth. Everyday, there’s going to be a lot of pieces and parts for us to work with to put the best team on the field,” Ricketts said.
The Cubs’ offensive improvements will be the most apparent come spring time perhaps, coming off of a team OPS+ of 96 in 2022, well below the 114 OPS+ of the division champion Cardinals, which was good enough for second in the MLB.
Rahimi then asked Ricketts about his thoughts on the massive signings in recent offseasons, particularly referencing the exorbitant spending of Mets owner Steve Cohen.
“Well, I mean, I think from from our perspective, what we really focus on is just sticking to our plan. There’s always going to be there’s always going to be some big signings. There’s always going to be some some noise outside of what of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Ricketts said.
Cubs fans are particularly hopeful that the one-year deal given to former NL MVP Cody Bellinger reaps a significant reward, optimistic that a change of scenery can help recreate Bellinger’s success earlier in his career.
Ricketts added that the addition of General Manager Carter Hawkins is integral to the organization’s plan, citing modernization of the team’s player development and adopting new training…