Ricketts fields questions at Cubs Convention

Ricketts fields questions at Cubs Convention

Ricketts fields questions at Cubs Convention
CHICAGO -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts fielded questions on everything from the music at Wrigley Field to Ryne Sandberg to Manny Ramirez during a seminar Saturday at the Cubs Convention.

Ricketts was asked about the managerial decision to pick Mike Quade over popular Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Quade replaced Lou Piniella in August and guided the team to a 24-13 record.

"Obviously, Ryne Sandberg is a highly valued treasured member of the Cubs," Ricketts said. "He was always welcome here, he will always be welcome here. He's one of us."

Ricketts said it was Sandberg's decision that he would have a better chance at getting a Major League manager's job if he left the organization. After four years managing in the Cubs' Minor League system, Sandberg is going to handle the Phillies' Triple-A team.

"He certainly wasn't asked to leave or nudged in any way," Ricketts said. "It was a decision he made on his own. ... There's no hard feelings. On the manager's side, I'm certain we made the right decision."

One fan asked about Jim Hendry's standing with the organization, and Ricketts defended the Cubs' general manager. Ricketts said they didn't want to come in and revamp the entire front office, saying they wanted to use the first year as a learning year. The Ricketts family took control of the Cubs in late October 2009.

"We came in here and I think it would be incredibly unfair to walk into an organization and judge people without enough information and make big changes when you don't know what the story is," Ricketts said.

The Ricketts family spent the first year traveling to the Minor League affiliates, getting to know the scouts, the coaches and the players. They asked a lot of questions.

"Over the past year, I've grown in confidence of Jim, to be honest," Ricketts said. "He has a good team of people that he's put together. The real judge of how well he does -- those three playoff games [in 2008], that's a coin flip and I'm not going to hold that against him. What I am going to judge him by is how many players we're consistently bringing up to the Major Leagues and are the dollars we're spending on the big league team being spent well."

The Cubs are working behind the scenes to develop a plan with the city and state to help pay for Wrigley Field renovations. Cubs president Crane Kenney said Chicago fans pay the highest amusement taxes in the country, and the team is trying to get some of that money allocated for the work. The Cubs have hired two architects and the hope is to have everything completed by 2014. They are discussing everything, including adding a video scoreboard, but not removing the current manually operated scoreboard. An online survey of fans showed 60 percent are in favor of a jumbotron-type scoreboard.

One fan said he wasn't happy about the music before players' at-bats rather than having organ music at Wrigley. One of the Cubs suggested letting players pick their own tunes because the team wasn't doing well. The switch didn't change the team's luck and the sound system didn't help.

"Even if you liked the song, you could barely recognize it," Ricketts said.

Another fan suggested the Cubs consider signing Ramirez, but that was greeted by a loud chorus of boos from the audience in the Grand Ballroom. Ricketts said he didn't expect any major additions or changes to the roster prior to Opening Day.