The GM Meetings are still underway in Scottsdale, but don’t expect any significant player movement to take place prior to their conclusion. This summit is all about voting on rules changes and setting the stage for what will come later in the winter. Much of that is because teams are only now starting to solidify their coaching staffs and won’t have 40-man rosters set for another week or so.
The Cubs have made several organizational changes since the close of the 2019 season, shaking up their development infrastructure and other departments while filling out the staff under David Ross. They’ve already replaced bullpen coach Lester Strode with Chris Young and have announced that first base coach Will Venable would return in a similar capacity, but still need to name another base coach and a quality assurance coach.
There’s also the matter of replacing Tim Buss as strength and conditioning coach, which may fall more under the purview of performance director Adam Beard. Minutia aside, the Cubs are interested in getting these personnel decisions out of the way quickly in order to move on to, well, other personnel decisions.
“We’d love to get [the coaching staff] done by the end of the week,” Hoyer said, per Tony Andracki of NBC Sports Chicago. “I don’t know if that’s realistic or not, but that’d be a great goal. We’re starting to put together some meetings and stuff with those guys coming to Chicago, so it’s not like we’re not moving forward with stuff. But I do feel like it’s time to have that locked down.”
We knew from the start that Ross was going to want some of his own guys in there when he stepped into Joe Maddon’s shoes, now it’s a matter of finding the right fit. The rookie manager doesn’t just need familiar faces, he’s going to want some seasoned baseball minds to come in and help with a cultural shift as well. Of course, the Cubs know that camaraderie is still very important.
“Having someone on that staff that you trust that you’ve known from the past that you can vent to or grab a beer with or grab breakfast with and talk about it, I think that’s really important,” Hoyer said.
Once they get the coaches in place, real work can begin on giving Ross an immersion course in how the organization works. He’s clearly familiar with that from his time as a player and special assistant, but being the manager requires a whole new level of competence and familiarity. Think of it like the difference between learning a language via Rosetta Stone and actually living in a different country for a few months.
Being on the same page is going to be important when it comes to establishing a rapport with players both old and new, especially when those new players need to be figured out here soon. And while Ross won’t be making any decisions on who comes or goes, his input is going to be valued when it comes to how he can and/or has worked with given players.
That doesn’t mean all the familiar faces from 2016 are still going to be around, though, since the Cubs are at a point where their dwindling control and rising financial obligations may necessitate changes. Theo Epstein admitted earlier in the week that the time for difficult decisions was rapidly approaching, and the last three seasons of diminishing returns positively scream for a new direction.
“We’ve had a stable core for five years,” Hoyer said. “We’re going to have change.”
Exactly what form that change takes has yet to be seen, though that hasn’t stopped various reports and rumors from cropping up over the last few weeks. That’s par for the course when you start cooking on the hot stove, which is why Chef Theo recommended taking everything with a “moutful of salt” when trade talk crops up. Hoyer was certainly salty in his assessment of #RumorSZN, seemingly calling out pretty much the entire content-generation industry.
Jed Hoyer on trade rumors involving Cubs players:
"People are gonna put stuff out there about our guys and there's definitely some clickbait opportunity about our guys. We have a lot of guys who have been All-Stars and you can put a story out pretty easily that gets clicks."
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) November 13, 2019
“People are gonna put stuff out there about our guys and there’s definitely some clickbait opportunity about our guys,” the GM said Tuesday. “We have a lot of guys who have been All-Stars and you can put a story out pretty easily that gets clicks.”
Boy howdy, can you ever. Rather than feel personally targeted, which I’m not because Hoyer doesn’t know me from Adam, I’m going to say those barbs were aimed pretty directly at a certain Forbes writer whose name rhymes with Trill Dodgers. I’d worry that his editor might come find me online to ensure his work is properly cited, but I don’t think Forbes cares as much as the Sun-Times.
The funny part of this whole thing is that the Cubs finalizing their coaching staff is only going to lead to more rumors, since they’re going to turn their focus solely to free agency and trades. That means enduring an increasingly rapid cycle of clickbait and salt that’ll have us all twisted up like pretzels. Man, these rumors are makin’ me thirsty.