“Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass, you know his faults, now let his foibles pass.” – George Harrison
It’s Jed Hoyer Day in Chicago. Theo Epstein has had more than a little fun at his former sidekick’s expense, starting today, but the organization is now Hoyer’s to run.
Things in life always seem to come full circle, so here’s a quote from the Cubs new president of baseball operations that goes all the way back to the day he was introduced as GM in November of 2011:
“I think it’s too early to say [who the team will look at in free agency],” Hoyer said. “But I do think it’s fair to say we have to spend some time rebuilding the pitching staff. I look at what happened last year from the outside with them losing two starters the first week of the season. It’s very difficult for any team to survive that, but the Cubs didn’t have the depth to do that. Even though we have confidence in some of the starters, we have a need to add more …. Injuries can never be an excuse for a bad season. You have to make sure that you have depth to avoid the inevitable and survive.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same. I didn’t even need the book of idioms that Joe Maddon used to carry around to provide that insight. Strangely, the Cubs may find themselves trading from their rotation to strengthen the rest of the team. Yu Darvish or Kyle Hendricks could potentially provide a nice return and Alec Mills might fetch some decent lower-tier prospects as well.
It’s possible that one of Jon Lester or Jake Arrieta could return to fill the fifth rotation spot. Additionally, Hoyer needs to find rotation depth, a contact hitter with defensive versatility, some bullpen help, and he’ll have to determine who to protect in the Rule 5 Draft while deciding which arb-eligible players should be offered a contract and which should not. He still needs to round out his executive staff, including naming a general manager, and he and David Ross will need to replace third base coach Will Venable, who joined the Red Sox organization earlier this week.
There’s more: The farm system is extremely top-heavy and ranked as one of the worst in baseball; Hoyer’s baseball operations budget will be slashed after two years of excess and a large portion of his staff has already been gutted by ownership in the wake of Covid-19 financial losses. The Cubs are still the best team in the NL Central, though, and their rivals are dealing with similar hardships.
To say Hoyer has some challenges ahead is an understatement, and though I am not in favor of terms and phrases like “rebuild,” “retool,” or “heavy restart,” the team’s 2021 roster will definitely have the stamp of the new guy in charge. That’s true no matter which current players help fill those 26 spots and which do not. It won’t be an easy task, but it’s not like Hoyer has no experience.
Cubs fans will need to exercise patience, too. Even the best organizations, Chicago included, are wrong 45% of the time. It seemed at times that Epstein did not have the luxury of being wrong, and his mistakes were often compounded more than they needed to be. Hoyer will at least get some grace period from fans and ownership alike. There will be missteps, but there will also be home runs, and I have no doubt Hoyers is more than ready to take the reins and will prove to be more than capable of leading the team to its next championship.
Cubs News & Notes
- The organization believes it is well-positioned to succeed immediately as Hoyer transitions to his new position.
- Though Epstein had some truly wonderful moments in his tenure with team, let’s not forget Hoyer was also instrumental in helping the Cubs end their 108-year-old drought in 2016.
- Wrigley Field has been named an historical landmark by the city of Chicago, a designation that will greatly benefit the Ricketts family financially.
- Javier Báez and Kris Bryant are listed among the favorites to win the 2021 NL MVP award.
- With a year-long suspension handed down to Robinson Canó this week, the Mets suddenly seem like a good fit in a potential trade for Bryant.
- Because 2020 was such a wretched year for the team’s core players, and because they’re all due significant raises in arbitration, Hoyer may not be able to move any of his top players this winter. It will be interesting to see how he handles this year’s trade deadline though.
- Mark Melancon could be a nice fit for the Cubs bullpen in free agency.
- Brad Hand is another reliever the Cubs might like to pursue if the funds are available.
- Outfielder Ian Miller is among six minor league free agents the Cubs have recently signed.
- A Cubs fan received a donor kidney from a Cardinals fan and it’s a truly inspiring story.
Odds & Sods
Yes, Bobby Bonilla is still getting paid and will be for quite some time. The Mets bought out the $5.6 million left on Bonilla’s contract in 1999 in a deal that gave the retired outfielder $29.8 million, split into annual payments of $1.19 million, to be paid on July 1 of every year from 2011 to 2035.
Steve Cohen suggests holding actual Bobby Bonilla Day ceremonies: https://t.co/KqU3StzLwC
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) November 20, 2020
MLB is aiming for an April 1, 2021 start date, hopes to play a full 162-game schedule, and anticipates that the minor leagues will play a full season schedule starting May 1, as well.
The Marlins naming Kim Ng general manager last week was a win for baseball and society as a whole.
The Cardinals are generating a variety of models to determine their financial outlook for 2021, and that includes everything from a reduced schedule to a full house at Busch Stadium, something officials think is unlikely for the coming season.
The Brewers have promoted Matt Arnold to senior VP and general manager.
MLB has reduced the suspension it levied against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman from three games to two for throwing at the head of Rays pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau in October. Chapman will serve his suspension to begin the 2021 season.
Baseball was “appropriately weird” in 2020.
It’s tough to say that we took the standard of excellence set by Ichiro Suzuki for granted, but put in this perspective, it’s quite possible we witnessed the greatest hitter of all time.
Ted Williams never had over 200 hits in one season.
Tony Gwynn had 5 seasons where he had over 200 hits.
Pete Rose had over 200 hits 10 times in 25 seasons.
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) November 19, 2020
They Said It
- “For the last nine years, I have worked alongside so many dedicated colleagues with one goal in mind — to build a team and an organization that makes Cubs fans proud and provides them with memories of a lifetime. I will provide continuity to a department that has had tremendous successes over the past six seasons. Ultimately, this transition is about the future, and I look forward to constantly pushing the Cubs to evolve and grow to ensure that there is sustained success at Wrigley Field.” – Jed Hoyer
- “He’s going to do an outstanding job. He deserves this opportunity and the Cubs are lucky to have him. He’s been a huge part of everything we’ve done here.” – Theo Epstein
- “We have had our most successful period in over a century under Theo’s leadership, and we are grateful for everything he has given to this organization and this city. Jed has been a big part of that success too and offers a combination of continuity and a fresh perspective that will serve us well as we look forward to another period of sustained success.” – Tom Ricketts
Friday Walk Up Song
Cheer Down by George Harrison – By all accounts, Epstein and Hoyer have a truly special relationship. Many of us will miss Epstein and it might be a rough start, but in the end, I believe Jed will be among the greats in team history.