Believe it or not, Jed Hoyer has been just as busy as almost every other baseball executive this winter. The difference between him and his peers is that Hoyer has been mostly subtracting pieces from the roster he inherited from Theo Epstein. The Cubs have more lineup holes now than it did when the Marlins blanked them in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and the pickings are getting slim as free agents continue to sign elsewhere.
With that in mind, consider Hoyer lucky that he was able to convince Shelby Miller to sign a non-guaranteed deal with the Cubs. Were this 2013, that might be cause for a palpable level of excitement, but to be honest, I didn’t know Miller was still pursuing a career as a professional baseball player. If you’ve seen the movie Major League, you might find some parallels to the fictionalized version of the Cleveland franchise and Hoyer’s work with the Cubs so far. Borrowing from the movie, allow me some poetic leeway.
Senior Advisor Billy Williams: I’ve never heard of half of these guys and the ones I do know are way past their primes.
Assistant GM Randy Bush: Most of these guys never even had a prime.
Jed Hoyer: The facts remain we barely won our division and were swept in the playoffs by Miami. We haven’t won a postseason series since 2017 and we’ve scored just 10 runs in our last eight playoff games. Obviously, it’s time for some changes.
SVP Player Personnel Jason McLeod: This guy here is dead.
Jed Hoyer: [obviously…] Well cross him off, Jason.
Major League is such a legendary movie 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/MDT2Pc2Ln5
— Baseball Central™ (@BaseballCentraI) November 29, 2018
I wish I was joking, but professional baseball teams do tank and watching it unfold just four seasons removed from a World Series championship is particularly unnerving. Hoyer essentially burning down the house can’t bode well for core players hoping the front office will sign them to extensions. Then again, slapping on a couple coats of paint the last few seasons hasn’t really worked either.
“Once we get back to a place where we feel like we want to step on the gas again, we will financially,” Hoyer said recently. “We will be in that market again just as soon as we have a team that has the bones necessary to do that. We are at this period at the end of the window where I don’t think that would make a lot of sense right now.”
It’s entirely possible that by the time 2022 rolls around, Chicago will have the lowest payroll in the NL Central. Think about what that represents for a second. We can get all giddy that the youth movement may lead to the next wave of Cubs superstars, but is this the only way for the front office to move forward? If you think about it, this type of rebuild might be even more dramatic than the one engineered by Epstein and Hoyer 10 years ago. We were promised that would never happen again, yet here we are, watching the front office bottom-feeding once more.
I suppose the hope is that the Cubs can get Miller untracked, get a few quality starts from him, and then flip him at the deadline. Then again, his ERA over his last 60 major league innings is 9.15 and includes a 1.98 WHIP with 1.95 HR/9. The more likely scenario is that Miller accepts a minor league assignment and gets a spot start here and there to relieve what will surely be a taxed rotation as the season wears on.
Welcome to the 2021 season, Cubs fans. It’s going to be different, which is a nice way of saying to temper your expectations.
Cubs News & Notes
- Miller is a low-risk addition for the Cubs, whose rotation has faced significant upheaval this offseason. Hoyer traded Yu Darvish to the Padres, and Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood, and José Quintana are free agents.
- If Hoyer is looking for more reclamation projects to stack his rotation, Chris Archer is still available.
- Perhaps it’s time for the Ricketts family to consider selling the team.
- Brailyn Márquez discussed making his debut as a reliever (video content) and shared a bit about his preparation and goals for the 2021 season.
- The story of how Harry Caray started the 7th-inning tradition of singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is pretty interesting.
Apropos of Nothing
I wonder how many of the fans who first started following the Cubs in the middle of the past decade have abandoned ship this winter.
Odds & Sods
— Michael Canter 🌻💫💀 (@MEdwardCanter) January 18, 2021
Former Athletics pitcher Dave Stewart has submitted a $115 million bid to purchase the city’s 50 percent stake in the site of the Oakland Coliseum. The Oakland native said he plans to redevelop the area, potentially with a new stadium, if the Athletics’ plans for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal do not materialize.
As part of the league’s DREAM Series, MLB hosted several online panel discussions on a variety of topics, with lively conversations touching on everything from game preparation to refining mechanics to exactly what goes through a player’s mind when he’s on the field. Marcus Stroman and CC Sabathia were two of many players who participated.
A great piece by former Cubs outfielder Doug Glanville and an introspective look at race relations pertaining to baseball and fatherhood as we honor Dr. Martin Luther King today.
My father, who passed before meeting any of his grandchildren, shared a birthday with Martin Luther King Jr. Today I explore being a father and the opportunity to manage in #MLB when race and conflict are so front and center in America. @espn https://t.co/Je5MC6EUNK
— Doug Glanville (@dougglanville) January 18, 2021
They Said It
Jed Hoyer quotes on some of the Cubs’ new prospects:
- “[Reginald Preciado] was a high-profile signing out of Panama. He’s a switch-hitting shortstop. He’s grown a lot in the last year, and like I’ll say probably with each of these guys, I think he probably needs to add some strength. But, his actions are really good. At the outset, he can certainly stay at shortstop. But, certainly, he was a guy that was very highly regarded and important to this deal.”
- “Owen Caissie was a guy we liked in the Draft. He was hard to scout. He’s a Canadian kid, and obviously this year was kind of short. But, we really liked what we evaluated during the Draft, and we really liked what we saw briefly in instructional league on the backfields. He’s an athletic left-handed hitter with a really good swing. I think he has the ability to add some real strength. We were excited to add him to the organization.”
- “We’ve really liked what we saw in instructional league [of Ismael Mena]. We thought he played really well given his age and his first time in the States. We liked him on the international market. Obviously, he signed with the Padres for a significant amount of money and we weren’t able to sign him. But, we liked him on the international market. We liked what we saw in instructional league. We’re excited to work with him.”
- “[Yesion] Santana is the older guy in the group, but he really performed in the [Arizona League] the year before. His bat-to-ball skills are really good. He’s got really good actions at shortstop and certainly can stay on the dirt.”
Monday Walk Up Song
I’m going with the Beatles 1969 rooftop show in its entirety this morning because I just need something that will make me smile. It’s been a horrible weekend.