The Rundown: Hoyer Has Somewhat Thawed Winter of Our Discontent, Hendricks Ascends to Top of Rotation, Tatís Signs Historic Contract Extension

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” – William Shakespeare

If we graded Jed Hoyer on the headlines he’s generated since taking over for Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations, he’d definitely earn an A for shock and awe. Most of us (read: me) may have been too quick to judge, and owe the man an apology. Like the blue-collar craftsmen that helped forge the marvel that is Chicago’s beautiful skyline, Hoyer has provided a better-than-yeomanly force at a time when the entire organization could have easily come crashing down.

Epstein didn’t have the wherewithal to do what his replacement has been asked to do, but Hoyer executed his plan with tremendous efficiency. He cut payroll, patched up some of the team’s more pronounced inconsistencies, added depth to one of the league’s poorer farm systems, and will field a team that has a legitimate chance of winning the NL Central. Let’s be honest: When he non-tendered Kyle Schwarber and traded Yu Darvish, most of us believed the Cubs were barreling toward a 60-win season

In fact, Hoyer has been so proficient at checking the boxes of his offseason to-do list that he actually earned favor from Tom Ricketts in the way of a bump to his baseball operations budget. It may not have been much, but the hike in payroll was certainly enough to bring Joc Pederson, Jake Arrieta, and Brandon Workman to Chicago. Those players fit right in with the club mentality the front office has established so far, and the extra money also allowed Hoyer to add Jared Banner to his staff as VP of special projects.

Though the North Siders enter training camp with a few question marks, they have a strong veteran presence and a roster full of players who know what it takes to play winning baseball. They’re better defensively, Pederson gives them a strong lineup presence to replace Schwarber, and the rotation could be as deep as nine starters depending on wildcards like Shelby Miller and Kohl Stewart, and rookies Adbert Alzolay and Brailyn Márquez.

They’re not as deep or versatile on offense as recent iterations, but Joe Maddon isn’t managing this team anymore and David Ross prefers a more consistent lineup. Hoyer may also have enough of a budgetary cushion to add depth during the season if he needs to. With a roster full of players on essentially one-year deals, the new president of baseball operations can also pivot seamlessly to sell mode if things go by the wayside. It’s been quite some time since the Cubs have had that type of in-season flexibility.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Current and former MLB players are loving the Instagram mini-me versions of themselves.

Spring Training News & Notes

The Padres kicked off Spring Training on a high note: Fernando Tatís Jr., the 22-year-old shortstop widely viewed as baseball’s brightest young star, agreed to a 14-year deal worth $340 million Wednesday night. That could keep him in San Diego for the rest of his career, though the Mets will still be paying Bobby Bonilla for one more year after that. Tatís’s deal is the longest in MLB history and ranks third all-time in terms of dollars.

New Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer has the potential to be the biggest bust of the 2020-21 free agent class.

If MLB manages to expand the playoffs this year or permanently, Nationals starter Max Scherzer would like to see the league incorporate a round-robin tournament for the Wild Card and Division Series rounds. Scherzer is on the executive subcommittee of the players’ union and a member of MLB’s rules committee.

Tim Tebow is retiring from baseball after five years as a minor leaguer with the Mets. I’m not going to link an article because this announcement was way overdue.

The Metropolitans are close to signing Taijuan Walker, according to reports.

The Blue Jays will play their regular season home games at their Spring Training home in Dunedin, FL until Canada changes its COVID-19 border restrictions.

The Rangers intend to show much more intestinal fortitude this season. GM Chris Young stated that “by the time teams are done playing us, they’re going to know what the Texas Rangers stand for.”

Texas manager Chris Woodward added that his players “should expect a little more chaos” this season.

Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola has been consistently terrible during the final month of the season for his entire career. The Phillies are hoping to change that in ’21.

Tony La Russa started his second tenure with the White Sox amid controversy and deception, but could still be regarded as a hero of sorts if he leads Chicago’s South Side baseballers to the World Series.

La Russa said he welcomes any and all judgments surrounding his DUI arrest last year.

Cody Allen, Cleveland’s all-time saves leader, has decided to retire.

Extra Innings

Should the USOC ever make diaper throwing an Olympic event, Buster Posey certainly has a leg up on the competition.

They Said It

  • “Kyle is a guy who stays in great shape, he is very durable and we trust in the innings that he can give us, but we’re gonna be smart. I’ve got a lot of confidence in [him], but I don’t wanna put any numbers on innings. The guy that I worry about the least is Kyle Hendricks.” – David Ross
  • “I think I’m ready to take on a full load again. I know what it’s like to go through a full season, so I can lean on that experience. I just want to be there, be that consistent force for these guys, take the ball every fifth day and they know what they can get out of me.” – Kyle Hendricks

Thursday Walk Up Song

Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin – When Hendricks first came to the Cubs, Arrieta was the leader of the team’s pitching staff. Now their roles have reversed.

Back to top button