The Rundown: Carter Hawkins Meets Media Monday, Ricketts Reaches Out to Fans, Joctober Madness, MLB to Cover MiLB Housing Costs, League Exploring In-Market Streaming

Depending on which way your fandom is trending, you’re either buying in or tuning out what the Cubs were peddling this weekend. Love/hate relationships generally produce myriad feelings, including scorn and doubt, but no matter how you feel about Chicago’s executive and ownership branches, both are promising to provide plenty of hot stove news this winter.

On Friday, Jed Hoyer officially announced Carter Hawkins as the team’s newest GM, filling the vacancy created when Hoyer took over for Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations late last fall. Hawkins arrives from Cleveland, where he was assistant GM to Mike Chernoff.

The newly minted GM has a background in player development, which will be a welcome addition to an organization that boasts a boatload of promising arms at almost every minor league level. Hawkins contributed to the development of Cleveland’s starting rotation in recent years, one that has had great success at the major league level. Some of the team’s star pitchers past and present include Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Triston McKenzie, among others. There are a couple more promising pitchers in the Guardians pipeline, including Daniel Espino and Gavin Williams.

Hawkins and Hoyer will meet with the media today, and Hoyer has said repeatedly since the season ended that starting pitching is the team’s number one priority this winter. Cubs starters had a 5.27 ERA this year, which ranked 27th in baseball. Getting five quality innings per game out of the rotation was something of a rarity, putting added pressure on the bullpen that frequently churned through personnel.

In other team news, Tom Ricketts sent a note to season ticket holders and those on the waiting list this weekend. Love or hate him, he’s promised to spend money this winter, wants the team to be competitive, and pledged his love for the fans who stuck with the team through its roster overhaul at the trade deadline.

“While highs and lows are a part of our game and nothing novel for unwavering Cubs fans,” Ricketts wrote. “I know 2021 was a lot to process. Further, while making good long-term decisions with our roster looks good on paper, it doesn’t soften the pain of losing or the emptiness of missing the postseason. With our attention now solely on the 2022 season, please know this: we respect your high expectations, we share your desire to win and we commit to fielding a competitive team reflective of your unrivaled support. We’re more than excited to enjoy both the journey and our ultimate destination of winning another World Series championship with you again soon.”

Many of us have been critical of Ricketts and we know the sting of being let down time after time since 2017, but I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt this winter. I don’t believe that “spending intelligently” is corporate-speak for persuing the unwanted and misfits section of free agency, though nobody can convince me that players like Max Scherzer, Kris Bryant, and Carlos Correa will be targeted by Hoyer and Hawkins. Still, the tandem should have plenty of financial ammunition to build back better, apologies to Joe Biden. If anything, it should be an interesting offseason once the new CBA is in place. As usual, we’ll have you covered here at Cubs Insider with all of the rumors and breaking news.

Cubs News & Notes

From the Front Office

“I am thrilled to bring Carter [Hawkins] into our organization. He has earned a fantastic reputation as a leader through hard work, open-mindedness, humility, and intelligence. I enjoyed getting to know him throughout the interview process, and it quickly became clear that we share the same passion for team building. I look forward to partnering with him to build the next great Cubs team.” – Hoyer

Climbing the Ladder

Congratulations to the Chicago Sky, your 2021 WNBA champions!

Championship Series News & Notes

The Braves held serve at home to take a 2-0 lead in the NLCS and could be on the verge of upsetting the 109-win Dodgers.

Los Angeles outfielder Mookie Betts said the Braves are “really good.”

The legend of “Joctober” continues to grow after another booming home run by former Cubs left fielder Joc Pederson in last night’s game.

Speaking of legends, super UT Kiké Hernández of the Red Sox is this year’s championship series breakout star.

Last Night’s MVP

  1. Eddie Rosario – Hitting from the leadoff spot, the Atlanta left fielder enjoyed a 4-for-5 night with a walk-off RBI single as the Braves edged the Dodgers 5-4.

How About That!

In a dramatic development, the league will require its teams to cover the costs of minor league housing in 2022. Some players have opted to live in their cars or team clubhouses and in many other cases, players have packed as many teammates as possible into apartments to help minimize rent and utility payments. Exact details have yet to be finalized, but MLB will make an official announcement before the start of the 2022 season.

The league is also reportedly considering its own in-market streaming service in an attempt to reach viewers who refuse to be tethered to an existing cable TV contract. Perhaps that’s why Rob Manfred recently dismissed Sinclair’s attempt to provide streaming services through its RSNs.

The Padres are expected to interview former St. Louis manager Mike Shildt for their own managerial vacancy. Shildt was shockingly fired by the Cardinals last week.

Nationals outfielder Juan Soto still has three more seasons to go before he becomes a free agent, but as was the case with Bryce Harper before him, it’s impossible to ignore the noise surrounding the record-breaking contract he’s likely to command.

Extra Innings

Ted Williams stepping up to the plate with the Red Sox down a run probably didn’t give that pitcher the warm fuzzies.

They Said It

  • “While we failed to extend our six-straight winning seasons streak and secure our spot in the postseason, we made important changes that put us in a position to succeed as we build the next great Cubs team. Beginning to replenish our much-improved farm system was just the start. Jed and the team are now focused on reloading our roster. We have the resources necessary to compete in 2022 and beyond, and we will use them. We will be active in free agency and continue to make thoughtful decisions to bolster our team this offseason.” – Ricketts

Monday Walk-Up Song

Lies by the Black Keys – Though I believe Ricketts will deliver on his promises, we shouldn’t be afraid to call him out if he lets us down again. At least we have textual evidence of his stated intentions.

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