A couple of days after Theo Epstein met the media for his Cubs 2014 season postmortem, Jed Hoyer joined the Kap and Haugh show on 87.7 The Game on Thursday and covered a number of other interesting topics.
The conversation started with the area of free agency (obviously a major deal for the Cubs this off-season). Hoyer acknowledged that baseball is now a “younger man’s game” and that older players are not what they used to be.
He stressed the need for a strong farm system and teams today can’t be built on free agency alone.
In regard to this off-season, he reiterated what Theo Epstein said on Tuesday: that the Cubs will not place all of their eggs in this year’s off-season basket. He said the Cubs will be smart and add pieces that help them win the division next year, but not jeopardize the team’s long-term goals.
I think this goes along with Theo saying that pieces will be obtained over the next “15 months.” So if the players they want can’t be obtained this off-season, the Cubs’ front office may strike during the trade deadline or next off-season if that makes more sense.
Teams now are rewarded for their long-term vision and patience, Hoyer said.
When asked whether Cubs ownership would pony up for a big signing or trade that might require a little extra money, Hoyer said it was “no question” that Tom Ricketts would do so. He said Ricketts is “totally on-board” with the Plan.
Hoyer admitted that free agency can be tricky and that the Cubs may need to over-spend for pitching, since “Ninety-eight percent of players go to the highest bidder.”
But if a team is receiving value with cost-controlled players in multiple areas, it can afford to spend a little extra on pitching to fill in the holes, he said.
This obviously describes the state of the Cubs right now, with their abundance of young, cheap position players they have coming up.
But with that youth, many people believe the Cubs will add some veteran leadership this winter. Hoyer basically confirmed as much. He said that 24- or 25-year-olds (Rizzo, Castro, etc.) shouldn’t be your team’s leaders; they will need to learn from others with more experience before becoming leaders.
One interesting comment came when discussing the Kansas City Royals and how they were built. Hoyer explained teams can be built differently and still succeed.
The Royals looked at their ballpark and decided to build a team that doesn’t have a lot of power, but has a great bullpen and strikes out rarely. Hoyer then switched over to the Cubs and admitted they strike out too much right now. This is something we have discussed at length, whether it is a serious concern or not. From the comment, I kind of got the feeling Hoyer believes it’s the former.
The interview concluded on the topic of Javier Baez’s struggles. Hoyer said the Cubs realize that every one of the team’s major prospects will have difficulties at some point. He praised manager Rick Renteria for having the patience needed to go through the “pain” of the struggles, and hopefully get results.
Cuban slugger declares free agency
Yasmany Tomas, a 23-year-old Cuban outfielder, has declared free agency, according to his agent.
Tomas, who previously had been cleared to play by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, is a right-handed slugger who is expected to be the next big Cuban signing.
Every MLB team reportedly witnessed a workout with Tomas last month. The Cubs haven’t yet been linked to Tomas directly, but it’s possible they pursue him. He’ll most likely be expensive, but we know the Cubs aren’t content with the outfielders currently on the team. It’ll all depend on how much the Cubs like Tomas’ skills.
Division Series kick off
Well my Division Series picks sure are off to a not-so-great start.
The Tigers’ bullpen (a serious concern for them this year) was pounded in the team’s 12-4 loss to the Orioles. Max Scherzer (who I suppose, technically, could be a target for the Cubs this winter, though I doubt it personally) gave up five runs in 7.1 innings.
The Royals won another extra-inning game, as they beat the Angels 3-2 in 11. It was not the thriller that was the AL Wildcard game, but the Royals won with good pitching and a key home run from Mike Moustakas.
Ned Yost continued to troll baseball fans everywhere with his managerial decisions. But hey, they won again. We’ll see how long it lasts.