Hoyer Speaks on the State of the Cubs … and Other News, Notes and Rumors

Jed Hoyer addressed several topics with the mainstream media including Bryan LaHair, Anthony Rizzo, the roster, Jeff Samardzija and the Jorge Soler rumors in a sort of a State-of-the-Cubs address.

Hoyer said the Cubs are not done tinkering with the roster and they will be active in trade conversations as Spring Training comes to an end. Hoyer clarified his comment about possible trades by saying they would not be doing their job if they were not talking to other teams.

The Cubs are expected to announce another round of spring roster cuts prior to Thursday’s exhibition game in Surprise. The Cubs currently have 48 players in camp, 33 on the 40-man roster and 15 non-roster invitees.

According to reports, the team would like to finish the spring on a positive note and while win-loss records do not matter, they would like to improve on their 8-12-1 record with 14 games remaining on the Cactus League schedule.

Here is the update …

Paul Maholm
Paul Maholm took the hill at Fitch Park on Wednesday and got his work in against the Giants’ Single-A team. According to reports, Maholm struck out seven over five innings while giving up a run on two hits and a walk. Maholm suited up for the Daytona Cubs and retired 15 of the 18 batters he faced.

Carlos Marmol
The Cubs received good news during the off-day on Carlos Marmol. The MRI revealed no significant nerve injury and he remains on schedule to be ready for the season.

Jed Hoyer and the State of the Cubs
In bullet point format, here are the highlights from Jed Hoyer’s conversation with the mainstream media. The links to the reports are provided below.

  • Hoyer admitted that they are on the prowl for end-of-spring talent.
  • Hoyer is expecting his team to carry the same attitude and energy into the season that they’ve had throughout Spring Training.
  • Hoyer does not see any reason the Cubs cannot be incredibly competitive this season.
  • The Cubs will have money to add pieces during the season to add players. Hoyer said they are going to come in a little under the Opening Day payroll from a year ago and they left a little flexibility so they can make moves if they need to.
  • Hoyer described the reports that the Cubs have a deal in place with Jorge Soler as completely bogus and the rumors have no merit.
  • Hoyer said he would not be surprised if they made a move [trade] before the season begins.
  • Jeff Samardzija has been impressive this spring and Jed Hoyer described his performance as unbelievable.
  • Hoyer and Dale Sveum are on the same page in the belief that wins and losses in the Cactus League carry more weight over the last 10 days of Spring Training.
  • Bryan LaHair will be the Cubs’ first baseman on Opening Day and Anthony Rizzo will begin the season in Triple-A. The Cubs are not worried about LaHair’s struggles at the plate this spring.

ESPN Chicago: Hoyer Not Worried About Spring Struggles
Chicago Sun-Times: Could Cubs’ Glut of Starting Pitchers Lead to Trade?
Chicago Tribune: Cubs Not Done Tinkering

Minor League Transactions
According to Baseball America, the Cubs released several minor league players this week. Those cuts were made Sunday and made public Wednesday.

Right-handed pitchers Yohan Gonzalez and Jordan Latham, shortstop Rafael Valdes and outfielders Ben Klafczynski and Blair Springfield were released and are no longer in the Cubs’ organization.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to a report from the Tribune, front office personnel has begun moving out of cramped Wrigley Field offices to their new digs in a building on the corner of Waveland and Clark.

The Cubs could use another proven reliever and they might have enough depth in a few positions to use in trades according to the Sun-Times.

What was once one of the smallest front offices in baseball has changed. The Cubs new regime has increased the baseball operations department from a staff of around 90 to more a staff of more than 120 according to the Tribune.

According to a report from the Tribune, Travis Wood will likely make his next appearance in a minor league game or in a simulated minor league game as the Cubs try to get him on track.

Gerardo Concepcion is in minor league camp and he could still pitch in a Cactus League game this spring but that is not in the plans right now according to the Tribune. Concepcion is throwing bullpens and the plan is to get him in a minor league game.

Well there’s the update … Opening Day is in 14 days.

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Quote of the Day

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  • Anonymous47701

    Anyone have a picture of the new front office building?

  • Aaron

     I wonder who the Cubs would target this late in spring that would be better than what they already have and not come at the expense of the future…

    Obviously, there are always dozens of out of options players that pass through unclaimed at this time of year due to roster inflexibility.

    I’m just concerned that Hoyer and Epstein already have to deal away a decent prospect to the Padres, and if they make any other deals…well, who goes?

    At this point, it doesn’t look like they have any intentions of trading DeWitt, Baker, Garza, Soriano, Byrd, or Soto, or it would’ve already happened.

    That leaves Wells as the only veteran trade chip they have

    • cubtex

      I hope they don’t give up another top 25 prospect for another suit. As I said a couple of days ago….Give them Casey Weathers and be done with it :)

  • cubtex

    Hoyer cannot see any reason on why the Cubs cannot be incredibly competitive this year??? How about a below average starting rotation, a bad bullpen, no team speed, below average defense and no power.

    • Texcubnut

      I just could’nt agree more. Incredibly competitive??? With who? The Astros? This team is incredibly deficient! I know, I know. They are turning things around….It takes time….Patience…They have a plan….Stocking the minor leagues….etc.  I apologize but I guess I’m getting out my frustrations now rather than wait for the ‘dog days’ of summer when the losses really start piling up. It should be very interesting when Neil asks everyone on this site for their predictions of wins and losses for this season…..very,very interesting!!

    • paulcatanese

      Thats a pretty powerful statement by Hoyer. The rose colored glasses has switched from the fans to the suits.
      Kind of hanging themselves out to dry if it dosent come off.
      Suits certainly dont lack confidence.

      • cubtex

        I guess it is how you interpret “incredibly competitive” This is the first year that I can remember in a while that I just hope they don’t finish last. They should be ahead of the Astros but I am not so sure they will beat out the Pirates. 

        • cc002600

           What the hell do you want him to say ?  We suck and will win 70 games ?
          WTF

          • cubtex

            don’t lie to the fans. say we feel we put together a team that will play hard and compete. He doesn’t have to say he doesn’t see why they will not be incredibly competitive. That is overexaggerating the product that he is putting out there! In your words….. WTF!

        • daverj

          I just said the same thing above before I got to your post!  Didn’t mean to copy your thoughts Cubtex!

    • Aaron

       Hard to disagree with you on that, though I will say that the reason Hoyer most likely said that was because he had to. You cannot give up all hope…you know what I mean?

      I believe they have the best of intentions…the problem is, they are trying to get too cute with everything, and try to find a diamond in the rough player so they can prove to everyone, once again, how smart they are.

      In a way, it sort of resembles Hendry at the end, where he went after guys coming off injury or career years, and gave them big money. In this case, they’re not giving them big money, but they’re still following that same strategy.

      Adrian Cardenas, in all honesty, was an anti-Hendry signing. While it hasn’t panned out yet, and didn’t receive much publicity, Cardenas represents—with statistics—-PRECISELY the type of player Epstein and Hoyer would go after in the past..patient, high OBP, versatility, etc.

      My fear right now, is that I believe they value DeWitt more for some inexplicable reason, and will likely let Cardenas go.

      And while I somewhat agree with the Cashner-Rizzo deal in theory (most teams value everyday players more than relievers…even future closers), I really didn’t understand the move from a depth perspective. Consider this…The Cubs have Lahair, Ridling, Bour, Cuneo, Hoilman, Vogelbach, Shoulders, and even Gretzky lined up at 1B. I think you’d be lying if you said there wasn’t at least one guy in that group that could equal Rizzo…especially Vogelbach. Aside from Shoulders and Gretzky, the other guys are 1-2 years away from contributing at the MLB level. So…to trade a power arm like Cashner for a position we didn’t really need. We need help at 3B and corner OF power more than anything…as well as power arms now….the trade just didn’t make sense from that perspective.

      Consider this…even if Cashner eventually needs surgery like Wood did early in his career, he’d still be a solid future closer and pen arm.

      This spring, he’s appeared in 6 games, 0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 4 hits allowed, 2 walks, 9 K’s, .182 avg against, and 1.00 WHIP

      The only guys the Cubs have in relief that have even come close to those numbers are Dolis and Lendy Castillo, and Castillo has a 3.52 ERA

      With the inconsistencies with Marmol creating a glaring need at the back-end of the bullpen last year…and even more magnified this spring, the Cubs dealt away 3 power arms: Cashner, Carpenter, and Kurcz that all have closing potential, and in the case of Cashner, has the potential to be a front end starter as well.

      A rotation that included:
      Dempster
      Cashner
      Samardzija
      Maholm
      Volstad
      *Garza traded for top prospects

      A pen that included:
      Marmol
      Wood
      Carpenter
      Dolis
      L. Castillo
      Russell
      Maine

      …..would be superior to what we have now.

      Could Rizzo develop into a star? Sure, but his swing is slow and loopy. Do you really think he can fix that? He already bombed in MLB, while Cashner did fairly well.

      All I wanted was a smart front office…someone with a plan. It seems like Theo and Hoyer definitely have a plan, but the plan isn’t very solid right now. They lost sight of actually receiving value with their “long term assets” acquired, and granted, Crane Kenney is the culprit behind the Cubs losing two solid, high velocity pen arms….but still…

      The Marshall trade, receiving a 4th/5th starter at best, a 4th/5th OF at best, and a low-A prospect….WOW….while I understand that Torreyes could save the deal entirely in the next few years….the Cubs got absolutely hosed in the trade…A fair trade would’ve been Corcino, Hamilton/H. Rodriguez, and Torreyes. Hell, even look at what Uehara brought the O’s last year…Hunter and Davis…and Uehara was older and less effective than Marshall.

      Anyway…I’m firmly in the “trust but verify” camp relating to this new front office. I’m not liking the moves I’ve seen. And while others may dismiss their moves to not protect the likes of Marwin Gonzalez and Ryan Flaherty in the Rule 5, which necessitated the moves to sign Bianchi (then lose him even), sign E. Gonzalez and Amezaga, and claim Cardenas…it was a clear indictment of their roster management right off the bat. They didn’t think anyone else would value them, but they were snatched up in the Rule 5. Gonzalez is struggling badly in the spring, but keeping Flaherty would’ve made it a no-brainer to non-tender DeWitt, and keeping both would’ve allowed them to non-tender DeWitt AND Baker…and save about $2.5 million in the process.

      And please don’t anyone misconstrue what I am saying…I am NOT saying that Flaherty and/or Gonzalez will ever be more than career MLB back-ups….but what I am saying is that they have a higher ceiling than Baker and DeWitt. This goes all the way back to the days of Jake Fox, McGehee, and others that I just wanted the Cubs to let them have a chance…it was a matter of signing crappy veterans at the end of their careers to one year deals, thus delaying any promotions they could’ve made.

      It’s signing guys like Baker, DeWitt (who, granted, they ended up DFA-ing…but will likely add him yet again), Johnson, etc., while basically delaying the progress of guys like Flaherty, Campana, etc. in your own system. I just don’t get it.

      The funny thing around MLB is, if you look at all of the veterans signed to 1 year deals, they’re usually signed as “insurance” policies over the prospects, because the prospects are an unknown commodity. HOWEVER, by signing them to a $1-4 million contract or so that’s guaranteed, you’re COMPLETELY blocking that prospect, so it’s not really “insurance” is it?

      And while we’re analyzing this….How many years left on their deals do Johnson, Baker, DeWitt, and Byrd have?

      And what did Hoyer and Epstein say about “long-term assets”. How exactly do those guys fit in those plans then if they only have one year deals?

      Is it a bridge to a prospect that’s not ready yet?

      hmmmmm…pretty sure Campana could replace Johnson. Pretty sure Flaherty could’ve replaced Baker or DeWitt…and pretty damn sure Brett Jackson is ready to replace Byrd.

      So in a rebuilding year….why would you block your prospects?

      I’m not trying to bash this new regime…just trying to pose the question, because they came in with so much fanfare that they were geniuses, and could turn the ship around, etc., and all I’ve seen thus far is Hendry Part 2.

      • cubtex

        I realize Hoyer wants to create optimism and that is the company line…..But did he need to say…..INCREDIBLY?
        On the Marshall trade….at first I was liking it(and it still might work out) IF Travis Wood is not as bad as he has looked this spring. He needs to become a solid #4 for years for this trade to work out…otherwise you are right! They got hosed.
        I think Rizzo will be a very solid 1st base guy. Many players have had excellent careers with what has been termed “non textbook swings”
        I like Cashner alot and heard Josh Byrnes talk about how pleased they are with him. He is not relegated to the bullpen. Byrnes said Cashner will be re-evaluated again after this year and there is a possibility he could be moved into the starting rotation down the road.

    • cubs1967

      what is Hoyer talking about??  Like i said yesterday Hoyer and Epstein are cocky east coast boys; telling us cubs fans this team is gonna be highly competitive??…….

      Of course, his Padres were a last place team so I’m not sure jed knows what a good team is………

      Cubs will be lucky to avoid last place.

      DAMN!!–i hate being treated like a fool…….telll me this team is gonna be highly competitive…….if we move them to AAA.

      104 yrs and counting……….there is NO grace period tommyboy, team theo (and you too GM Clueless Jed).

    • daverj

      Well … they could be incredibly competitive with Pirates and Astros for last place.

      I actually think the Astros will be worse than the Cubs in 2012.

  • DaCubs

    This team will resemble the Padres for the next couple of years not even close to the Red Sox.  I’m not sure when the Cubs will win 90 games but I’m pretty sure this team will lose 90 this year or very close.  Hope you like the Kool-Aid they are serving because unless they change direction 2014 is the first year they may come close to 500.   Incredibly they have no offense and Theo will continue to trade anyone he can get a ?prospect? back for.  Lightening in a bottle is what they are hoping for like he got with David Ortiz from Minnesota.  As a Red Sox and Cubs fan I can, like everyone else give a long list of players signed and traded for by Theo who were  incredibly expensive bust.  Time will tell how this works out and while Rickett$ has no intentions of lowering concession and ticket prices the drums will pound louder and louder in a year or two if they keep rebuilding from the ground up without visable results by 2014.

  • daverj

    It’s still too early to know whether the Marshall trade was good or bad.  We likely won’t know for a couple years as we see what happens with Wood and Torreyes.  We do know that it would have taken $16.5 million to sign Marshall to a 3 year extension … that is an awful lot to pay for even a top tier set-up guy.

    What concerns me is the news on Ian Stewart’s injury.  It sounds like he had it last year and it will nag him all of this year.  Did the Cubs appropriately check this out before the deal?  I liked the idea of obtaining an upside guy like Stewart, but a nagging wrist injury likely takes away any power upside he otherwise had.

    • paulcatanese

      That would be too bad on the Stewart situation. Wrist injuries never seem to go away, even with the avanced medicine of today. 162 games does not help.
      Dont know too much about Stewart, but from what I gathered so far, was he was (is) a good fielder and a left handed bat that has hit for power.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

    I take the extremely competitive comment as talking about the mindset and not about the idea that they are going to push the division this year. He said it the way he did to show confidence and pay lip service. It is not like Hoyer could step in front of the microphone and say we are going to suck this year and end up better for it. He would have been blasted strait out of a job.