Jed Hoyer joined Jeff Joyce and Jim Bowden Tuesday afternoon during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio). The Cubs’ GM discussed a variety of topics including the upcoming trade deadline, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler and Josh Vitters. Jim Bowden asked Jed Hoyer at the top of the interview with the way Anthony Rizzo has played, the selection of Albert Almora and the signing of Jorge Soler, if he is pleased with the way his first year as the Cubs’ general manager has gone so far. Hoyer said it is hard to be pleased with the way the year has gone considering how the big league team has played.
Hoyer admitted that the organization is in talent acquisition mode. The Cubs are looking to acquire as much young talent as possible. Hoyer feels they have acquired some good young talent to this point and they are somewhat happy in that aspect. Hoyer then qualified his previous statement by restating they are not happy with the way the big league team is playing.
The trade front has changed a lot over the last month. Hoyer explained that the extra wild card teams have added a new dynamic. The Cubs have talked to every team and several teams quite a lot. The front office is doing all of the work they can to be prepared. Hoyer described this trade deadline a “new frontier” due to the new system. Hoyer does not think anyone knows how it will play out this month but he does feel it will be a very active month throughout the league. Hoyer is not sure if players that have another year of control past this season will be more sought after than the players on the final year of their current deal.
Hoyer pointed out teams that might not have made deals in the past will be more aggressive this season. There is now a huge advantage for teams to win their division. Before this year just getting in was the goal and first place teams had a fallback. Now a one-game playoff is a big negative. Teams do not want to put themselves at a disadvantage if they can avoid doing so.
Jim Bowden asked how big of a trade deadline this one for the Cubs is. Hoyer said that every trade deadline is important and this one is very important because they are in the process of gathering as much talent as possible. Hoyer explained that a team only has certain times to acquire talent during the season and an organization needs to take advantage of the opportunity every time they can. Last year was the first time that Hoyer had been on the sellers end and a team can never feel good when they have to sell off talent. The goal is to be on the other side and to always be a buyer in this business. Hoyer explained later in the interview that the Cubs have to be creative during this time, do all of their homework and even think of possible three-team deals. If there is a team they are not prepared for if or when they call then they have not done their homework. If is important to focus on every team, just not one or two.
The new regime is still learning the organization. Hoyer indicated that he is reading as many reports, watching as much video and talking to as many of the coaches throughout the system as he can in order to learn about the players in the system. He feels it takes a full season to learn a system from top to bottom.
Jed Hoyer is happy with the way Anthony Rizzo has performed this year. Rizzo took to their instruction and worked very hard to shorten his swing. Hoyer explained that while the numbers he put up this year with Iowa were similar to the ones he put up last year, he actually performed better because the difference in the parks (Rizzo played in the Northern Division of the Pacific League in the PCL last year, played in the Northern Division of the American League in the PCL this season). Now the key will be his ability to make adjustments.
The Cubs are pleased with the way Jeff Samardzija has pitched this year. There are a lot of great signs for the future according to Hoyer. The Cubs feel that by him getting through the hiccup in June it will help him with his development.
As for Josh Vitters, the Cubs are also happy with the way he has played this year but Hoyer is not sure if he will receive a call-up this season. Hoyer said that Vitters’ defense has come a long way this season and he’s quietly had a good season at the plate. Hoyer feels that Vitters was overshadowed by Anthony Rizzo. Vitters has put up good numbers, good power numbers and Hoyer pointed out that right-handed corner power is hard to find. Vitters still has development to do and Hoyer stressed how pleased the Cubs are with the season he’s had at the Triple-A level.
Jed Hoyer said Brett Jackson will be a big part of the Cubs’ future. Hoyer thinks Jackson would be the first person to admit that he has not had a hot streak this season. Jackson has a high OPS and has done a lot of good things in terms of extra base hits. As for the strikeouts, Hoyer admitted his strikeouts are a little high but thinks strikeouts will always be a part of Jackson’s game. Hoyer acknowledged Jackson needs to cut down on his strikeouts a little bit but the strikeouts have to be looked at in context. If Jackson is still doing everything else well [getting on base and hitting for power] then he can be a valuable player.
It is really hard to find the type power in today’s game that Jorge Soler brings to the table. The game has gone backward from a power standpoint over the past four to five years and the Cubs feel that his power is worth the investment. The Cubs did their homework on Soler and Hoyer complimented his people for keeping him in games during the process. It helped the Cubs make the decision because he was facing competition instead of performing in showcases.
Jed Hoyer said they are going to take it slow with Jorge Soler. He is going to spend the next month or so in “spring training” in Mesa. Hoyer explained the time will be used to get him ready to play, the same as regular spring training. Soler might get in games by the end of the minor league season.
The Cubs are sending two players to the All-Star game in Kansas City next week. Hoyer said that Starlin Castro deserved to be voted in. Hoyer is very happy for Bryan LaHair. Hoyer said LaHair has worked very hard to get to where he is and no matter what happens no one can take away the fact he made a Major League All-Star team.
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