Jed Hoyer Takes to the Airwaves and Other Cubs Spring Training News

Jed Hoyer discussed a variety of topics and players such as Jeff Samardzija, Javier Baez, Josh Vitters and Mike Olt as well as Tom Ricketts and ‘the reset button’ during interviews on MLB Network Radio and 87.7 The Game. Hoyer also reiterated during both interviews that the Cubs believe in Starlin Castro and he is the Cubs’ shortstop.

Jed Hoyer on MLB Network Radio

Jed Hoyer spoke with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern during MLB Network Radio’s stop at Cubs Camp earlier this week.

The front office, the coaching staff and the players are extremely happy with the Cubs new facility. Spring Training is going well according to Jed Hoyer. Rick Renteria has provided a good atmosphere for the players and so far the spring has been really productive.

Jed Hoyer is excited to watch innings six through nine of a Cactus League game because of the young players that are on the field. Hoyer pointed to similarities with the Rays when they saw the talent that was coming up through Tampa’s system. Hoyer was quick to point out, they need to move innings six through nine to innings one through five “and that is the goal.”

Teams talk about early in spring which teams look good late in games because that is usually what translates as to who is going to look good in the big leagues in a couple of years according to Hoyer.

On Jeff Samardzija

Jed Hoyer reiterated the Cubs would like to sign Jeff Samardzija to a long term contract. The team feels good about their “position player core” but they know the system still lacks pitching. Hoyer likes the additions they have made over the last two years. The bottom line is the Cubs need more pitching.

The Cubs have tried to re-sign Samardzija. The team needs more Jeff Samardzijas, according to Hoyer, not less.

The Homer Bailey signing, and every signing, provides a “data point.” The front office is hoping to get to a point in the negotiations with Samardzija that both sides feel they gave a little to get the deal done.

On Starlin Castro and Javier Baez

Hoyer downplayed Castro’s injury and said it is not serious at all. At the time, Hoyer was expecting Starlin Castro to miss a total of 10-12 days. Castro is a very talented player, one that had a lot of success in his first two seasons, then a solid third year and a not-so-good fourth year. Hoyer said the focus issues Castro had are usually worked out in the minors and not in the majors or on National TV.

“There is no competition,” Hoyer said. “Castro is our shortstop. You can never have too many shortstops. You can never have too many centerfielders. Those are things that work themselves out in time and not something, I think, you have to work on right away.”

“Castro is our Major League shortstop. Baez will be our Triple-A shortstop,” Hoyer said. “We are in no hurry to move either guy because we realize those things work themselves out.”

Jed Hoyer on The Game

Jed Hoyer joined David Kaplan and David Haugh for his weekly spot on 87.7 The Game on Thursday morning. Hoyer talked Samardzija, Castro, the prospects and Tom Ricketts with Kap and Haugh.

On how Tom Ricketts is not involved in baseball decisions

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer make the baseball decisions and Tom Ricketts does not try to influence those decisions. Hoyer explained that Ricketts reads the daily minor league reports and asks questions about players in the system that are not on the radar yet. Hoyer said, “He’s so locked in with the minor leagues.”

“He follows everything so carefully,” Hoyer said. “But never once since we’ve been here has he asked us to make a move or even recommended one that we make. I think that he feels like that he hired us to run the baseball side and he lets us run it. And that’s all you can ask for. You talk to other GMs in baseball, or in other sports, and they have owners that force them to make moves.” Hoyer does not think an owner can properly judge a general manager’s performance if the owner is forcing the GM to make moves.

Tom Ricketts wants to win as much as anyone, but he wants to “build up the base the right way” so the Cubs can be a very successful organization for a long time.

On Mike Olt

Jed Hoyer pointed out he has looked very good this spring. Mike Olt is a plus-defender at third base with power. Olt feels good right now and thinks last year’s health problems are behind him. Hoyer talked about, players like Olt, just needing to hit the reset button on their career sometimes to get back on track. Olt is not the only player in the organization that needed to hit the reset button this off-season according to Hoyer.

On Javier Baez

The Cubs feel that Javier Baez needs more time in the minors and he will start the season at Triple-A Iowa. Hoyer and the Cubs think Baez will be a star player and they get “just as excited as everyone” when they see what he can do on a baseball field.

“He does need to work on his plate discipline. He does need to work on his defense,” Hoyer said. “Long term, the best thing for Javy is to go to Triple-A to keep learning.”

The Cubs want to make sure he is ready and not rush him to the majors. Hoyer thinks once Baez is up in the big leagues he will be up for good. But they want to make sure he is ready and if they don’t smooth out his rough edges now, there might not be time to do so down the road.

On Josh Vitters and what his position is moving forward with the Cubs

“We are going to put him in left field,” Hoyer said. “He can hit. I think if you look at what he’s done, he’s been banged up a little bit, but you look at what he’s done at Triple-A. He’s proven he can hit at Triple-A. He’s got a really quick bat. He’s got power. Of all the guys in camp, I think our meeting with him before the season was the most impressive just in how far he has come as a person. We feel good about where he is. He can play some first. He will play some left.”

The Cubs feel like they have enough depth at third base in the organization. So they would like to put Josh Vitters in left field and let him focus on his bat.

On the Cubs improved system and if the improvement has been made faster than he thought it would be after they first took over the team

Hoyer admitted, “It has probably been more difficult to improve it than we would have thought. Our goal was to certainly end up with a top farm system.” The focus wherever he or Theo Epstein has been on building up the minor league system and the talent base.

The spending limits placed on the draft and on international signings by the new CBA have made the team focus on adding talent through trades. Hoyer is excited about the farm system.

On Jeff Samardzija and his future with the team

The Cubs focus “right now” has been to work out a deal with Jeff Samardzija. “The trade talk and the trade discussions have certainly been way on the backburner,” Hoyer said. The Cubs would like to keep him. Hoyer explained that it has been hard coming up with the right value for Samardzija.

Chris Bosio and Samardzija have a great relationship. The Cubs feel Samardzija’s best days are ahead of him. And Hoyer thinks Bosio will continue to get the best out of Samardzija.

The Cubs remain hopeful they will be able to work out a deal with Samardzija so he can stay with the team. That is the team’s goal.

Starlin Castro

Starlin Castro met with the media Friday morning. Castro said his hamstring is feeling better and he is looking to return to baseball activities next week. Castro has been rehabbing in the hydrotherapy pool at the Cubs facility and the new equipment is speeding up his rehab. Castro said Friday he does not feel any tightness in the hamstring.

Castro plans on playing all 162 games this season. And while Rick Renteria reportedly liked hearing Castro was planning on playing  every game this year, the Cubs’ skipper pointed out if he thinks Castro needs a breather he will give his shortstop a day off.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Castro has been “enjoying his work with new hitting coach Bill Mueller” and felt “locked in at the plate” before the injury.

The Infield

Rick Renteria plans on rotating his infielders as he gets to know his players according to a report from Carrie Muskat. Darwin Barney liked being back at shortstop and he thinks he has value as a shortstop. Barney will be part of the rotation moving forward. As ESPN Chicago pointed out, Renteria already named Barney his starting second baseman for the upcoming season. But things can change during Spring Training.

Emilio Bonifacio, Logan Watkins, Luis Valbuena, Chris Valaika and Ryan Roberts have already seen time at multiple positions in the infield this spring. Javier Baez is supposed to be exposed to second and third base in the near future.

News and Notes

According to a report from Jon Heyman, the Legend of Kris Bryant is growing and one NL executive told Heyman that Bryant has 50-homer power.

Chris Bosio did not know about Edwin Jackson’s plan to not throw anything but fastballs on Friday.

Josh Vitters appears to be on his way to Iowa to start the 2014 season. Vitters told the Tribune, he is set on living up to his potential.

During the interview on MLB Network Radio, Jed Hoyer pointed out the Cubs would really like to get away from the deadline selloff.

Jose Castro, the Cubs Quality Assurance Coach, will be responsible for telling Rick Renteria when he should ask for a play to be reviewed … and will monitor the video replay system during games.

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