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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  • Bryan

    “Jackson said this was his plan and his plan alone. Pitching coach Chris Bosio was not a part of the equation. “He had no clue,” Jackson related about his pitching coach. “It was just something I came out and did.”

    Now that’s great communication between a player and a coach…and the coaching staff finds that acceptable?

    • cubtex

      Agreed. Wouldn’t you tell your pitching coach what your plan is? I also find it odd that he hit 2 batters throwing nothing but fastballs. The sooner they can find another sucker to trade this guy to the better!

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        if they trade him to a “sucker” what does that say about the talent evaluators that acquired him in the first place?

        • cubtex

          They already admitted the mistake. Pay some of the 33 mil left on his deal and move on. Guy has almost a career 1.5 WHIP and never was a consistent winner. Cut your losses.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            So many pitchers would have made more sense. It is/was such a confusing move. On the one hand I applaud actually spending some money, since Crane Kenney likes to brag they are in top 5 of all profitable MLB teams, so NO reason to cry poor. But then they have no other big-ticket moves since. So if you are only going to have 1 move, how was it this guy?

            My guess is that some stat guy determined EJax would have a great 1H, based on NL or Wrigley career numbers, and the hope was they would immediately flip him for prospects. I can’t believe that they intended to keep him the whole contract.

    • paulcatanese

      I guess having a guy on the mound and throwing in the general direction of home plate,
      and it’s Jackson, one doesn’t ask too many questions,
      But when they don’t make it all the way home and fly very far from home plate, they should at least wonder:)

    • paulcatanese

      Jackson remarked that Bosio had no clue, that appears to be true. How could Bosio not notice
      there were no change’s of speed on the pitches.
      How could they not discuss a game plan? How many pitches to be thrown?
      Or is it just because of Spring Training games,
      Hey, you’re pitching tomorrow, see you after the game, have fun.
      No, I would not find that acceptable for the coaching staff, Renteria should hold the staff accountable and make sure things like that would not happen again.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Paul, Jackson appears to be in the doghouse for what he did yesterday. I will post a report.

        • paulcatanese

          That’s encouraging news. Especially with a guy that’s
          not producing over the last year.

  • GaryLeeT

    Hoyer likes the additions they have made over the last two years. The bottom line is the Cubs need more pitching.

    Huh? Then why was trading Cashner one of your first moves as GM?

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      Odds are that Rizzo, a lefty 1B with great defense, will be healthy for a long time. Cashner may or may not ever had a few great years in mlb…but I would take a cornerstone IF anytime over a potentially good pitcher. Rizzo still needs to improve though. If Rizzo never gets any better than he did last year, then my opinion may change.

      • GaryLeeT

        I see your point, since #2 starters grow on trees. Right now, I would much rather be trying Olt at 1st base, and watching Cashner have a lights out spring for the Cubs, like he is for the Pads.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          Cashner is already a #2, eh?
          And yes, much easier to trade for a pitcher when you know he is good, or sign a P as a FA when you know he is good, then gamble on the draft for a pitcher.

          Cashner is no Mark Prior, and Prior still only got the equivalent of 3 good years at best. Longevity and TOR pitching often don’t go hand in hand.

          But if you can get Rizzo or potentially guys like Bryant that man your corners for 6-8 years, it is a lot easier to add P as needed .

          • cubtex

            TOR starting pitching is the rarest commodity Jason. 1st base is the easiest position to fill.

    • Richard Hood

      Just to spin this in a different direction. The reason that Casner is not a Cub is very simple. There were questions about his durability and whether he could ever be more than a reliever. Sound familiar? Then you throw in the fact that Team Theo by their own admission did not do a lot of research into what the young kids had when they got here. And that we were definitely missing that close to ready 1st baseman that we really needed in our core and you have the perfect scenario for this trade.

      I am not saying that the Cubs won or lost this trade but I have to question whether if these guys had seen Cashner in the minors on a daily basis if they would have been so quick to make it.

      • paulcatanese

        That one is easy, and I agree, they came here and for the most part, players were eliminated, not because they lacked talent, but simply put they were not brought in by them.

        • Richard Hood

          I am not sure about just because they were not Team Theo guys as much as they did not have their eyes on them for long periods of time. Remember there was a lot of speculation that Baez and Lake were gone because they were not what these guy would have wanted.

          • paulcatanese

            I remember that quite well as I was one of them complaining about Baez, that was mostly his attitude.
            He is proving me wrong, and I’m pretty happy about that.
            Lake, well I still think he has a long way toward being a defensive outfielder, but they are taking the chance here, and that’s good.
            Lake still takes poor routes and
            does not think about throwing the ball before he gets it, his powerful arm has shown up more than once with accuracy
            problems.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Soooooooooooooooo sick of Shark. Homer Bailey comparisons? Homer is 27 and actually has won double-digit games twice in his career, with a better ERA the past two years, than Shark.

    Take $8m/yr and consider yourself lucky to constantly get paid on “potential” your entire mlb existence.

  • cubtex

    nice article on Bryant.

    Kris Bryant played w/Bryce Harper as a kid in Las Vegas and then took his own path to become next big thing for Cubs: http://bit.ly/1fRfWcb

  • cubtex

    Not everyone will be interested in the causes and cures of hamstring strains…but with Starlin Castro’s latest this is informative

    Treating Hamstring Strains http://kineticrev.me/11NU67l

    • paulcatanese

      Very informative article, thanks for putting it on here. Been a few of those around here, and it was interesting to follow the different types of re-hab.

      • cubtex

        Having a family of runners we have the foam rollers. The roll stick, plantar fasciatis foot roll, stretch bands, all types of core work equipment, extra large refrig/freezer in garage with always several bags of ice stored for ice baths, swimming pool with jacuzzi. Kids and myself are prepared for all our aches and pains :))))

        • paulcatanese

          The article was interesting with naming problems that most Doctors don’t relate with the hip
          and could be hamstring’s.
          Especially with my wife that had broken her hip and elbow. Exercise tips are great on the site. Had no idea the hamstring could be partially in the hip area.

        • paulcatanese

          The grandson that attended Oregon State, RB and KO return was plagued with hamstring problems all the way from Jr High thru College, every year. He also ran track. Hammies are a real bummer.

    • paulcatanese

      Once a again, have downloaded it and will use the site frequently.

  • cubtex

    Tyler Beede’s pitching line from yesterday.

    Beede through 7 innings … 1 run on six hits, 8 Ks, 0 BB, 91 pitches.

  • Richard Hood

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEIL!

    • calicub

      Hear Hear!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you.

      • paulcatanese

        Yep, echo that, Happy Birthday Neil.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Thanks Paul.

    • TheWrongGuy

      I agree!
      HAPPY BIRTHDAY Neil!
      What your 29 again right?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Exactly … thank you very much.

    • John_CC

      What? Holy cow our bdays are only 2 days apart! Happy birthday Piceses! Have it good.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Which way John? Happy early Birthday to you, or a Happy belated Birthday to you.

        Thanks man.

        • John_CC

          2 days earlier, 6th.
          Thanks man!

  • SuzyS

    Happy Birthday, Neil. God was smiling on Cubs fans the day you were brought onto this earth….Hope he smiles on us again!!!

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Suzy, you’re too kind. Thanks so much.