Today, the Chicago Cubs will introduce new General Manager Jed Hoyer, and new Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod. It has been easy to lose these two in the Theo Epstein shuffle, but it bears repeating: had the Cubs hired *only* Jed Hoyer as the new GM, I would have deemed the front office search a success. I might have even said the same if the Cubs brought Jason McLeod in as the GM. To get those two, together, to serve under Epstein is a coup beyond words.
The press conference starts at 3 p.m. CT, and, as I did with the Theo Epstein press conference, I’ll be updating this post with salient points, bullet-style, as the press conference goes on. Among the topics I expect (hope) to be addressed: the future of the Cubs’ managerial spot, the anticipated makeup of the Cubs’ roster in the near and long term, the role of Hoyer vis a vis Epstein, and McLeod vis a vis Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita, the planned utilization of resources, and the state of the Cubs’ farm system.
- The press conference is under way. Theo, Jed, and Jason. *Swoon.*
- Theo is introducing Jed and Jason. He regards them as a big part of building a competitive franchise from the ground up. Jed has been “thinking like a GM for a long time,” says Theo. Jed is “three steps ahead of everyone else,” and has “long been my right hand.”
- Jed will have “traditional” GM responsibilities, day-to-day management of the club, and will have input on baseball ops. As expected.
- Theo is extolling the virtues of Jason as a scouting/drafting genius. Heavy focus on the draft side of things – I’d say Jason is the Cubs’ new draft coordinator.
- Jed speaking now, thanking the Ricketts family. “It’s such a privilege to be here.”
- Jed acknowledges that the process of getting Theo/Jed/Jason here was a tough one, but it’s clear that the Ricketts are committed, as are the fans.
- “It was an absoute pleasure working for [Theo] for eight years,” and Jed is looking forward to creating a winner with him in Chicago.
- Jed thanks Randy Bush and the Cubs’ staff for its service during the interim situation. “I look forward to working with Randy for a long time.”
- He loved his two years in San Diego, and he’s not running away from the Padres – he’s running toward the Cubs. (In a nice human moment, Jed thanked his wife and acknowledged that the move was, perhaps, not the best time for them personally, but he appreciated her support. I dig that, Jed. I dig that.)
- Jed’s primary goal – as was also stated by Epstein – is to build a scouting and development machine. That’s a big reason the three of them work well together: they’re all on board with that philosophy.
- A nice thought: fans love watching a kid get drafted, play his way up through the system, and then reaching the Cubs. Gotta agree with Jed on that one.
- Jed turns things over to Jason, who also starts by thanking the Ricketts, and expresses his excitement about being with the Cubs.
- Jason expressing a similar sentiment as Jed (and Theo): it was bittersweet to leave the last place, because I was happy there.
- Surprise: Jason thinks scouting and development is key. These are great sound bytes, but there hasn’t been any “meat” yet. Prepared remarks at introductory press conferences are often like that, I suppose.
- Jason is “excited” to work with Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita.
- First question goes to Jed, and makes a lame reference to the Beatles (who does that…?). Jed remarks that it’s great to be back together. Come on, folks: substantive questions only, please.
- The Quade question. Theo jumps in to say we’re close to getting an answer on the managerial situation. He says the seven hour meeting last week was productive, calls Mike a good baseball guy, and says “we’re going to speak again shortly. We hope to have a resolution within a week.”
- Bruce Levine asks about each of the three men’s roles. Theo answers by saying that Jed is the right-hand man for the Major League club, and Jason is the right-hand man for scouting and player development. Paraphrase: all GMs report to someone, and Jed will report to me. It takes more than one person, and we’ll all work together, including Randy Bush, Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita.
- Jed is asked about the makeup of the Cubs’ roster. He doesn’t want to say too much before he’s gotten into the clubhouse and had more conversations with the folks who’ve been around. Defense needs improvement, as well as pitching. He’d also like to add more athletes (hmm).
- Jed is asked what it’s like when he disagrees with Theo, and how does that play out. He says that the two argue frequently, and present their points, and reach consensus. Debates will be frequent, but it’s important that the players not know who was on which side. Me: love the idea that they’ll argue with each other frequently – that’s how you take advantage of having so many smart people.
- Jason is asked about who will have final say on draft picks, and Jason dodges the question. He’ll work together with Tim Wilken, but he wants to see how things work before committing to how it will work. Me: Theo brought Jason in to run scouting and player development. Jason will have final say (other than Theo and Jed).
- Jason goes on to discuss player development, and how changes in that regard will be gradual. Getting the right players is a big part of “player development.”
- Great question to Theo: how attractive would the Cubs’ job have been if you couldn’t have brought Jed and Jason in? Epstein artfully dodges, but says it’s important to bring some people along that you know and trust.
- Jed is asked about Carlos Zambrano’s future, and Theo interjects: answering without having first spoken to Carlos would be premature. Theo has spoken to Zambrano’s agent, will speak to Carlos, and, as an organization, they’ll figure it out from there.
- Compensation for Theo is not yet decided, and at this point, either an extension for negotiations will be granted by MLB, or it will be turned over to the Commissioner.
- Jed is asked about Aramis Ramirez, and Theo jumps in again (“saving the softballs for Jed on his first day”). Theo says Aramis was a major contributor to the organization, “played hurt,” and “did things behind the scenes that helped the Cubs.” Theo won’t rule out re-signing Ramirez, but he says it’s likely that another team will offer him a contract that appeals to Ramirez, and the Cubs will be figuring something out. The “tea leaves” say “Ramirez will be moving on.”
- Jed is asked about how he was allowed to leave San Diego, and he says if Josh Byrnes wasn’t there in San Diego, the move wouldn’t have happened. It sounds like there was a great deal of collaboration between San Diego CEO Jeff Moorad and Tom Ricketts.
- Press conference over, and the Three-o are going into breakout sessions with the media.
- All in all, it was a fine introduction, light on the meat. It touched on virtually all of the topics I expected, and stayed about as shallow as I expected. Theo’s confirmation that Ramirez is almost certainly moving on is probably the most “newsy” item. I’m glad to see them continue to pound the scouting-and-development fist, and Jed seems genuinely excited to be a part of the Cubs’ organization. Theo jumping in on roster questions could suggest that, while Jed will be the “day-to-day GM,” Theo is going to remain heavily involved in all roster decisions. While I do think that’s probably true, I also think drawing that conclusion from today, alone, would be unwise – Theo really was probably trying to spare Jed from having to discuss specific players in his very first press conference. After all, Theo wouldn’t address specific players in his first press conference, either. It is prudent to gather as much information as possible first.
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