As it was when new President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein was introduced last week, the news and quotes didn’t stop rolling in when the press conference welcoming new General Manager Jed Hoyer and new Scouting/Development Chief Jason McLeod ended.
Among the other notable bits from past 16 hours or so…
- Neither Epstein nor Hoyer further showed his hand with respect to incumbent manager Mike Quade, resting on their statement from the press conference that they had a good (long) conversation with Quade last week, that they’ll speak again this week, and that they’ll have a resolution within a week. Given that Quade is under contract for 2012, it seems a strange way to talk about a guy unless he’s being let go.
- Relatedly, Hoyer called Ryne Sandberg’s managerial candidacy ‘‘a bridge we’ll cross at some point potentially.” He added, “At this point, we’re focused on the meeting we had with Mike on Thursday …. We’re not going to focus on [Sandberg] until we make a decision.’’ As for whether Sandberg could be invited back to the Cubs as a big-league coach, ‘‘That’s an issue I haven’t really spent a lot of time getting to the bottom of,’’ Hoyer said.
- Hoyer says the the offseason focus – or at least one of them – will be starting pitching. “I think it’s too early to say [who the team will look at in free agency],” Hoyer said. “But I do think it’s fair to say we have to spend some time rebuilding the pitching staff. I look at what happened last year from the outside with them losing two starters the first week of the season. It’s very difficult for any team to survive that, but the Cubs didn’t have the depth to do that. Even though we have confidence in some of the starters, we have a need to add more …. Injuries can never be an excuse for a bad season. You have to make sure that you have depth to avoid the inevitable and survive.”
- Hoyer isn’t expecting to ask Cubs’ fans to be patient, even though it would be reasonable to so expect. “It does take time [to turn things around],” he said. “I think we do have to turn around our farm system and get to the point where we’re churning out players every year. There is some patience with regard for that. At the same time, and I experience that in San Diego, even with a smaller payroll, every single year you want to do everything you can in the offseason to put a good major league product on the field at the major league level. In no year are we going to ask for patience.”
- As for big ticket free agents, Hoyer isn’t ready to say, unequivocally, yes or no. “No, I wouldn’t say [they’re ruled out],” he said. “But I do think we have to get together and figure out which free agents are the best bet going forward. Certainly some guys age very well, other guys don’t. A lot of it is profiling which guys have peak years left in the tank.”
- Hoyer doesn’t expect Carlos Marmol to lose his closer job, and went so far as to say the staff will work to “fix” Marmol’s slider and mechanical issues. Keep that trade value as high as possible, Jed.
- On Carlos Zambrano, Hoyer says, like Epstein, he wants to find out if the relationship is “irreparable.” He doesn’t want to make any decisions until he’s investigated further.
- Sources say Hoyer will be making around $1.2 million per year on his five-year contract. Together with the $3 million per year Epstein is getting, and the many hundreds of thousands guys like McLeod, Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita are probably getting, and you’ve got what’s quickly becoming one of the more expensive front offices in baseball.
- Bruce Levine says sources tell him the Cubs are looking to expand the front office, including with the addition of a Director of Professional Scouting. The sources say the Cubs interviewed Arizona scout Joe Bohringer for the position last week, but are facing a little competition from the Angels.
- “Jed’s sort of a parry for me,” Epstein said. “Baseball is just one riddle, a dilemma. There’s no right answer in baseball. The best organizations are wrong 45 percent of the time. We’re trying to be right more often than the 29 other organizations — but in reality we’re just trying to be less wrong. So we try to set up a culture where we’re constantly encouraging questions, encouraging dissent.” As I said yesterday, when you get a handful of really smart people in a room, arguing about a subject, the best answer will almost always emerge.
- “Jason McLeod is the rarest commodity in the industry,” Epstein said. “He’s an impact evaluator of baseball talent.” That article has a bit more on McLeod, including arguments he’s had with Epstein on players – the two fought about the value of Clay Buchholz, and McLeod won.
- Speaking of McLeod, he was interviewed by Tom Krasovic earlier this week, and offered some interesting quotes. Of the Cubs’ farm system, McLeod was less than generous: “From afar, it doesn’t look like they have a depth of talent, although they did spend a lot in the draft this year, and I know they’ve got some high-ceiling guys with some risk. It SOUNDS likes it’s a little more middle of the road system.” While I’m not sure I agree with the lack of depth comment (if the Cubs’ system has anything, it’s depth – what’s lacking is an abundance of high-impact talent), what else is McLeod supposed to say? He can’t say the system sucks, and he can’t say it’s super awesome. It was always going to be middle of the road.
- McLeod was, like Hoyer and Epstein, intrigued by the Cubs’ international and draft spending last year, but McLeod put it most interestingly: “[You] kind of feel like ‘Wow, they’re joining 10 other clubs that are really being aggressive in the draft and spending money and spending internationally.'” Stated another way, “you feel like, ‘Wow, this top three market team is finally spending like they’re in the top ten markets. It’s a start, I guess.'”
- Hoyer said Randy Bush will stay on as an Assistant GM.
- Hoyer received a congratulatory text from Jim Hendry, with whom Hoyer looks forward to meeting.
- Hoyer reaffirmed something that was easy to pick up from Epstein’s media tour last week: “We don’t like leaks of information,” Hoyer said. I guess that makes my job a little harder…