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Chicago Cubs’ General Manager Jed Hoyer hopped onto Clubhouse Confidential on the MLB Network this evening for short phone interview, during which he touched on a few interesting subjects.

Jed spoke first, of course, about the Theo Epstein compensation issue, and once again conveyed that everyone’s glad to move on. While it’s unfortunate to lose “a good reliever,” getting Theo Epstein to lead the baseball department is a big deal.

The biggest challenge for Jed and Theo coming into a new situation in Chicago was, according to Jed, implementing the way you want to do things when there was already a system in place. It’s nice to have people who’ve been around for a while helping, but change is always hard.

Jed was asked about the Cubs’ offseason, including the trade for Anthony Rizzo (“we liked Cashner a ton, but felt like his upside was as a dominant reliever” so trading him for a big-time bat like Rizzo made sense), and the lack of big free agent moves. Jed explained, as we’ve heard before, that it wasn’t the right time for the Cubs to go “big game hunting,” and throw around a ton of money at free agents. The goal for now is to build up young talent first, and then, when the core is in place, the Cubs can add free agents to put them over the top.

Dale Sveum and his role vis a vis the front office was discussed at length, and Jed offered a great analogy when asked about Dale’s role in personnel decisions, as well as the front office’s role in game management decisions. Jed explained that it (paraphrasing) “makes no sense to have front office buy the groceries but have no input on how they’re used, just as it makes no sense to have a manager using the groceries, but having no input on what groceries we buy.” Jed believes that only a handful of managers act as an extension of the front office in terms of how to manage, but thinks Dale is special in that way. That’s why Dale also has input on personnel decisions.

The interview concluded with a discussion of the 2012 Cubs’ roster, and how it might change throughout the season. Jed, at first, started to say he hopes the guys that are here in Spring Training will be … and then he stopped, abruptly, pivoted, and said that the Cubs don’t quite have that foundation for sustained success yet. He was quick to say that the Cubs aren’t conceding the season, and anything could happen, but it was pretty clear that he was all but saying it’s likely the Cubs will make a few trades this year – ones designed to build toward the future.

  • MickeyK

    I think the grocery analogy can be originally credited to Bill Parcells.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I hadn’t heard it before – it’s great.

      • Bren

        Wow, really? Thats pretty famous, back from his Patriot days.

  • Michael

    Rizzo is the key for the Cubs’ future. If we see more of the Rizzo the Padres saw, this team is in trouble. Theo has said he doesn’t believe in 4A hitters, but there are guys who can’t flip the switch in the majors. If Rizzo is one, it’s really gonna set them back. Not signing Fielder could come back to bite them.

    • DocWimsey

      That’s not what a 4A hitter is.  For one thing, 4A hitters are 5+ years older than Rizzo is.  For another, a 4A hitter is a special case of WAR.  That is, he’s someone who actually would be an average MLB hitter, but who can play only first or DH.   An average hitter who plays SS or CF is a keeper.  An average hitter who plays first is a lodestone.

      One thing that Theo does know is error bars and chance.  First, Rizzo’s numbers mean nothing given the small sample size: a good hitter will have a stretch like that with some frequency.  Second, Rizzo’s single rate given his contact rate was appallingly low.  Now, slugging rates given contact tend to reflect how often a guy is whacking a ball and they don’t fluctuate hugely.  Singles rates to a much greater extent reflect “playable” balls (grounders, flairs, low liners: i.e., the kinds of things that are singles) and have much, much greater variance.

      And the only thing that is going to get bitten by not signing Fielder is more food in the visiting clubhouse when the Tigers come by for interleague play.  :-)

      • bluekoolaidaholic

        “And the only thing that is going to get bitten by not signing Fielder is more food in the visiting clubhouse when the Tigers come by for interleague play. :-)

        Doc, sometimes you just crack me up, thanks.

      • Mike Foster

        Great post Doc, LOL.

      • NL_Cubs

        Ah, the voice of logic. Rizzo is not a key to the future but is a piece that has the potential to play a big role. Nice post Doc.

        • Michael

          Rizzo is the key offensively. We don’t have a power hitter on this team. Rizzo is being groomed to be the run producer in the middle of the order. We passed on Albert and Prince for this guy.

    • Ron Swanson

      While all those things may technically be true statements, Michael, he’s a 22 year old kid. It’s not time to start worrying about that yet like one would with say a 29 year old first baseman like LaHair.

    • DannyBallgame

      Rizzo has not even had half of a season in pro ball. Let’s give him 200 AB’s and see where he goes

  • docmatters

    How many times did JEd say “um” or “uh”?

  • Swaz46

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could listen to Jed and Theo talk baseball for hours. *Swoon*

    • Katie

      Me too! I get the vapors.

      • farmerjon

        Not tryin to be a smartass, but what are the vapors?

  • Nebraska Cubs

    While I do agree that Rizzo is the Cubs future, what about LaHair? What if LeHair has a great season, what happens to him? The Cubs have some young good talent coming up from the minors in the outfield, so what would they do with LeHair when it is time for Rizzo to step into the majors? Could we see, in the next couple years, a line up like this: 1B-Rizzo, 2B-Barney, SS-Castro, 3B-Baez, OF-Jackson, LeHair, and Szczur? Also, is Barney the 2B of the future?

    In conclusion, all I have to say is that this organization has a lot of questions. Come on THEO!!

    • Desert Rat

      Nebraska, I’ve heard that LaHair’s outfield defense is questionable, but if his batting statistics are as good as we’re all hoping, then what a great dilemna that would be for the Cubs.

      • BetterNews

        LaHair is not a future left fielder for the Cubs! He is 6’5″ and weighs 250 lbs.

      • Nebraska Cubs

        After writing this, I was thinking anybody could be better than Soriano lol!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If both LaHair and Rizzo hit well enough in the majors to play regularly, LaHair will move to left.  While the Cubs do have some pretty good outfield prospects on the way (Jackson, Szczur, Ha), they don’t have any power-hitting corner outfielders in the system.  If LaHair can keep hitting and playing adequate defense, he’ll could stay in left field for a number of seasons.

    • Kyle

      LaHair is a free agent at the end of the season. If he has a great year, he’ll be traded for whatever useful prospects he can command. If he doesn’t, he’ll be wished well in free agency. Either way, he’s got no long-term future with the Cubs.

      • BetterNews

        Ditto that.

  • cubsin

    If LaHair has a long-term future as a Cub, it will be as a DH (coming soon to the NL, IMHO) and PH. The FO values defense too highly to use LaHair as an everyday LF.

    • DocWimsey

      How did the idea that Theo and Hoyer put a premium on fielding come into existence? That was not how they ran the Sox at all. Theo & Hoyer always stressed that fielding (unlike many batting tools) could be improved with work and coaching.

      • JasonB

        I agree with what you’re saying conceptually but the 2010 Sawx were built around pitching and defense. Hence the reason they were willing to sign Beltre even after a down offensive year in 2009. The Pads traded for Maybin not because they were expecting a breakout with the bat, but because of his CF defense. They also added Bartlett, who is a plus defender at SS. So it’s not as of they haven’t done it before, especially as greater advancements are made in evaluating the effectiveness of defense. There is some really cool stuff that the cutting edge FOs are working on with respect to defensive evaluation too, and those at the forefront may begin to become even more dependent on defense if they realize it’s even more undervalued. Then again, the opposite could happen as well if they realize it’s actually overrated.

        In general though, for the same cost, they will take the player that adds the most value to the team, whether that come from superior offense or defense.

        • BetterNews

          What’s your bottom line?

          • Cubbie Blues

            Edit: never mind not contributing.

            • BetterNews

              Like to hear it. Or you just don’t what to say?

          • JasonB

            If LaHair’s hitting is good enough, it doesn’t matter how bad the glove is. Theo has lived with Manny in LF so he’s clearly not afraid of horribly inept defense if the bat can overcome it.

            Please note I am NOT comparing LaHair to Manny – just using a blatantly obvious example. It’s all about total value.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      sure hope you were joking the dh better never come to the national league. we dont need a cheap gimmick to keep old guys around.

  • brittney

    I think the sox got too high of a prospect! It was clear they were willing to part with him from the start! They should have been given the amount (at a max) of his last year salary on his contract. I mean I am glad this whole situation is 85% over but still they got something when they deserved nothing seeing as how it was a promotion and they had their man waiting! I look at it like a house that you rent and want out of the lease early. Pay the rent until they can get renters in. Seeing as the spot wasn’t ever vacant we shouldn’t of given the red sox a d@mn thing! Larry the leech was being a pig headed stubborn greedy ass!

  • Rush

    you guys need to remember LaHair is already 29 so his future is right now. but i would like to see baez up as soon as possible and Jackson as well.

    • BetterNews

      Yes, actually he will hit the big “30” this year. He is NOT in the Cubs future.

  • OHBearCub

    How does anybody on here no if LaHair isn’t in the Cubs future or not. If he hits the crap out of the ball he will play in left field when Rizzo comes up. LaHair is a lot more athletic than Adam Dunn and isn’t anyworse than Soriano is on defense. I remember 2 years ago everyone was all about getting Adam Dunn because he would just kill it in Wrigley. Just because LaHair is a little older doesn’t mean anything. There are guys like Abreu in there late 30’s that can still hit. Will LaHair be playing left field in his late 30’s …. No…. That doesn’t mean he can’t have some real good years hitting for a decent average, providing home runs and rbi’s for this Cubs team. Guys who can hit find places to play. LaHair was blocked everywhere he ever played. He was blocked when he came to the Cubs by Derek Lee and last year by Pena. The previous management wasn’t smart enough to bring him up. They let him hit 38 HR’s in Iowa. His bat would have made a big difference in Chicago last year. It’s not his fault that he worked for some shitty management. 29 years old isn’t that old and he has been seriously over looked IMO. I like him for one. He is not a bitcher, he did his job at AAA what more could you ask of him. He was MVP in AAA for his league. What more could you ask of him. Theo Epstein knew right away that he was a good ball player and didn’t go sign Pujols or Fielder. He didn’t even bring back Pena. He knew had an in house solution so why go anywhere else. LaHair has hit the cover off the ball for 3 straight years and has always had crazy power. What if Lahair hits 38 HR’s in the big leagues. Nobody is going to want him going anywhere. The dude is going to stick. Like it or not. Most people on here don’t like the guy because he is 29. I hope when they turn 29 everyone says they have no future. Seems like a bunch of no it alls.

    • Cheryl

      We don’t know anything about Rizzo being able to hack it at first base. He gets favorable reports but that doesn’t mean a thing until he produces. I agree with you that no one wants to give LaHair credit. When did 29 become a cutoff point? I hope he does really well. Right now he would seem to be the transition to Vogelbach. If LaHair does well, Rizzo may be the one traded, not LaHair.

      • BetterNews

        Cheryl-Rizzo traded?(LOL)

      • JasonB

        Sorry, but if we don’t feel that we can rely on Rizzo at this point, we shouldnt even be thinking about a bridge to Vogelbach, who has proven absolutely nothing professionally.

      • David

        Cheryl,

        No offense, but you’re out of your mind. Rizzo has been traded for twice by our GM and scouting director. And was drafted by our front office, as well.

        He’s the guy at 1B. LaHair isn’t going to change that no matter what he does.

        • BetterNews

          Don’t offend a female on this site! Next thing you know they might have to make a pot pie for somebody! That’s a HUGE task.

          • Ogyu

            What the hell kind of remark is that?

            You know, it’s one thing for you to come here and make stupefyingly imbecilic remarks about baseball, but now you’re becoming downright obnoxious, you little pissant.

            • BetterNews

              My reply was toward Katie. It was a “funny” as I do like/love her.

          • Cubbie Blues

            OK, so I said don’t contribute but this has to be brought out in the open. BetterNews just put down Cheryl, I assume Katie, women in general and the site!!! Someone else went to a lot of trouble to wright his thoughts down and what does he say? He says, “What’s your bottom line?”. He is not only trolling and patronising everyone on this site but also bring down the level of contributing comments on Bleachernation. This is getting so assinine. There is too much effort and attention to what one guy (kid, middle age live at home with mom, old cranky dad, what have you) that reading the comments is becoming useless.

            He has proven after not only repeated attempts by numerous contributors to be incorrigible but also by pleads of Brett himself. I say we start a petition to have BetterNews get banned. I for one give a

            +1

            • JasonB

              +2

              • Cubbie Blues

                just bringing the +’s back to the top

                • Cubbie Blues

                  Back on top

                  • BetterNews

                    Your car bites! Unfortunatley the big one!

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                +3 +4 +5 +6 (to infinity)

            • Cubbie Blues

              for fairness you can give him rate for him to stay with a

              -1 (I still give him a +1)

              • BetterNews

                That’s it?

                • Cubbie Blues

                  Yes, that is it. I try to be civil.

                  • BetterNews

                    I’m a gonner! I’ll try harder next time! I’ll try to improve my math skills, I’ll try to improve my english. I’ll try to improve my psycolology. I’ll try to be civil. Sorry.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      You try for a couple of day or maybe even a week. I felt sorry for you at one point when you got called out and tried to help but after about a week you were back at the same thing again. You have been given multiple chances, even being called out in an actual post (not even a comment but an actual post) that you now just need to go.

                      You have proven incorrigible.

                      1. beyond correction, reform, or alteration
                  • BetterNews

                    You’re funny!

                  • BetterNews

                    I’ll give you a hundred bucks for the piece of crap you’re driving!

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Just so you know I don’t have that” piece of crap” with 500 HP at the rear wheels any more because i had a baby and as a responsible dad I sold it and got a more family vehicle. I will get another comparable car in the next couple of years however.

                  • BetterNews

                    Enough said!

            • Kaya

              I’ve been reading Brett’s site obsessively for over a year now (well done, Brett – love your work). I’ve never commented and probably never will again. I used to read every comment on the articles and loved the discussions. Then Better News began commenting. He has single-handedly degraded the quality of the commenting section to the point that I stopped reading it until today’s bullets when Brett mentioned commenting etiquette. I immediately looked back to see if Better News had finally gotten banned. His posts here were not his first insulting comments towards women but he’s also an equal opportunity jackass and insults guys too. I assume he thinks he’s witty or humorous or he’s just trolling. Either way, thank you, Cubbie Blues, for having the courage to address it.

              • JulioZuleta

                Yeah, there’s no place for him. With the growth of the site, there are bound to be a few more idiots, but there’s no excuse for it.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Thank you. And, I should add: if that particular commenter is the sole reason you don’t participate in the comments, you may want to reconsider, starting today.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  And I’d like to add that anyone who continually reads and has something intelligent and meaningful (or just witty and/or short and informative) you should comment. The more rational comments we have the better the site becomes. The comments will be better and now is the time to join. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged.

              • Cubbie Blues

                There are lots of good comments and discussions over in the forums as well. I really wanted to ignore him but he went over the line. Thank you Brett for bring down the hammer.

                • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                  Yup BleacherNation is a better place today.

                • Joe

                  Yay! I don’t post much, but that dude made me sad.

      • BetterNews

        Cheryl-Have I ever put you down?

        • Cubbie Blues

          You did when you commented on David’s comment when he was disagreeing with her. You said, “Don’t offend a female on this site! Next thing you know they might have to make a pot pie for somebody! That’s a HUGE task.” That in itself is degrading her and women in general as if women can’t comment on baseball i.e. sports because they just don’t have a clue. Basically it sounded like you thought they belonged in the kitchen.

          • BetterNews

            Nah-That was something between me and Katie. That was way in the past. We bitched about the comments and I considered it over.

            • Katie

              BetterNews, as much as I would love for you to get banned, you are right that you are referencing an old joke that i made about women making pot pies instead of posting on sports websites. It started when you acted like an idiot and basically called me out because I couldn’t give you Colvins batting average last year. I merely pointed out that knowing a player BA doesn’t make you a “true” fan and it went downhill from there. I just wanted to set the record straight. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not defending you, but when you finally get banned I want it to be on your own, not from anything that concerns me.

              Cubbie Blues, thank you for stepping up and calling this to everyone’s attention. He was wrong the first time he did it awhile ago but I believe this time he’s referencing an old (albeit lame) joke.

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Doesn’t matter his inability to know boundaries and act responsible and accept his mistakes were his downfall. His continued antics and trolling tendencies cashed this check.

                • Katie

                  I know, I missed all the fireworks last night because I was sleeping so I wanted to set the record straight.

                  Ding dong the troll is dead!

    • BetterNews

      OHBearcub-Nobody is saying that LaHair hasn’t paid his dues or might not hit big home run numbers. The problem is he will NOT play left field and there will be no room at first!

  • czechxican

    Couldn’t we realistically see LaHair as a stop gap 3rd baseman for a few yrs instead of LF? If his bat has the numbers, would be better to have Castro-Baez solve the remaining IF positions out themselves. Wrigley Field OF should really be left to better defenders than what LaHair would have to learn.

    • BetterNews

      No! Can’t play third. Again, his body is fit for first. As far as I know, my daughter has a better arm throwing a ball!(compared to LaHair)

      • Andrew

        My god everything you have said on this thread is completely baseless. Please do everyone a favor and shut up.

        • BetterNews

          Explain yourself most omnivalent one!

          • Cubbie Blues

            Please!!! If everyone would just ignore the trolls they lose their power. It is past the entertaining point and into the point where reading anything in the comments where you show up makes me just reading the posts and forums. Bring on the Ban Hammer!!!! It is Tidrowesk.

            • Brian

              This dude is playing all of you like a fiddle, He is posting crap to get a response and you do. MG had a very long dialog with him the night before also. It gets very tiresome trying to wade through all the BS. Take your own advise and not respond.
              This is only going to force Brett to become a moderator and find a way to remove him from the site, which would be very good for all of us who want to read the good stuff posted by most.

              • Deer

                Yep, some of you are too sensitive and encouraged his antics. I enjoyed the comedy personally, but understand’s Brett’s dilemma.

    • David

      So…. you think the outfield would be tough for him…so you want to move him to 3rd base?

      WTF?

    • czechxican

      Ha ha. 6 responses, i win. that was fun.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    lehair can play left as good as sori if not better at a fraction of the cost….if he’s hitting a ton why not move him to left an have two real good def. o.f. with him……lh power has been what cubs are lacking for a long time.also if he’s a free agent we should give him at least a one yr extention now….why? because if we decide to deal him in july he’d be more valuable…fft

    • BetterNews

      Oh no! You think we got problemls in left with Soriano, you put LaHair there(good ryme) are major problems.

  • OHBearCub

    All these young players who have zero big league experience. Until they prove it they are just someone to talk about. Patterson, Pie and Murton all were supposed to be great. All the talk means nothing. Those 3 and countless others haven’t amounted to anything. So I don’t consider anyone as “the replacement for anyone”. One of 100 different injuries could anyone of these prospects career. Or they end up flaming out cause there ceiling isn’t what people think. Too many people on here counting their chickens before they’ve hatched.

  • OHBearCub

    What if Jackson and Rizzo suck when they get called up. Rizzosucked when he got called up last year. He wasn’t better than Lahair and they were in the same league.

    • BetterNews

      Let the season begin!!!!!!!!!!

  • Steve

    ( uncomfortable silence) ……………… Hey, I can’t wait to see Maples, Baez and Volgelbach develop…I have a feeling out of these 3, we will have at least 1 top notch perfomer.

  • Dave

    Hoyer said they would not go big game hunting until they have a ton of good young players.
    This would lead me believe its going to be at least three to four years until we bid seriousley on any big time free agents.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Jed Hoyer looks like Daniel Tosh and USC football coach Lane Kiffin had a kid.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. Yes.

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