Something I’ve wondered about for some time about the Chicago Cubs’ new front office is who does what. While it’s quite easy to say that Theo Epstein is the boss, and focuses on the big picture, while Jed Hoyer runs the organization on a day-to-day basis, it’s much harder to pinpoint just what each is doing as a matter of course. When the Cubs signed Paul Maholm, who handled the negotiations? When the Cubs pulled the trigger on the Carlos Zambrano/Chris Volstad swap, who gave the go-ahead? And who decided how much money the Cubs should eat? Who figures out which players the Cubs should target in the draft? Who decided that picking up Adrian Cardenas was worth possibly dropping Blake DeWitt?
Well, we don’t have answers to those specific questions, but GM Jed Hoyer recently gave a little more detail about how his and Theo’s relationship operates. As you probably expected, it’s frequently collaborative. But, as you might not have expected, it sounds a lot more like a partnership than a traditional boss/subordinate relationship.
Actually, it’s incorrect to say Hoyer alone made the decisions. The Cubs have a different dynamic with Epstein and Hoyer working in tandem. Epstein has been the more celebrated hire, drawing the most attention and autograph seekers. Hoyer was the top man in the Padres’ baseball operations hierarchy. Isn’t it tough being in Epstein’s shadow?
“Theo casts a long shadow, and he should,” Hoyer said. “He’s won two World Series and won the first one when he was 30. I’ve worked with Theo for a long time and I certainly wouldn’t come over here if I was worried about whether or not I’ll be in Theo’s shadow.
“To me, you do this because you like to build baseball teams and you want to be a part of something special,” he said. “I don’t do this for name recognition or power. It’s an incredible opportunity. [The 2004 season] was magical — this can be even better.”
At the Winter Meetings, Epstein and Hoyer would alternate days when they met with the media for daily briefings. How do they divide the work?
“So far, it’s been really common sense — relationships with teams, relationship with agents,” Hoyer said. “Over time, it’ll evolve. We had conversations about the delineation of things but it wasn’t something we spent a lot of time on because we know our relationship. We’ve agreed we’ll just be very open.
“If there’s something I feel very passionate about, I’ll work on that, [and] if there’s a team I have a better relationship with, I’ll do that, and if not, he’ll do it,” Hoyer said. “Because of our relationship, it makes it really easy. We’ve worked together for a long time and been in a lot of stressful positions and made a lot of hard decisions. It’s not hard for us to figure that out. It’ll evolve. Lord knows, there’s enough work for both of us.”
While there’s no doubt that Theo is ultimately in charge (with Tom Ricketts on top of him, with the power of the purse), it sounds like the duo really do operate as more of a two-headed monster. They each head up their own projects.
I heard a few weeks ago that, for example, the Rizzo/Cates/Cashner/Na deal was mostly handled by Jed, with a blessing from Theo. Indeed, some say Theo needed a little convincing from Jed.
We’ll probably rarely know for certain who is in charge of which decisions, as, knowing these guys, they’ll pretty much always share the blame/credit with the entire front office. And, for the really big things, there will undoubtedly be input from both Theo and Jed (not to mention others in the front office). But, I’d say it’s a fair bet that, for each decision, one of Theo and Jed are driving the bus, and it won’t always be both of them.
In other words, it’s pretty clear that Jed is not just a GM in title, but an assistant in practice. This is as much his team as it is Theo’s.