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.

From Carrie Muskat:

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.

  • hcs

    As long as things get done, I’m just glad to have this crew running things, regardless of who calls which shots.

  • Dave

    I find it interesting that Theo needed some convincing to do the Rizzo deal.
    It would seem giviging up a very good bullpen arm for a potential 30 homer every day player would seem a no brainer.
    Could this mean that Theo is not as high on Rizzo as maybe some others?

    • Dan

      Cashner has already proven he can pitch in the big leagues. His issue is about staying healthy. Cashner may find his way into the starting rotation also if all goes well with him. Rizzo is a prospect. So far, Rizzo’s big league numbers are bad. Rizzo is a great prospect but that’s all he is atm. He may never pan out, which may be a thorn in the Cubs plan.

  • Ryan

    Hoyer said when he came over that he wouldn’t have left San Diego had it not been for Epstein. It says a lot about their relationship that Hoyer would give up being the top man in San Diego to be part of a team in Chicago. It’s exciting to know what he have in the front office now compared to before.

    • Jason

      There is a lot more to this story . Involving the Diamondbacks and Padres Owner and former part owner of diamondbacks, And Byrnes salary after he was let go. .Hoyer really couldn’t remain GM in San Diego

  • BD

    A year ago I never thought this statement would ever be made: “The Chicago Cubs have two of the tops GM’s in baseball under one roof.”

    I think that is the cat’s pajamas.

  • Jason

    San Diego’s owner wanted Josh Byrnes to be the GM of the padres . Also Theo’s first choice for GM was Byrnes as well . With San Diego not letting Byrnes go , and Hoyer being left without a job title ,the Cubs took Hoyer on as their GM

  • FromFenwayPahk

    “Lord knows, there’s enough work for both of us.” Reminds me of Ernie Adams and Bill Belichick in Halberstam’s book. After discovering that they couldn’t find any competitional advantage in overall strategy, they resolved to just work harder than everyone else in applying their strategy.

  • die hard

    I know the front office still has that new car smell but soon they need to fade into the background and let their deeds speak for them. I dont recall such a turnover in an organization and so I understand that reassurance is important. But hopefully after season starts we wont hear from any of them until All-Star break at least.