Jed Hoyer Speaks: Bourn, Spring Training Moves, Barney, Pitching

Jed HoyerChicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on the radio with Jim Bowden today and shared a couple thoughts, which are paraphrased below:

  • A big focus of the offseason was getting pitching depth, because we felt like we didn’t have it last season, and it really showed later in the year. Locking down Scott Baker and Scott Feldman early was big.
  • When asked about Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse, specifically, Hoyer said: we’re still in touch on a number of free agents. I wouldn’t say we’re done, because you never want to turn your back on opportunities. Unlikely we do anything significant before we get to Spring Training, but never say never. (He really seemed to emphasize the “before we get to Spring Training” part. If you want to read too much into it, you could say he was leaving open the possibility/expectation that something could happen in Spring Training.)
  • When we came in, Starlin Castro was the one core piece. Jeff Samardzija forced his way into that group, and then there’s Darwin Barney. He’s got some things to work on, in terms of getting on base. Anthony Rizzo has become a part of that, too. We hope Almora/Soler/Baez can be a part of that. We just want to add a couple core pieces each year, and then eventually you look up, and there are eight to ten core young players.

Nothing earth-shattering, but it’s interesting to hear Hoyer once again mention Barney as part of the team’s core – something he suggested at the Convention last weekend.

It was also interesting to hear that the Cubs are still talking to some free agents, particularly when asked about the bigger names. Hoyer’s reaction had the feel of a guy who is conceding that the Cubs have talked to some of the bigger names, but doesn’t think there’s a very good chance the Cubs land any of them (mostly, at this point, I’d think the guy he’d have in mind would have to be Bourn). I’ve long thought the Cubs’ position on Bourn was probably something like, “if he ends up having to settle for a really team-favorable three or four-year deal, we’ll pull the trigger. Otherwise, it’s no big loss not to get him.” The way Hoyer responded to the question struck me as the same kind of thing. I’d assume Hoyer suspects Bourn will eventually get an acceptable offer elsewhere.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that, in the portion of the interview that was posted, Hoyer was speaking only about free agent deals. He didn’t really discuss much in the way of trades. Of course, it’s not like he’s going to say, “Yeah, we’re working on some huge trades, and something is going to happen in the next few weeks.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

122 responses to “Jed Hoyer Speaks: Bourn, Spring Training Moves, Barney, Pitching”

  1. Mike

    Brett:

    Thoughts on signing Borune to a one year deal with an understanding to non-tender him next year?

    1. Kyle

      It’s against the rules to have an agreement with a free agent not to offer them a qualifying offer. Who knows how zealously it will be enforced, but it is illegal.

  2. Hansman1982

    Wow, Brett three articles on a Sunday.

  3. HR Trucker

    With this crud weather Brett could do one an hour.

  4. ActionJackson

    for what its worth, I heard the Cubs and Indians are in deep in talks involving Soriano and Soriano has agreed that the Indians would be acceptable. FYI……this was from a guy on the Prosports daily forum who supposedly has a very good source in the cubs organization. He is very well respected on the forum over there and has mentioned signings and trades long before anyone has mentioned them or they have been completed. Some over there think he is an insider because how accurate he is. Who knows………( the ironic thing is his avatar is a guy holding his finger up to his mouth like “Shhhhhhh” don’t tell)…….kind of like its someone with the “know”

    1. Chaz

      Marlin Bystro or Abty?

      1. Brian

        He was talking about a post by ABTY. He is well on record of stating that he is not an insider. He works for an online media outlet who covers the Royals. Therefore has been able to meet and develop relationships with scouts and what not from other organizations. He simply passes along the information he receives from said people. Marlin on the other hand does seem to have some input from someone within the front office. Said the Cubs where looking at Hayden Simpson well before he was even thought of by anyone else at all.

  5. Marc N.

    It really did sound like ST is wide open for a move the way he said it. I don’t think they’re completely finished, but that just might be wishful thinking. I would really like a starting caliber OF (CF).

  6. Marc N.

    And the inclusion of Barney to me says something that I have suspected for a while…That 2012 was a one shot thing and these guys don’t plan on tanking seasons any more. Barney is a solid starter who only hits his first arb after this upcoming season. Im optimistic enough about him, a competent all around player, that I could see him putting up a league average OBP and a ~.715 OPS with double digit (see: 10) HRs at some point from 27-29.

  7. Brian cubs fan

    i think if bourn signs the cubs have a trade in place for Soriano

    1. Blublud

      That would be a net negative. If the Cubs sign Bourn, chances are they have a trade in place for Dejesus.

  8. d biddle

    the Cubs have a lot of trade able players. Who will be the first player traded?

  9. mudge

    marmol

  10. cubsklm

    Of course Barney is a valuable piece of the core. I expect him to bump his stat line up a bit to hit .265 10 homers, 50 RBIs and steal 10 bases while playing excellent defense. No one works harder than, Barney.

    Marmol will be the first to be traded in Spring Training.

  11. Rafael

    Bourn is a good player but for me i wouldnt pay All that money to get him
    And loose a 2nd round draft pick .He’s got great defense and speed but he strikes out a lot for a lead off hitter !!!this Guy has strike put 140 times 3 of the last 4 seasons !!!thats 2 much for a guy with no power!!!

  12. Morken

    Everytime Barney is mentioned as being a part of the Cubs’ core, I get sick.

    1. Mr. Coffee

      Why? A guy who played defense like he does is a guy who makes you sick? I’m not saying he’s THE guy to build this team around, and he definitely can (and will, I think) improve offensively, but he’s not a guy you would consider as being a part of the team’s future? He’s definitely better with the glove than the bat, but I would still label him as an above average hitter who still has a lot of potential upside offensively. Besides, with some of the guys already on the roster, and some more that could be on the way in a year or two, they don’t need him to be the offensive star. If he can continue to play defense like he does, and hit .275 or .280 instead of .260, I would be thrilled with that. He can be a really good complimentary player, but not the guy you build an offense around.

    2. Jeff1969

      Right, the FO should call Barney crappy. Good idea, enhances his value right?

    3. Tom A.

      Is that good sick or bad sick ? Based on the significant lack of any intelligent support from you in your post, I will assume that you are a positive person and your intention is to state that Barney makes you good sick ! Then, I will state that I too agree and support that by stating I appreciate his strong defense and average batting skills.

    4. Blublud

      Barney is good player. This is why I was sayi g he should be the starter before the start of last year. However, how does a guy who has a lower BA then Campana, Lower OBP then Campana and is older then Campana have offesive upside, but Campana has none. Hmmm.

      1. Tom A.

        Do you understand that Campana plays in the outfield and Barney at 2nd base ? You keep comparing Campana to players like Valbeuna and Barney who are infielders.

        1. Blublud

          Not talking defense. Or roster spots. If I had to choose between Barney and Campana for a roster spot, I would take Barney and DFA Campana all day, different position or same position. However, to say Barney, who is a worse hitter, has a worse OBP and is older by 6 month has offensive upside, but then say Campana is to old to have offensive upside is just stupid. I actually like Barney a lot. I got into similar debates defending him last year that I get into now defending Campana. I think they both have offensive upside, but even more important, they both play the game the right way which is what I really love about both of them. I guess I like guys who do whatever they have to do to maximize their abilities.

          1. Tom A.

            OK, I understand. Let’s just say the discussion is who is your least favorite Cubs on the active roster ?

            I would say either Valbeuna or Marmol for me.

            1. Blublud

              Valbeuna or Shierholtz for me. I think they are both useless. Valbeuna is just bad and Shierholtz provides no upgrade to this team whatsoever.

          2. DarthHater

            If you have a Campana hardon for more than four months, call your doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a serious psychiatric condition.

            1. calicubsfan007

              @DH: Hahahaha, I hate when that happens. (=

            2. MichiganGoat

              Nicely done Darth but the four months will quickly become 4 years and just imagine if he goes to another team and steals a base….The Scrapyrection will last forever!

              1. Pat

                Tony Campana, the Matt Murton of his generation.

                1. MichiganGoat

                  Matt could actually hit a baseball out of the infield and hold on to his bat when a fastball hit the bat, plus he could throw the ball form deep LF to the cutoff man, plus he’s had a great career in Japan… So Matt > Campy and a great blog in his honor – Thunder Matt’s Saloon

                  1. Pat

                    Meh. He was a one tool player as well. I his case it was making contact while hitting as opposed to speed, but he was the epitome of irrational love and we’re still hearing about him like ten years later. I think it’s a valid comparison. While Murton’s arm was better, his range and fielding ability were probably worse.

                    1. MichiganGoat

                      I’m joking here because Murton is on The All Scrappy Team but I believe he was/is better than Campana but that’s not saying much ;)

                    2. Pat

                      You’re right. Mostly because his one skill was more valuable then speed.

                    3. Blublud

                      If Matt Murton is better then Tony Campana then I’m richer then Carlos Slim.

  13. Jeff1969

    Signing Bourn just doesn’t make sense for the Cubs. He’d make sense for a team like the White Sox, even though their OF would be over crowded by signing him, because they have to win in the next season or two. Maybe as a flippable piece the Cubs could sign him, but then we lose a pretty high pick. Too much to gamble for his supposed return. What if he’s injured? Yes the FO has kinda disappointed the hot stove fans a little, but the Cubs are on the right track as an organization, finally, hopefully.

  14. Rich

    Love all the comments and this site of course..
    I just dont see the Cubs that strong….500 would be a miracle for this team.
    75 wins assuming we do not dump at the deadline, would be realistic.

    You trade Soriano, you lose his production. Can he repeat his numbers this year?

    The offense is just not that good at all. Pitching is average at best. I think we are looking at a team that is + 10 wins from last season..

  15. Mac

    I like Barney but, don’t see him as a full core player. He is great defensively (obviously). He just seems to be a utility guy like a Theriot to me. Every championship team needs a guy like that, as Theriot has won back to back World Series. That is just my opinion and I hope Barney proves me wrong

    1. cubsklm

      Of all the positions of need on this team, second base is not one of them. Castro and Barney provide very good defense up the middle.

      The entire OF ranks at the very bottom for offensive production and all they’ve added is 2 career 4th outfielders to platoon.At third base, we’re counting on a rehab project who hasn’t played full time in 2 years. No one knows what to expect offensively from the catching position.

      So as we’re rebuilding the focus should be on every OF position and 3B. Just pencil in Barney at 2B and the 8 hole.

  16. Kygavin

    Barney is the definition of average. Not sure how that makes him part of the core. He doesnt get on base, has average speed at best, below average power and he benefited from the shifting the Cubs used this year to make him a better fielder.

    1. mudge

      He’s playing second base this year. If they find a better second baseman, he’ll be replaced. Not sure what value if any the discussion of who is “core” has.

    2. Jeff1969

      Another Barney hater. Get over it. So you think the only reason Barney really won the GG is cause of shifting? Dale Sveum & his magical shiting recipe has turned previously average fielder at best, Darwin Barney, into a gold glove winner. Silly talk. He’s core because of his ridiculously great WAR, mostly aided by his fielding but over 4 wins above replacement. That’s what smart baseball people look at, what our FO looks at, not his below average power, or his average baserunning skills, but how his presence wins games for the team, saves runs for the team. I wish Barney could hit at least .270 & gets on base above .340 too, but his value with the glove makes me content until we obviously have a better replacement. Get used to it, he’s gonna be out there.

      1. Jeff1969

        Shifting, maybe the other things I said is magical though! Dang! My bad.

    3. Blublud

      And Micheal Jordan benefitted from the triangle offense. He would have suck if it was for that.

      1. Twinkletoez

        Michael Jordon’s 2 best scoring seasons were 86-87 and 87-88 this was before Phil Jackson became coach and implemented the triangle offense.

        Just saying

        1. Blublud

          You totally missed my point. In fact, that was my point. That Jordan was good with or without the triangle offense.

          1. Pat

            I had a hard time telling of that was serious or not. In general, I would say that one should never make any sort of Michael Jordan analogy when speaking of Darwin Barney – Judd Bueschler maybe.

    4. baldtaxguy

      “and he benefited from the shifting the Cubs used this year to make him a better fielder.”

      Ha. 3 errors in 158 games due to shifting? Incredible the depths made to support a point. Yes, he is average offensively, just stop there.

      1. Pat

        The point was that the shifting made it appear he had far more range than he does. That made it appear that he was worth three additional wins just for his glove. Barney is good, but he’s not that good. Right now he is a very useful player because he is inexpensive.

        When they talk about him being part of the “core” it indicates a thought of keeping him up to and beyond his free agent years. He value starts to decrease as his cost increases.

    5. DocPeterWimsey

      One of the statheads provided an estimate of the runs saved by shifts last year for different teams. The Cubs didn’t even make the top 5. Now, that was for an entire team: but if Barney’s range expansion was due solely to shifts, then it’s hard to imagine how the Cubs would have missed the list. (The leaders were in the low 10′s of runs, by the way: i.e., a few teams AL East teams got an extra victory by shifting so much.)

  17. Kygavin

    He went from being 8th in UZR in 2011 to 1st in 2012. What changed? The shifting the Cubs starting using. Yes Barney made the plays but he also was able to get to more balls, he has average range (which didnt improve from 2011 to 2012) but he made 30 more plays… due to shifting

    Yep Michael Jordan went from being an average player in college, which is why he was the 3rd pick and won 2 POY awards, but the only reason he is good is because of an offense. Perfect comparison

    1. David
  18. Kygavin

    Which I agree with but how does he make 30 more plays even tho his RZR went down? Worse range but makes more plays? Sounds like shifting to me

    1. Blublud

      Maybe his RZR went down because of his shifting, but he still had to make the plays with out fumbling the ball or throwing it into the stands.

    2. Kyle

      Correlation does not equal causation. You’re trying very hard to twist the numbers to get to the conclusion you want, but they don’t support it.

      How did Barney get from 8th to 1st?

      Overall, he improved by 8 runs defensively relative to average, going from +5.1 to +13.1

      According to fangraphs, in 2012 he was:

      +1.2 runs better at turning double plays than in 2011
      +6.8 runs better at not making errors

      That covers your entire difference. Neither has much to do with the extreme shifts.

    3. Kyle

      Did you happen to notice that he played 160 more defensive innings in 2012 than in 2011? That accounts for your the 30 extra plays quite nicely.

  19. Kygavin

    He did look better and he did have to make the plays but people here act like he is the Jesus of fielding. id say average to above average but nothing more than that

    1. Blublud

      Nobody says he is the jesus of fielding. However, he is as sure handed of a fielder as there is in all of baseball, at any position. He lacks a little offense, but he makes up for it with runs saved. As for Michael Jordan, the point is the coach can call all the plays and create all the schemes thay want, but the player still has to pull it off. In Other words, Phil Jackson is an all time great coach, but take away Jordan, Pippen, Shaq and Kobe and I doubt he wins any rings. Take Barneh from 2B and replace with anybody on our team, they don’t win a gold glove.

      1. Pat

        Sure, but it’s all about getting outs, not percentage of outs converted. It’s why Castro is a good defender despite the high error totals. Yes, he makes more errors, but he also gets to more chances. Barney is kind of the opposite, he handles everything hit his way, but his range is only decent. Don’t get me wrong, he is a good defensive player over there, but he’s hardly Roberto Alomar in his prime.

        1. Kyle

          Castro is a pretty average-ish defender, probably a little below average. His range helps, but the errors do start to pile up.

          1. Kyle

            He has a chance to get better, of course, as he matures.

            Come to think of it, right now, our up-the-middle defense is pretty problematic. Barney is of course a stud, but DeJesus/Sappelt as CFers, Castro and Castillo are all pretty iffy and probably project to be at least a little below average.

          2. Scotti

            Castro is well above average defensively. Well above average. He was 1st of all MLB SS in Put Outs and 2nd in both Assists and Total Chances. He was 5th in RF so so he doesn’t rank so highly in range just because he plays a lot of games. Does he make some errors? Yes, but he also led MLB in Games at SS, Games Started and was 3rd in Innings so that mitigates the errors to a degree.

            To sum up, he has excellent range, a very strong arm, is quick and natural at SS and is young/still learning. He makes spectacular plays and makes some bone-headed plays because of youth (he’s STILL only 22 y/o). His range factor and fielding percentage have both improved each of his three years in MLB. Saying that he is anything but a good defender with promise for more is just silly.

            1. ETS

              I would love to see the fieldFX #’s but I suspect his range is well above average as well. His footwork has always been sloppy but is improving. I don’t think his initial reactions are as bad. In my mind there’s no reason to think he won’t be a great def shortstop. Larry Bowa praised him alot on clubhouse confidential this time last year. I’d be interested to see what he is saying this year (alas I am currently without cable).

            2. Kyle

              Playing for the pitching staff with the second-fewest strikeouts in the league has a lot more to do with his gaudy chance totals and the poorly named “range factor.”

              He’s not a terrible defensive SS, but the advanced metrics all agree that he’s not a very good one either.

              1. Rich H

                With most fielding stats there is also an eye test involved. Watch Castro play when he is on and you can see how many times you go he covered that well. Even on TV you go wow at times. Now if we can get rid of the times that Castro doesn’t look interested in being in the game and we will have a great short stop. Right now we have a kid that kind of reminds me of Jose Offerman at the same age. Not a bad defensive guy with flashes of excellence. I just hope he ages better than Offerman did.

  20. d biddle

    Barney will be part of the ‘core’ until he does not produce or another team offers more than he is worth to the Cubs. The Cubs will need to make room for Baez and Lake soon.

  21. MichiganGoat

    WHEN WIL WE STOP SAYING THE WORD CAMPANA! The second he is no longer a Cub I’m calling for a moratorium on ever saying his name on here again. I’ve never seen so much bitching and false justifing a fringe 25th spot player yet here it is again another day of overly discussing a minor player and yet Rizzo, Castro, Soriano, Garza, Samardzja are barely me mentioned. STOP SAY CAMPANA!

    1. Other Kyle

      Can we talk about the campaign to conquer the Campania in which General Kampmann defeated Campaña to seize Camp Anna near Campagna?

  22. North Side Irish

    Interesting stuff here about how the front office is pushing the use of statistics throughout the whole organization. Even the minor league guys are getting advanced stats on the hitters they are facing. The FO is really putting their stamp on the whole org.

    http://www.csnchicago.com/baseball-chicago-cubs/cubs-talk/Influx-of-information-a-boon-for-Cubs-pr?blockID=827371&feedID=10336&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

  23. Barroof

    The Cubs should not even think about Bourn. 68 wins and tons of empty seats. Just ride it out this year and crank it up a notch next year. I have a feeling the lack of attendence will start earlier in the season this year but they shouldn’t be signing stop gap players but giving some of the kidstime to sink or swim.

  24. Blublud

    Campana Campana Campana Campana Campana Campana Campana Campana Campana The biggest injustice in the major leagues.

  25. mudge

    Little guy – big injustice.

  26. cheryl

    The FO may push the use of stats and I agree there’s merit to their use but isn’t there still an intangible called the feel for the game?

    1. mudge

      That’s where Tony Campana comes in, I think.

    2. David

      LOL

    3. MichiganGoat

      That is the definition of scrappy, intangible fluff stats to justify a players worth.

      1. cheryl

        No no, no.Campana has to be judged like anybody else. I’m not talking about scrappy fluff stuff MG. I’m talking about situations where a manager or player goes beyond the shifts for defense or the matchups that stats dictate which make a decision almost mechanical = say a player is on the bench and Sveum (something he’d never do) has a feeling that Joe Blow would be a better match against a pitcher than what the stats say and goes with that feeling and in this situation Joe Blow gets a hit that leads to a win,

  27. arta

    IMO Barney is a good base runner, unlike most of the Cub players. at least he scores from 2B on singles most of the time where as most Cubs just make it to 3B. as for his D/shift. he got to balls and made plays other guys couldn’t make shift or not. who in the system is better right now/2013? give the kid credit, the GG kid.

  28. Norm

    I saw somewhere that signing a free agent like Bourn or Lohse, those who you would lose a pick for, sign them to a *minor* league deal. That circumvents the loss of a pick.

    I’m sure there would be some kind of fight over that…but is interesting loophole.

    1. CubFan Paul

      Very interesting. I wonder if the Players Union would allow it. Boras probably has a room full of agents working on loopholes/ideas, especially to prevent Bourn from excepting a one year deal as a last resort.

      If Bourn & Boras get desperate enough to accept 3-4yrs at $40M-$60M, then I’d sign Lohse to a 1yr market value deal also (and lose the 3rd round money & pick too).

      Lohse to a contender in June/July (plus cash) could definitely (maybe) net Theo&Co. 2-3 Top 15 blue chippers out of someone’s farm (to make up for the loss of signing Bourn & Lohse).

      Trading Lohse, Garza, Feldman, Baker, DeJesus, and Soriano before the deadline will definitely vault the Cubs farm into the Top 5 for 2014, which coicidentally lines up with Theo&Co.’s window of contention

  29. Cubs Prospects Getting a Whole Lot More Data and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] you weren’t around this weekend, there was a ton of new content including a Jed Hoyer radio interview, a Lukewarm Stove, the Carlos Villanueva/Lendy Castillo news, and the possible age-related concerns [...]