Jed HoyerChicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was just on 670 The Score with Matt Spiegel and Laurence Holmes, and discussed a variety of topics, including Curt Schilling’s PED comments (as you’ll see, Hoyer was pretty adamant in his denial). Here’s a paraphrased recap of the interview (“I” and “me” is Jed speaking, not me), with the questions and Hoyer’s responses:

  • How do you feel about the offseason, specifically the pitching? Hoyer: If you look at every move we made, we’re building toward something special in the future. The Jackson signing fits in that context due to his age, and he’s has had a good career. Since you can’t snap your fingers and just sign up four or five big time free agents in one offseason, you have to accumulate pieces in stages. It was the right time to get someone like Jackson.
  • What are the landmarks of progress? Hoyer: There was some good development at the Major League level last year, including Anthony Rizzo. We love what we saw out of Jeff Samardzija. And Darwin Barney was outstanding in his defense at second base. But losing 101 games is unacceptable. We focus on whether guys are emerging as a part of the core, and that includes the minors.
  • Will you have some of the bigger name prospects at Kane County because of the proximity to Chicago? Hoyer: The good news is that this year, it will happen naturally, because the team at Boise was so good, and they’ll be promoted (generally) to Kane County. Javier Baez won’t be there for sure, because he already dominated that level.
  • Do you ever worry about the losing damaging the Cubs brand, and that infecting “the process”? Hoyer: The Ricketts Family has been great about the patience, and everyone understands we’re trying to build a team that makes the playoffs eight out of ten years. No one wants to win more than me or Theo or folks on the staff. We don’t want to delay the gratification just to delay it. We want to win as soon as possible, but we don’t want to short-circuit what we’re trying to do long-term.
  • Curt Schilling’s comments about members in the Red Sox organization suggesting he could try and use PEDs later in his career … any response? Hoyer: The first I’d ever heard of that was this morning, so it didn’t really ring true. It’s “preposterous” that Theo or I would be involved in that or would ever encourage PED use. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the story he’s talking about. It wasn’t Theo or me.
  • Have you had to deal with the PED issue as a GM or Assistant GM? Hoyer: It’s a topic in baseball that’s discussed, especially because it’s in the media every day. I’ve never been confronted with it personally.
  • How do you fight against PEDs as a person in a position of leadership? Hoyer: MLB and the union have done a great job and are far ahead of other sports in terms of testing.
  • Isn’t it a shame that we have to always talk about it, and the damage it’s done to the numbers? Hoyer: Yeah, it’s a shame. It’s a shame that we always have to be suspicious, but it’s not unique to baseball. Because of the numbers, people tend to focus on baseball, but it’s a problem in just about every sport.
  • Where is Starlin Castro going to hit, and where should he hit? Hoyer: He’s probably going to hit high in the order down the road. Lineup spots get in guys’ heads, and they can put too much pressure on themselves. Sometimes it’s better to have him lower and let him relax. A lot of times it just doesn’t matter. I’m really bullish on Starlin’s future – he’s going to have more power and he’s going to get on base more. Although some people were expecting more of him last year, but he had a pretty good year.
  • How can a player on the lower levels catch your eye? Hoyer: We have video of every game, and game reports from every game. And we’ve got a lot of stats. So no one’s really going to slip through the cracks. There are physical skills you need to succeed in the big leagues, so it’s a combination of scouting and stats. The cream will rise to the top. Something to remember about prospects, Starlin Castro is still younger than so many guys on top 100 lists.
  • Tim Mo

    Boom, BleacherNation just got named dropped on MLB radio.

    • Brett

      So I’m told – thanks, Tim. Fast tweeting fingers pays off, I guess.

    • Westbound Willie

      I’m surprised that hoyer didn’t acknowledge the schilling story. Who would have thought he would have denied it? Btw doesn’t anyone think hoyer looks like opie Taylor?

  • Seth

    “Something to remember about prospects, Starlin Castro is still younger than so many guys on top 100 lists.”

    So true. People criticize Castro but he is still so young and yet to be in his prime. I can’t wait to see what he does this year and the years that follow.

    • Marc N.

      Yeah but walks.

      Love me some Castro…One of my favorite things to look at:

      Starlin Castro

      2010: .347 OBP (.324 in the NL) and .300 BA (.255 NL)
      2011: .341 OBP (.319 in the NL) and .307 BA (.253 NL)
      2012: .323 OBP (.318 in the NL) and .283 BA (.254 NL)

      Derek Jeter

      1996: .314/.370 (.277/.350 in the AL)
      1997: .291/.370 (.271/.340 in the AL)
      1998: .324/.384 (.372/.340 in the AL)

      Jeter’s big 1999 coincides with the league jumping up again (.275/.347).

      Note that the only years where they’re the same age there is Starlin’s 2012 and Jeter’s 1996. They are both 22 that season.

      I honestly completely forgot Jeter had a couple sub-.300 years in his 20’s. His 19 HRs in 1998 might be less impressive than Castro’s 14 last year considering the context. The AL alone almost hit 2500 HRs in 1998 (literally 2499) and put up a .432 SLG. The NL in 2012 hit 65 less HRs (more than I thought) and put up a .400 SLG.

      No, Starlin Castro is not the next Jeter, but if there were a contest for the guy with the best shot he would be it. Plus our differences are what make us special!

      • Marc N.

        *.272, not .372 in 1998.

        • Seth

          Lol I was gonna say how is that possible. Avg > OBP? But good analysis and comparison. I think many Cubs fans are gonna be watching Castro this year very very closely, waiting for that breakout.

          • hansman1982

            lots and lots and lots of Sacrifices

          • Patrick W.

            Theoretically a player could have more Sacrifice Flies than Walks and HBPs. That would lead to a higher average than on base percentage. I only figured this out because I was at a game early last season in Seattle and Brendan Ryan had that oddity.

          • Carne Harris

            Look up Billy Beane’s stats some time. The guy who’s (rightfully) crazy about OBP had a .241 BA and a .238 OBP his last year playing. That’s how I found out it was possible – looked up his stats after reading Moneyball.

          • Westbound Willie

            My advice to you is to wait longer

      • BluBlud

        Yeah, thats why I’m so high on Castro. Jeter has alway been a touch overrated to me. He has never been as good defensively as people have claimed and I think Starlin has a shot to be better there then Jeter. Offensively, I think he has the chance to develop just as much power if not a touch more then Jeter, maintain a similar BA, Similar SB numbers, but he will probably never touch Jeters OBP, though he will improve there, getting his walk rate at some point, maybe, to 7 or 8 %. I think they are very similar players though.

        • Marc N.

          “Jeter is overrated” got to be an overrated statement as time went on. I <3 Jeter now. When Castro does what it for 15+ years then I'll get on the "better than Jeter" train.

          • Marc N.

            *does it not does it what

          • BluBlud

            Jeter is definite a great player, but he won a couple GG that he didn’t deserve. I’m a big Jeter fan myself, about the only Yankee I can say that about. I watch him play as a kid when my Grandma used to take me to the Greensboro Hornets(our Minor League team used be own by the Yankees) games, where Jeter played as a minor leaguer with Posada and Pettitte. I remember he was horrible then. I think he made like 60 errors or something that season. I think he has always been a touch overrated on the defensive side of the ball.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              I think that is the point to make clear. Jeter was/is/always will be over-rated as a fielder. He simply never was very good, and his few “good” seasons are what you expect when a below-average fielder plays so many years.

              However, and much as it pains me to admit it, Jeter is a great hitter. Smarmy egomaniac that he is, he provided (and still provides) so much offensive value in a position that, even in it’s heyday, usually was last in offensive value. His hagiographers will go on and on about how his “clutchness” won the Yankees 18 straight world series titles, but what really is important is that his relative run creation was key in getting the Yanks to post-season after post-season (regardless of the outcomes).

              Personally, I’d love to get bored with seeing the Cubs in the NLDS: and Jeter helped make that boring for Yankees fans.

              • Can’t think of a cool name

                I bow down to anyone who can date Minka Kelley.

                • Marc N.

                  Jeter could go into two different HOFs. He is both one of the ten greatest SSs of all time and a great celebrity who BAAAAANGS other celebrities (and non-celebrities).

        • bails17

          He is the BIGGEST difference between Jeter and Castro. Jeter has one of the best mindsets in baseball and has had that from a very young age. The way he goes about his business, prepares, leads….he is really a one of a kind. This is SO underrated in baseball today. Jeter is a winner. That is the bottom line. If Castro can actually learn how to become more like Jeter in the dugout and clubhouse, then we will really have something special.

          • Marc N.

            He has to work on his Latin temper.

      • Westbound Willie

        Castro has none of the intangibles that jeter has and unfortunately for Castro and the cubs intangibles is what separates a winner or a loser.

        • Scotti

          Castro played last year at the same age Jeter played his rookie year. When Jeter was the same age as Castro’s rookie year, he had a.959 fielding percentage and the year before it was .889. No one was talking about his intangibles back then. They were talking about how he could hit.

        • Marc N.

          Wins are what separate a winner from a loser.

          • Marc N.

            Also, Castro’s style of play is damn near the future of baseball. The guy going .300/.350/.450 at SS at year wouldn’t even be that much of a surprise at 23. That’s a good .080 points above league average last year and a good ~.060 points in wOBA over the average SS in 2012.

            Castro is a ridiculous talent in all seriousness. We’re talking a guy who is right in line with Derek Jeter at 23, except he’s done it for another year longer than Jeter at the same stage. He’s also shown more HR power. Jeter, for all his hype, was never considered *the* best player in the game (except ’99) but rather one of the best players in the game. That’s about what I see of Castro, who like Jeter will take a hit for not being a GG caliber player at his position despite the huge offensive gap between his offensive production and the average and replacement level at SS. Durability is key too. Like Jeter, Castro has never even hinted at even hiding an injury so far. Knock on wood there, I guess.

            There are very few young players (say 26 and under) in the game I legitimately would take over Castro to build a team around, especially once he gets the hang of being an adult and a professional baseball player. Harper and Trout obviously, but then meh it gets competitive.

            • Marc N.

              Wow. The future of baseball. OK.

  • NextYear

    Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t Theo mentioned in the Mitchell Report?

    • TWC

      The only time he’s mentioned (outside of a couple sourcing footnotes) is this:

      “When the Boston Red Sox were considering acquiring Gagné, a Red Sox official made specific inquiries about Gagné’s possible use of steroids. In a November 1, 2006 email to a Red Sox scout, general manager Theo Epstein asked, “Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?”

      Mitchell Report, page 219

      • NextYear

        Not as incriminating as I originally thought. Thanks for the link.

        • Scotti

          Theo signed him after the scout confirmed that his injury related fall off was a roid thing. That’s bad any way you slice it. (Again, I LIKE Theo).

          • TWC

            That’s not true.

            Gagné was *not* signed by Theo after that discussion noted in the Mitchell Report. He signed as a free agent with the Rangers. He was traded the following summer, at the deadline, to Boston from Texas. Boston non-tnedered him after the 2007 season.

            • Scotti

              Obviously Theo pursued a guy he believed to be a steroid user. Trade or FA doesn’t matter.

              • TWC

                No, that’s not “obvious”. Nor is your comment that “Theo signed him after the scout confirmed that his injury related fall off was a roid thing” correct.

                What is factual is that in July of 2007 the Red Sox made a trade that brought Gagné to their team; previously, in November of 2006, one of the Red Sox team scouts indicated to Theo that he *thought* that Gagné had previously used steroids, and that that steroid use had contributed to what (what the scout perceived as) Gagné’s “lack of durability”.

                • Scotti

                  I don’t believe Theo is an idiot. When his former team–who had access to his medical history–and your trusted scout come to the same conclusion (the guy is a user) you would be pretty daft to think he wasn’t. Theo isn’t daft. Sorry. It’s in the Mitchell Report for a reason.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            That the injury was steroid related is not something that a scout or anybody else can confirm. Yes, steroids probably do contribute to increased injury rates: combined with rigorous workout, steroids let players build up “go” muscles and if players do not do the appropriate exercises to build up the “stop” muscles, then that leads to injury. (Body builders on steroids would still do all of the workouts so that they could get those little muscles that only anatomy students can identify to bulge on command.) Also, building up muscles like that does nothing to build up ligaments and other soft-tissue: so, if the “brake” muscles are relatively weak, then it’s easier to break those things.

            However, this is true without steroids: athletes who build up “go” without building up the “stop” will do the same thing, eventually.

            At any rate, like most playoff bound teams, the Sox were hoping to build up their middle relief, and Gagne had looked OK pitching for the Rangers. He cost the Sox David Murphy, but he probably would not have greatly helped them over the last few years: Murphy would not have made up for the starting pitchers getting injured in late 2011 or 2012.

            • Scotti

              Gagne has a classic roid success/injury profile. Can anyone prove an injury is steroid related? Medically, absolutely. Did Theo have or need that? No. He had the Dodgers front office opinion and his scout did some snooping. The guy did roids.

              The ligament part you have right.

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  • Marc N.

    Keith Law’s Cubs top 10:

    1. Javier Baez, SS (31)
    2. Albert Almora, CF (33)
    3. Jorge Soler, RF (42)
    4. Arodys Vizcaino, RHP (64)
    5. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
    6. Duane Underwood, RHP
    7. Juan Carlos Paniagua, RHP
    8. Pierce Johnson, RHP
    9. Paul Blackburn, RHP
    10. Arismendy Alcantara, SS

    Might be my favorite top 10 of the Cubs, though it relies heavily on upside. I’m a huge Candelario fan and that Sandoval comp he made was very interesting to me.

    Not as high on Blackburn as I might become. I would like to hear about or see a better fastball. He’s got the potential to be an Odorizzi/Folty type prospect THO, and those guys got/get alot of like/love.

    • JBarnes

      Odorizzis my boy, went to high school with him. Cubs need to trade for him haha.

  • Jacob

    Jim Bowden just said from “A league source” that the MLB will consider giving the Mets their first round pick if they sign Bourn because the *intent* of the rule was to protect the teams with the worst 10 records. So, they may end up changing the language.

    Very surprised by this… I, like most people, thought the language was set like that on purpose. Apparently they overlooked it? I don’t know.

    • Marc N.

      That’s about the only case the Mets have…The intent of the rule was most certainly to protect the teams with the worst ten records.

    • BluBlud

      I’m happy about this. The Mets should not have to suffer because of the Pirates, “lack of incompetence” “The Pirates being Cheap” “Boras being Bullish” or any of the many excuses that have been given. I think Baseball should move towards the NBA Rule. It would eliminate this part of the compensation issue. Once you are drefted by a team, they own your rights in that league forever, unless they decide to trade those rights. the NCAA should help by adding in the basketball rule also that states once you are draft, you no longer have any college eligibility left. That would end all this crap.

      • D.G.Lang

        There was NO lack of incompetence, there may have been an abundance of it.

        What may have been was a lack of COMPETENCE although aome people believe that the Pirates actions were calculated risk taking.

    • DB Kyle

      The Mets are lobbying hard for this. It’s going to be pretty sad if a team can get a rule change just because they begged for it.

      • TWC

        Yeah. It’s the toddler exemption.

      • Mick

        Selig has been granting exceptions to his buddy Fred Wilpon for years. I gurantee if this was Jeffrey Loria appealing the rule there’d be no exception made. Look at what Selig did to Frank McCourt because he was using baseball funds to finance his divorce. But the Wilpons get sued by the victimes of the Bernie Madoff ponzi sheme and Selig turns a blind eye? As if the Wilpon’s weren’t using baseball related funds to bankroll their lawyers. Also, the Mets charade of rebuilding during that litigation, their failed attempts to build a casino next to Citi Field, and their interest in selling minority shares of their ballclub. Seriously, WTH is going on here and how are the Wilpons getting away with it???

  • cccubfan

    Way to go Schilling – You are gonna make some headlines again to boost that ego…..
    Just my personal opinion there folks

  • Sponge-Bob

    BluBlud. I agree with your NCAA and NBA rule ideas for baseball. Unfortunately MLB has a very powerful Union and wouldn’t have any of it. Cool thought though…

  • DB Kyle

    Well, if Hoyer denies it, that’s good enough for me. Sports figures never lie about this stuff.

    It wouldn’t stun me if it was one of our guys. If I had to guess, though, I’d say no. First you calculate the odds that Schilling is lying (large).

    Then, if he’s not lying, that sounds to me more like something an ex-jock would do than a nerdy front office type. I’m imagining it was a manager/bench coach or something.

  • DB Kyle

    Once again, I’m unimpressed with the math.

    This front office couldn’t build a team that made the playoffs 80% of the time in Boston, with more money to spend and inheriting a playoff team to start with. I don’t think they are going to do it here, despite the weaker division.

    • Hansman1982

      And I’m unimpressed with your math. 6 playoff appearances in 10 years. I guess you could fault them for not winning the WS 80% of the time.

      • Hansman1982

        Reading error on my part. Never mind.

    • AB

      The Red Sox made the playoffs the second-most of any team in the league during Epstein’s time as GM, one less than their division rival, the Yankees who had the most appearances than 7. Not sure why they isn’t impressive.

      • DB Kyle

        I didn’t say I was unimpressed with Epstein’s tenure in Boston. I said I was unimpressed with the math.

        We throw away 2 or 3 seasons, then hope to make it as much as he did in Boston, and *maybe* it adds up to 50%. Certainly not 80. Not terrible, not even bad, but not as good as we should be aiming for.

        • Marc N.

          80 is a nice big # THO. Possibly this time they make better big money FA choices. That would make a huge difference.

  • Timmy

    I’ve been pretty critical of the “save money for the ownership’s second yacht” lose/lose approach they’ve taken, but I’m going to guess that this conversation has taken place on every single team in baseball, and probably still does to this day. So singling out a specific GM, team president, or player is just absurd, as is feigning indignance when it comes time for HOF ballets. Even if it turns out that it was Theo that instigated this conversation, there’s nothing particularly controversial or surprising about it, and we should just turn that page. If the story was a random “Black Sox” team or two harsh action would be warranted but a culture of injections demands a more balanced hand.