Today, Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on the Talkin’ Baseball radio program with Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner on ESPN1000, and I’ve paraphrased his answers below:
- How do you look at Scott Baker’s progress, and where is he at? JED: He’s getting his legs underneath him and getting used to being back on the mound. We’re keeping an open mind, in terms of not putting dates on it. His rehab has been great, and the reports are all positive. We’re confident he’ll have a great season, but missing a start early in the year is better than rushing him back and missing starts later.
- Was it surprising that Dale Sveum announced Scott Feldman in the rotation? JED: No, we talking to Scott this Winter, and one of the big things when we signed him is that he wanted to go somewhere he could start. And we signed him with that understanding. So we’ll put him in the rotation, and he’ll have a lot of success. The announcement was kind of common sense, but obviously it got a lot of play. You can’t have too many starters.
- From your perspective, how important is having the ballpark fully renovated and up to snuff in terms of recruiting players? JED: Hugely important. Players love playing for the Cubs, and the history is enticing, but that doesn’t last forever. When the facilities are worse than what they had in the minors, it becomes a challenge. Going into the bowels of Wrigley … it’s just not up to snuff. I can’t imagine a reason why the Cubs wouldn’t have a plus facility. We’re building great facilities in Mesa and in the DR, and they are fantastic. The third part of that stool has to be renovating Wrigley. It’s time to get to it – they’ve pushed it off for 20 years now.
- How difficult is it to prepare for a season when you don’t think you can win this year? JED: Well, you go into every season believing that 28 or so teams have a chance, if everything breaks right. No one gave Baltimore or Oakland a chance last year. I like being underdogs from a clubhouse standpoint. That said, it’s exciting to see the young players. You don’t want to take your eye off the present, but it’s nice to see young guys taking BP and ground balls, etc.
- Does the 500 AAA at bats thing depend on the individual? JED: It’s important to finish off a player from a development standpoint. It’s what we like to do, but I can’t say there will never be an exception. A hitter gets a lot from that last step – look even at someone like Mike Trout, who was sent back down. Tampa Bay does a great job of getting its prospects ready, and they don’t rush their guys. If you rush guys, it’s hard to have them ready to go in the bigs.
- How much were the Cubs involved with Michael Bourn? JED: There was dialog with Scott Boras about that. Bourn’s a great player, and he’s a player we talked about. I wouldn’t classify the interest as “that far down the road.” We didn’t get that serious. But we did have dialog. The draft pick was a strong consideration – we need to build from within, and the money with the draft picks is very important. It wasn’t the entire consideration, but it was a part of the decision.
- How open will you be to trading and being proactive if a GM comes to you and says I need a relief pitcher badly (i.e., Carlos Marmol)? JED: I don’t want to address Carlos specifically, but in general we have to be open minded to acquiring young talent. A lot of fans really enjoyed Paul Maholm, but getting Arodys Vizcaino was the right move.
- What did you think of Jorge Soler when you first saw him, and now? JED: First time I saw him was Thanksgiving in 2011, and he’s an exciting player. Great body. Incredibly strong. Great bat speed. He’s got some mechanical adjustments to make. The tools are all there, and the willingness to work at it are there. Batting practice is fun and exciting, but we’ve got to temper those expectations.
- What is the relationship like between you and Theo? Are there days where you just disagree? JED: Most days we have respectful disagreements. We’ve been doing it for a long time, and it’s almost second nature. We agree philosophically on where we want to go and how to get there. But individual players and moves, we disagree a lot. Sometimes that’s just one of us taking the other side to make sure we make the right decision. We have some good, heated debates.
- Bunting contest against Theo? JED: We’ve played a fair amount of sports against each other – pickup basketball and stuff like that. Dale probably enjoyed pairing us up. It should be fun.