Jed HoyerToday, 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.
  • Spencer

    Ha, I wonder who the two teams are that Jed thinks don’t have a chance each year. Probably St. Louis.

  • Njriv

    I asked this question the other day, I’,m not sure it was answered. I’m guessing Baker starts the year on the 15-day DL rather than the 60-day, so since that takes care of the rotation problem for about two weeks, who will be the odd man out when he comes back? It would have to be Feldman right? Since Wood is out of options and Feldman has more experience pitching out of the pen. Typically it you would say, “ride the hot hand” but that would be pretty hard to determine just only two weeks into the season.

    • Brett

      I don’t think the Cubs would have an answer for you right now, other than “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” Maybe someone else gets hurt. Maybe someone gets traded. Maybe someone flops in the rotation. If everyone’s pitching lights out, then maybe Baker piggy-backs with another starter. Maybe Wood goes to the bullpen.

      Many, many possibilities. No real answer right now, because that’s part of the reason they’d put him on the DL: punt the decision down the road.

    • Marc N.

      I don’t think that is enough to take Feldman out of the rotation (Wood not having options and Feldman having pen experience from pitching on one of the deepest pitching staffs in the league), and I doubt two weeks will be enough to kick him out.

      • Marc N.

        Stuff like this makes me wonder if they go to a 6 man at some point or some kind of piggy back system during the season with Wood/Villanueva/Vizcaino.

        When Baker comes back I’m thinking the pitching staff goes:


        Myriad of arms

        Now that I think about it I haven’t thought too much about this.

        • Brett

          I would *love* to see them experiment with a four-man, four piggy-backs, a la the Rockies, but the problem is, “starting pitchers” want to “start.” I think you’d have trouble with that kind of set up long-term, because the starters might not like the short outings (and the lack of an ability to “win” most days), and the piggy-backers wouldn’t like being in “the bullpen.”

          It’s a shame, because I could see it really working with the right pitchers.

          • Marc N.

            Yeah, it’s a horrible long term option but the personnel the team has seems to leave it a legit option for this season in some capacity. I think some kind of system with Feldman, Wood, Villanueva (who I forgot to list up there), and later Vizcaino could work. Baker should probably be lumped in there since he’s coming off TJ surgery. The Cubs kinda sorta did some piggy backing in 2011 when Russell was forced into a starting role and the organization was willing to let him take some lumps there.

            Also, the more I think about this pitching staff the less use I am finding for Shawn Camp. He seems like prime fodder for a trade right now with someone like Corey Wade capable of replacing him and a bunch of flex starter/relievers seemingly in the mix.

  • myporsche

    I hope theo and jed dont get hit in the face with some balls

  • MightyBear

    I like him saying we’ve got to temper those expectations. While the Cubs have many exciting young players in the system, not everyone is going to be a major league player and none are going to be Babe Ruth or Ted Williams or Hank Aaron. Good to have a pipeline but hard to get a Pujols or Verlander.

  • terencem

    ” I can’t imagine a reason why the Cubs wouldn’t have a plus facility…”

    I wonder where Jed rates Wrigley on the 20-80 scale?

    • Brett

      Can’t be much better than a 30 or a 40 (in terms of player facilities).

  • Rcleven

    Soler sure draws a crowd.

    • truthhurts

      That ball makes a nice sound coming off his bat, doesn’t it?

  • Bob Johnson

    I don’t see how Jed can say Vizcaino was the right move. A crafty lefty like Maholm could be a top pitcher for another ten years. Only time will tell.

    • Bwa

      The problem with this statement is that Maholm is not a top pitcher. He is at best a good 4 and is replaceable. Vizcaino has very good potential to be a number 2 type starter or a great closer.

    • hookersorcake

      Yeah Maholm will be a top pitcher until he’s 41… that why the Cubs got him for 1 yr 4.75 with a team option for another year. They don’t make trolls like they used to.

    • MichiganGoat

      I got left to say here except a SMH + facepalm

      • MichiganGoat

        See such a confusing comment that me no speaks wells

  • Marc N.

    I like that they disagree on individual players even though they have a similar philosophy, a lot. Goes to show that you can build a logical argument for and against many different players and you need to get into a deep conversation to make the best decision.

  • DaveY

    So when is Jed going to get Starlin Castro his 500 AAA at bats? Currently Castro has none.

    • Die hard

      Exactly why he will never be the hitter he could’ve been

    • MichiganGoat

      Um Castro was brought up under Hendry and didn’t skip a beat, if he was brought up by Jed them maybe you have arguement but he is obviously able to handle MLB pitching.

  • Scotti

    Not a fan of piggybacks but starters need an extra day of rest between starts. That’s why steroids work for pitchers–it’s the shortening of the recovery time not bigger, stronger muscles. It’s also why you see college pitchers putting up 140 pitch outings and coming back strong their next start a WEEK later. A six-man rotation would get your starters much deeper into games (they’d log about the same amount of innings just in fewer games started) AND, most importantly, you would lose fewer starters to injury (cost savings there could afford you better 5th and 6th starters).

  • stevie

    I really like the idea of a 6 man rotation. It would ease the burden of trying to get guys into the rotation, and which should go to the pen til further notice. A 6 man rotation would also ease the wear on our starters early in the season, help guys coming off injury to get an extra day of rest, guys like Baker, and Vizciano when he gets promoted. It makes almost everyone that came here to be a starter happy. It also allows us to showcase some of the guys we are considering trading around the deadline throughout the first half of the season. It’s not a new idea, but it’s an idea we should consider.