Jed HoyerI am headed to the Sheraton downtown for the start of the Cubs Convention, so I will not have my computer for the rest of the day (though I’ll have my phone for any arbitration settlements and, of course, feverish tweeting). Before I headed out, Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on with McNeil and Spiegel on the Score, and I jotted down some quick notes (these are paraphrased):

  • Kris Bryant still has a lot to learn (the question was about getting him to Wrigley ASAP). He needs to work hard on defense at third. We’re confident he can do it long-term, but there’s work to do. We also need him to see some better minor league pitching, and go through some slumps. A guy has to struggle in the minors so he knows how to deal with it when it happens in the majors, and then to get out of it.
  • Javier Baez will move around in Spring Training, because we need to expose him to second and third. He’ll play shortstop at AAA, and the other positions are a quick adjustment if something needs to happen. We’ll move him around.
  • Darwin Barney may have gone for a little too much power last year, and that may have messed up his mechanics. Barney is a “winning player,” does a lot of things well – leader, defender, etc.
  • Don’t want to get into specifics on Masahiro Tanaka, we’re in the middle of a negotiation process. We are involved. Not too many 25-year-olds become available in the States, but, yes, that’s attractive to our timeline.
  • When the foundation is there, we’ll have the resources there. The bigger financial commitments will come eventually. No financial limitations in building the foundation. (Don’t read anything into this paraphrasing: the gist was, Hoyer was not really giving anything up on the financial questions.)
  • Starlin Castro is working to get stronger and faster this offseason. His frame could support speed and power, so that’s what the extra training is about.
  • Jeff Samardzija’s stuff is as good as anyone. He tapered off a bit last year, but the transition to starting is hard. We think he can carry what he did early last year throughout a full year.
  • Generally-speaking – not about Samardzija, specifically, as a possible mid-season trade – we’ve depleted the team at the deadline the last two years, and have done very well in those trades. We look forward to the day that we’re doing the opposite kind of deals.
  • Hope the only pressure Anthony Rizzo faces is the pressure he puts on himself. His year last year was a lot better than people seem to think. Top level defense, near top in extra base hits, near top in walks. It was just the batting average. Plenty of positives to take away.
  • Jim

    “When the foundation is there, we’ll have the resources there.”

    I don’t care if he’s supposed to say that, that’s encouraging.

    • Voice of Reason


      The Royals General Manager will say the same thing when he is on the radio.

      • YourResidentJag

        I actually have problems with both comments. First, he said they’re has to be a core of young players before they think about FAs. He almost took it as an afterthought…supplementing the core. That really nothing new. Second, he interestingly tied it to PEDS–suggesting that the trends now are that the game is getting younger. So, on the resource front…even if the have them it has to be guys like Tanaka and not neccessarily the $$$ given to older veterans.

        @Voice…No, this is what Jed has always said and not specific to today’s conversation. Rueben Amaro wouldn’t say it if he was on the radio BTW.

      • Tommy

        Well Voice of Reason – you let me know when that happens, and make sure you add a link to it. Thanks for your continued cynicism.

  • BlameHendry

    “We’re in the middle of a negotiation process.”

    Not like we didn’t know, but at least it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.

  • willis

    I’m such a sucker. That interview got me a little fired up for the season both in the minors and up top. If anything it’ll be interesting.

    • coondawg


    • cking6178

      Willis – agreed…I live in NC and have gone back and forth about whether I should cancel the MLB package this year to save a few bucks (my 2nd daughter is due early March)…but I just can’t bring myself to do it bc I know as soon as I do, the Cubs will put it all together…then again, maybe I should “take one for the team”, hahaha.

      • Mr Gonzo

        Congrats on the baby girl, cking6178! We’re expecting our first son this March, and I’ve been planning out how I can sneak an MLB package into the budget. I position it as a necessary part of the development process….

        • willis

          Well, worst case you’ll get tons of late night west coast games on live while you are being taken for your sleep by the little ones! Congrats to you both. Keep the package…you’ll need it (12am crying fit “oh honey, I’ll take care of her/him, no worries.”) you’ll earn points to use later, AND get some baseball in.

  • Isaac

    “go through some slumps. A guy has to struggle in the minors so he knows how to deal with it when it happens in the majors, and then to get out of it.”

    Is there any factual data whatsoever to support this claim? I have always kind of turned my nose to it, but I’d love to see a research report on it.

    • dw8

      My guess is that the quote’s purpose is at least two-fold.

      1. Managing fan expectation in case Bryant struggles eventually.
      2. Managing player timetable in case he doesn’t struggle.

      • Isaac

        Fair enough. Solid answer.

        In general, I just dislike the idea. The reality is, the general makeup of a person is evident without someone “having to experience a slump”. Anyone who has played baseball for more than 20 games has experienced what a slump feels like.

        • mjhurdle

          I have always assumed that type of phrase is used more as a way to say “he needs to learn how to make adjustments” more than just a random slump.
          I don’t think many players, even in the minors, lack the mental makeup to recover from a 0-10 streak (though i could be wrong, i never played in the minors so it may be harder than i suppose).
          I think they might be referring more to ‘what will he do when his pure talent isn’t enough’. When the pitcher learns to attack low and away, and he just can’t hit that, will he be able to make adjustments? That is how i take the statement, b ut i could be totally wrong.

        • Danny Ballgame

          I think Jed meant that it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for him to have to make some major adjustments while in the minors so that he doesn’t become complacent in his talent level. Then again, I don’t have any evidence to present supporting either concept.

  • MattyNomad

    Not really sure if I want our resources going to a guy that projects to be an unproven #2…Much rather roll our dice with the FA class next year. But I have a whole lot of optimism as some of our hopefulls drawing closer to Wrigley. Supported this rebuild from day one, although this offseason has pushed my faith to its limits lol

    For anyone who’s interested, my wife and I will be at CubsCon this weekend….throwing back some brews with my friends on the Wrigley staff. Hit me up @OhTheHorror_13 if anyone is down to talk baseball and meet some new faces. Hope to meet some of you guys as well!

  • coondawg

    I really wouldn’t mind a trade for Homer Bailey then sign him to an extension especially if we get Tanaka and extend Shark

  • Voice of Reason

    Who wouldn’t mind a trade for Homer Bailey?

    The question is, what are you willing to give up? One of the big 4? That’s where the talks will start!

  • When The Musics Over

    While always nice to hear, there was very little said in the way of actual content, and most of it is just a repeat of what’s been said in the past.

  • Fastball

    I would prefer that a hitter who is better than the pitching he is facing not go into a slump. If your better than whom your facing, you should be knocking the cover off the ball until you find some pitchers who are capable of slowing you down. A kid like Bryant probably isn’t getting fooled much until he gets past AA. So letting him sit at a lower level for very long isn’t going to do much for him. It will be like live batting practice to him. Not really a challenge. He can take a couple hundred fungos everyday at 3B in Knoxville or Des Moines. He can play 3B at either level right now. The action at 3B isn’t going to be that much different. Really not seeing much sense in holding him down. Back in when I played we went from college pretty much straight to AA. We were already advanced beyond lower level minor league ball.

  • rcleven

    “Javier Baez will move around in Spring Training, because we need to expose him to second and third. He’ll play shortstop at AAA, and the other positions are a quick adjustment if something needs to happen. We’ll move him around.”

    Sounds like Baez is just an injury(or under performance) away.

    Super two be damned.

    • Jon

      He won’t come up until super 2 has passed in June, I can almost guarantee that.

      • hansman

        The super-two “safe” date is now mid-July.

        The earliest he comes up is May 1 the latest is May 1 next year.

        • BenRoethig

          Mid-July sounds about right. His bat is near major league ready, but he needs to work on his fielding and someone(s) need to move positions.

  • Jason P

    That last bullet is spot-on. Rizzo was above average last year and, actually, borderline top 10 at his position.

    • Jon

      No, not even close.

      • hansman

        Not even close on what?

        • Jon

          Anthony Rizzo was not a borderline top 10 first baseman last year.

          WAR – 19th
          OPS – 20th
          wOBO 19th

          Whichever metric you want to use, he was not top close to top 10.

          • Jason P

            Other WAR -13th
            Walks – 5th
            HR – 13th
            2B – 2nd
            UZR/150 – 3rd
            BB/K ratio – 6th
            BABIP – 23rd

            I’ll admit, top 10 is a stretch, but when you consider the stats he put up despite the bad luck he experienced, I’d say he’s squarely in the top 12-14 range.

            • CubFan Paul

              “despite the bad luck he experienced”

              Lets chalk it up to bad luck (again).

          • Jason P

            And fangraphs had him 17th, not 19th in WAR.

            • DougTheBug

              Boom, drop the mike. I agree, stats lkke that are remarkable for in his first full year. After he gets some protection in the lineup i think he could be a top 5 PLAYER in baseball

      • gocatsgo2003

        The numbers aren’t QUITE as far from the truth as you portend — depending on the metric of your favor, he was 12th in MLB for 1B for ISO, 19th for wOBA, 17th for WAR. Wouldn’t go quite so far as saying he was “borderline top 10 at his position,” but he was at least solidly in the middle of the pack in what most are hoping is a down year. If he has any kind of rebound at all (and that’s obviously the “big if”), he is likely a top 10 first baseman by most measures.

  • The Ghost of Brett Jackson

    Rizzo was 17th among 1B if you want to use WAR (fangraphs), 1.6. #10 was Loney at 2.7. The drop off after Rizzo was about 1 win. There were 17 1Bs last year that were at least 1 win above replacement and Rizzo was 17. With that said I do agree Rizzo had a much better year than some give him credit for. There are reasons for optimism.

    • Jason P

      Another thing to remember – Rizzo was extended for 7 years, $41 million, under $6M/yr. Fangraphs projects he was worth $8.1 million last season. So in other words, even if he doesn’t improve, the Cubs are still getting value out of his contract.

      • bbmoney

        That’s really the value of WAR in free agency. You can’t ignore that a big part of that contract was for pre arb and arbitration years. So that’s not really the whole picture.

        I still like that deal for the Cubs, but that kind of linear analysis based on the value of WAR in free agency doesn’t really work here.

        • Jason P

          It’s the average value it costs for 1.0 WAR across MLB. Regardless of whether you develop your talent or buy it, value is still value. The point is to say, because Rizzo is signed on a below market deal, his contract will still be good even if he doesn’t improve at all.

          • bbmoney

            I don’t know. I’m seeing the 8.1M under Rizzo on FG in the “Value” section. If I check to see what “Dollars” means it says

            “Dollars – WAR converted to a dollar scale based on what a player would make in free agency”

            SInce Rizzo isn’t/wasn’t a free agent, I can’t agree with how you’re doing the assessment. Unless you’re looking elsewhere.

            • Jason P

              You’re right, my bad.

              • bbmoney

                It doesn’t really matter. I still agree with your overall point so cheers.

  • ssckelley

    I hope they are able to fix Barney. If he can return to hitting like he did in 2011 or 2012 then the Cubs have another flippable asset to trade at the deadline. Barney is the odd man out once these prospects start reaching the majors.