Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer recently jumped on 670 The Score to discuss a whole range of topics surrounding the Chicago Cubs, including some thoughts on how the Cubs will proceed on the pitching front as the trade deadline approaches.
He got into much more than that, though. Below, I’ve collected some of the highlights of that interview – which you can listen to in full right here – alongside some thoughts of my own …
- Hoyer told 670 The Score that Kris Bryant will have to begin monitoring his workload more (Hoyer emphasized how much time he spends in the cages) as well as how high the finish is on his swing in order to best protect his shoulder. I’m neither surprised to learn that Bryant swings a lot (that’s how you become such a good hitter, after all) nor uncomfortable with him reducing that workload. That seems reasonable.
- But on the swing change, I can’t say I’m as easy-going as Hoyer is on a mechanical change to Bryant’s swing. Obviously, Bryant adjusts all the time and Hoyer knows him better than almost anyone (oh, and Bryant did homer yesterday), but that did give me pause. Hoyer did clarify what he meant later on, though: “Obviously he doesn’t want to change his swing dramatically, but just small things that may help out.” Relieving the pressure and avoiding further inflammation are within the realm of possibility.
- As for the time off, don’t expect to see a ton of scheduled days off for Bryant. From the sound of it, this will be more of a when Kris tells us he needs a day off, we’ll give him one kind of thing. “Obviously you want Kris Bryant playing every day …. Our expectation and hope is that he can play everyday, but if he does need a day off” the Cubs will do that.
- Relatedly, Hoyer talked a bit about the Cubs’ roster depth while complimenting Joe Maddon on his lineups. He realizes that inconsistent lineups chaps SOME fans’ behinds, but contends that the mixing and matching and keeping everyone fresh early on (a.k.a. the reason for different lineups) is what allowed the Cubs to best utilize their full roster when Bryant went down. I very much agree – that’s a really good point. We usually discuss the isolated daily benefit of playing the matchups, but keeping everyone in starting mode makes these sort of transitions that much smoother. It doesn’t hurt to have Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ “on the bench,” either.
- Hoyer thinks Hendricks would’ve thrown a complete game shutout if that lone, flukey run didn’t score from first on Monday, adding when he’s on, “He’s as fun to watch as anyone.” But the real fun came during Hoyer’s revelation that Hendricks had basically been calling a game like that for a couple weeks. According to Hoyer, Hendricks was telling the front office that he’s “really close, really close” to figuring whatever troubled him mechanically, and apparently he did.
- Hoyer never thought Mike Montgomery was going to keep up that blisteringly hot start, but does still think he can be good starter. The key for him, according to Hoyer, is getting ahead of batters, because his stuff just works better when he’s not behind. As we discussed in the Pre-Gamin’ post before Montgomery’s start yesterday, he’s had some other issues recently (lack of grounders), and he gave up four in the first inning to the Giants.
- Yu Darvish is playing catch again today, but “there’s some uncertainty” after being shutdown as he got close last time around. I think Brett’s original guess of “not July” is going to hold up.
- It was at this point that Hoyer got into the “exploring a lot of pitching opportunities” stuff Brett dissected earlier. He did note that even if Darvish was back by the trade deadline, they’d be likely to add because there are some lengthy second-half stretches without off-days that could run a toll on the staff.
- Jed Hoyer does not share the same concerns regarding the Home Run Derby as many fans do (re: Kyle Schwarber and Javy Baez participating in the event). He says that most of that stuff is anecdotal, and he watches these guys take hack after hack – aiming for the stands – in batting practice everyday. Hoyer calls it a “bucket list” thing: “To deny a guy like Kyle or Javy that doesn’t make sense.” It’ll be something they “always remember. Let’s let them have fun.” Hoyer wouldn’t pick a winner between the two, but guesses Schwarber hits the furthest dinger.
- Hoyer couldn’t be happier or more proud for All-Star Willson Contreras, particularly given his lengthy journey as a non-top prospect, his positional switch, and the clear, but extremely raw talent he brought with him when he was first being scouted by the Cubs.
- On David Bote, who was sent back down yesterday to make room for Bryant, Hoyer shared the following compliments: “I think the thing that impresses me most is that he looks completely comfortable playing in the big leagues …. No anxiety or nerves making the right play, making some really difficult plays looks easy. He looks relaxed and calm. When he goes to bed at night, I think he feels like he belongs in the big leagues and that’s how he plays.” I can’t stress enough how impressed Hoyer was with Bote and his comments, in particular, are so obviously true (think of that walk-off walk he took). Bote’s got a big league future ahead of him regardless, but impressing Hoyer is a good start.
- On Anthony Rizzo, Hoyer suggests that although he’s never had such a weird, long slump, he has had struggles before and always comes through them. He’s got “the strength and willingness to get out of it.” Hoyer also thinks the All-Star break will help Rizzo “a ton,” like a “video game reset button.”
- The Trade Deadline could be a busy one this year, particularly from teams selling the American League, because of the extreme standings imbalance. The Red Sox and Yankees, for example, have a 12.0 game lead over the third place Rays. The Indians have an 8.5 game lead over the second-place Twins. And the Astros have a 4.0 game lead over the second-place Mariners and a 10.0 game lead over the third place A’s. Clearly, the contenders and fakers know who’s who by now, so rosters could be changing. I suppose that’s good to hear from a GM on a contender in the NL.