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Jed Hoyer Speaks: The Right Leadoff Mentality, Bad Decisions in AZ, Mound Visits, Pitch Clocks, More

Chicago Cubs

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer jumped on 670 The Score from Arizona to chat with Spiegel and Parkins this morning, but instead of the usual audio-only recording, The Score shared a live video of the interview.

So that’s a change of pace:

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer sitting down with Spiegel and Parkins, live from Sloan Park in Mesa, AZ.

Posted by 670 The Score on Monday, February 26, 2018

Feel encouraged to check out the entire thing right there. I’ll hit on some of the highlights, alongside some thoughts of my own, below:

  • Yesterday, Hoyer and “all of baseball” attended the memorial service for former Padres and D-Backs GM Kevin Towers, who passed away recently, and Hoyer said it truly was a celebration of life. “It must’ve been 20-25 people that got up and spoke, every single one did a great job, every single one had a different story to tell about him. He was a universally beloved person in our game.” Hoyer went on to share a story of his own, regarding how much Towers helped him out when Hoyer first took over the Padres.
  • And, as it turns out, Towers was the one who first gave both Theo Epstein and Jason McCleod a chance to move out of the business side of baseball and into the baseball operations side.
  • Playing off of what they learned from Kevin Towers, Jed Hoyer points out that the Cubs front office, under Epstein’s leadership, has been designed as a flat-hierarchy on purpose. Hoyer and Epstein want anyone in the organization to be comfortable stopping by their offices and/or sharing their opinions, because, as Hoyer later points out, some of their bigger, more successful ideas come from those unheralded sources. I would expect nothing else from a progressive front office, many of whom made their bones as extremely young, innovative front office members. “Sometimes it takes an intern noticing something …[to] make a big difference.”
  • When he was asked about Yu Darvish’s wild arsenal and what the specific plan was for this season, Hoyer remained cagey, but did admit that, in general, the Cubs like their pitchers to be comfortable using all of their pitches, especially unexpected ones in certain counts. To paraphrase Hoyer’s thinking, even if your “fourth” pitch is one you’re not comfortable with, it’s important to use it in random, unexpected situations, because it can put doubt in the hitters head (both for that at-bat and later in the game). “Making sure a guy uses his entire arsenal is really important.”
  • Hoyer mentioned that unleashing his entire arsenal is what helped Brian Duensing break out last season.
  • Hoyer is happy with the reduction in mound visits (as part of the broader pace-of-play initiatives), and thinks that the game will be better because of it. He’s aware of the concerns over sign stealing, but believes that the league will be cracking down on that more this season than they have in the past anyway. And, once the dust has settled “10 games into the season,” Hoyer thinks everyone will be used to the changes and the game will be more enjoyable for fans.
  • Hoyer thinks that pitch clocks may ultimately be inevitable in Major League Baseball, but the doesn’t necessarily love the idea of the clock itself. Interestingly, he doesn’t mind the idea of enforcing when a pitcher throws, but he thinks the clock, itself, will be a distraction. “But we have to speed the game up. It’s important.”
  • On the roster, Hoyer is happy the Cubs have very few decisions to make, because, as he put it, “We don’t make good decisions” in Arizona. “I just think that when we put fans in the stands and we start keeping score, everyone thinks everyone’s playing the same, and we’re not. One guy’s working on fastball command, and the other guy’s trying to make the team.” That’s very well put, and we are reminded of the benefit that the Cubs don’t have a lot of decisions to make on the roster right now.
  • When it comes to the leadoff decision, Hoyer mentioned Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ, and Albert Almora (but not Kyle Schwarber, though to be sure, it’s Joe Maddon’s decision) as guys who’ve come forward and expressed an interest and willingness to do it. Hoyer says that comfort in that spot is among the biggest thing they’ll be look for this Spring. More specifically, Hoyer says he wants to see guys who don’t change their approach just because they’re leading off (this is arguably the problem Kyle Schwarber had last season, and perhaps why Hoyer left him out). He explained how Dexter Fowler was still the same Dexter Fowler when he was moved to the middle of the order for the Cardinals last season, and how that’s the mark of the right approach. “What you really need is a guy who can lead off and not impact the way they play.”

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami