Jed Hoyer Speaks, Tweets: No Captain's "C" for Rizzo, Keuchel's Comments, Twitter Takeover, More

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Jed Hoyer Speaks, Tweets: No Captain’s “C” for Rizzo, Keuchel’s Comments, Twitter Takeover, More

Chicago Cubs

This week, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer sat down with David Kaplan to discuss, among many things, the front office’s thought process this winter and the Cubs performance this Spring.

You can check out the full recording here, but we’ll cover some of the highlights, alongside some thoughts of my own, below.

Additionally, Hoyer did a Twitter take-over of the @Cubs accounts, so I’ll include some of those questions and answers at the end. Cool? Cool.

  • From Hoyer’s perspective camp has been great this year. Although he’s happy that everyone seems extremely focused, he’s thankful for Joe Maddon and Tim Buss, because they keep it really fun and light, too.
  • Hoyer doesn’t necessarily think it’s fair to hold the current starting rotation to the standards set by the 2016 group, because they were extremely lucky health-wise and were assisted by an historic defense. However, Hoyer did say that with some breaks, this current group can flip the switch to “exceptional.” He also likes that, with Tyler Chatwood and Yu Darvish, the Cubs have the sort of power pitching the rotation has been lacking in recent years. I’ll add that they did the same thing in the bullpen, adding Brandon Morrow and Justin Wilson, who both throw in the mid-to-upper 90s.
  • Speaking of the bullpen, Hoyer thinks that what we saw and what was written about them at the end of the year was an unfair representation of the bullpen’s performance. “We actually had a pretty good year in the bullpen, and I think they got really tired. When they got tired, they didn’t throw enough strikes.” Hoyer went onto explain that the goal of this offseason, then, was to grab strike throwers however they could. And, as we now know, they accomplished that entirely though free agency: Morrow, Steve Cishek, and Brian Duensing are coming into the season as the three best strike throwers in the pen.
  • David Kaplan said that he’s heard from guys that the “pitching infrastructure” has improved a lot since the current front office was put into place, and he asked Hoyer to explain what that really means. According to Hoyer, “I think that’s everything that goes into run prevention. So it’s defensive positioning, it’s the defenders, it’s the game plan, it’s working with the catchers. Pitching is not just throwing the ball to home plate. Pitching is everything that goes into it.” Hoyer went on to liken it to a team defense in basketball – in other words, there are a lot of moving parts that have to come together for it to work, not just the individual performance of one player.
  • Kaplan then asked whose decision is it, ultimately, to decide which pitch is coming next? And according to Hoyer, Run Prevention Coordinator Tommy Hottovy, Pitching Coach Jim Hickey, and Catching Coach Mike Borzello come together with a plan and deliver that plan to the catcher of the day. That catcher, for the most part, will follow that plan, but there’s plenty of wiggle room. “We have some pitchers that watch a lot of film also, and they have some opinions on the mound, and in a certain situation they may deviate.” The way Hoyer sees it, the catcher is giving his suggestion, but the decision comes down to the pitcher and they have to be comfortable with whatever they’re throwing. Thus, they can throw whatever they like.
  • Changing the subject, Kaplan asks if the Cubs would ever put a captain’s “C” on Anthony Rizzo’s chest (if you recall, he asked Theo Epstein the same question, and Epstein wasn’t really for it (for good reasons)). But what about Hoyer? “You know, we haven’t talked about it a lot. [But] I don’t love that representation. People know.” Hoyer really drove it home that everyone in the Cubs organization just knows that Rizzo is the captain, and they don’t need a letter to point that out. Indeed, he repeated it multiple times, “People know.”
  • Kaplan brought up Dallas Keuchel’s comments that the Astros were “not the Cubs” and weren’t going to be hungover this year, after winning the World Series in 2017. Hoyer’s response? “You know, I think our guys said the same thing last year.” Hoyer added that he respects that mentality, though, even if it bit the Cubs in the butt last year. “I don’t get offended by that kind of stuff. That’s okay.” Hoyer did briefly mention that some of the players caught wind of those comments, and let’s just say they’d love to play the Astros. The Cubs will see the Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals, and White Sox during the regular season this year, but they will not face the Astros, you know … unless.
  • Finally, Hoyer said he hopes the Cubs get off to a hot start this season (specifically in April), because it’s a bit easier to escape the “gravitational pull” of .500 when you create separation early.

And now for the Twitter take-over stuff.

Before we get going, I just want to point out that you can check out all of the questions and answers by following the thread from that tweet above.

Okay, here’s the good stuff:

  • Starting with a good old fashioned bleacher-debate:

  • Hoyer’s response? “A hot dog is not a sandwich.” And I’m dying of laughter. Great response from Jed, but I know, if he answered, he would say once the first batter comes back up to the plate BECAUSE NO ONE SAYS THEY BATTED AROUND IF THE NINTH GUY GETS OUT BEFORE THE FIRST BATTER OF THE INNING HITS AGAIN (trying my hardest to troll Brett here).
  • On how it feels to break the curse and win a World Series in Chicago, Hoyer responded …

  • I thought this was a particularly good question, and worthy of the video response:

  • Heh …

  • Sorry/thanks, Jed:

  • Asked what his favorite trade has been, Hoyer picked acquiring Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop from the Orioles. Not only because they both turned out to be, you know, excellent, but also because they came to the Cubs at the *exact* right time in the rebuild. I can dig it.
  • Here’s another classic front office response:

  • Theo and Jed have maintained for YEARS that scouting and player makeup/personality still plays an enormous role with what they do. In fact, now that most teams are on the same page analytically (or close), that’s the one advantage some teams have left.
  • For those of you looking to break into the baseball operations world …

  • Hoyer answers a few more questions than that, so be sure to head to the @Cubs twitter account for more. For now, we’ll leave you with Hoyer signing off.

Author: Michael Cerami

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