Between Yu Darvish’s season ending, Kris Bryant ramping back up, Brandon Morrow undergoing more tests, trading for Daniel Murphy, sending Addison Russell to the disabled list, watching three NL Central teams take hold of playoff spots, and hoping Cole Hamels continues to be the guy he’s been since joining the team … the Cubs have a LOT going on right now.
Oh, plus the baseball games.
Fortunately, Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer jumped on 670 The Score this morning to discuss all of this and more with Mully and Haugh. You can catch the full interview for yourself right here:
Among the highlights, alongside some thoughts of my own:
- Hoyer seems to have been as frustrated about that five-game solo-homer streak as anybody else, but mentions that it was nothing new. “We’ve been struggling to score runs for two-three weeks now, and hopefully last night was a start.” Hoyer continued by saying that the Cubs can’t keep squeaking out wins one to nothing, so something’s gotta change.
- And, of course, one of the changes they made was the addition of Daniel Murphy. And yet, the Cubs didn’t expect it. According to Hoyer, more players have been blocked on waivers before getting to the Cubs this season than most years he can remember (note: the Cubs have more or less had the same spot on the August waiver wire for four straight seasons). So he was very surprised to learn that Murphy got them. And then he was even more pleased to find out that the Nationals were actually open and willing to make something work. “I guess they got to the point … where it was time to make that move.”
- Hoyer also mentioned that although there’s always room, and it’s always “time” to add a bat like Murphy’s to the lineup, the recent struggles and injuries made it just about perfect timing for the Cubs. You can tell he believes they really needed Murphy.
- On Yu Darvish’s lost season, Hoyer admits that despite Darvish’s diligent work, there was always a concern that he wouldn’t come back this season. Which … OK. To be clear, Hoyer dropped that pretty casually, so I’m not sure it’s as dramatic as I originally took it, but – “We were aware that there was a chance he wasn’t going to be able to make it back” – never felt like an expectation coming from the front office. It was on the table in the sense that any injury pitcher might not come back, but it always felt like it was going to happen until the final setback.
- With that said, Hoyer said the team is happy to finally get a diagnosis that makes sense, because Darvish had been experiencing “unusual” symptoms, making everything that much more difficult to plan around. Even when they were making progress, Hoyer explains, there were random, tiny set-backs that were confusing and, I’m sure, frustrating. As far as next year goes, Hoyer believes that the extended rest should be able to heal him fully before the start of next season.
- As far as making another waiver wire pickup, particularly in the starting rotation, Hoyer said “We have eight more days to make moves, and we’ll continue to look at what’s available.” But added that there’s that unusually “limited supply” of guys, because of how active various teams have been, so it’ll be hard to do so.
- Hoyer admits that it’s been a slow process for Brandon Morrow, but the Cubs are still hoping to have him back to his usual, dominant self before the end of the season. And frankly, in my opinion, that’s all that really matters. I believe the Cubs bullpen and the team in general can hold things down well enough to get into the playoffs. All I really want is Morrow back by October. I’m hoping for so much more than that, but I could argue that’s all the Cubs really need out of him at this point.
- I thought Hoyer’s comments on Addison Russell were particularly revealing and interesting: “He’s been playing so banged up [Hoyer cites his finger, shoulder, and hip as current issues] … and he’s done such a commendable job playing through injuries and we’ve talked about it so many different nights after the game, that this guy’s out there for his defense, he’s out there playing for us, but he’s certainly not playing … not even close to 100%. I think it’s affected his numbers.” Hoyer went on to say that Russell has “gone to the post” for us and played when he probably shouldn’t have been playing.
- Well, then. Maybe that changes the calculus of his season a bit, particularly as you consider how well he was hitting before his finger injury. Then again, chronic injuries are part of the story for certain guys, so, well, it’s just a lot to take in and consider. My gut is that with Javy Baez and Daniel Murphy in the fold, Russell might not see a ton of starts when he comes back in 10 days (especially if Kris Bryant comes back). Though I suppose we’ll see. [Brett: Then after this season, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Cubs consider moving Russell, and, if so, whether this is the storyline about his production that they push.]
- When asked about the future of Joe Maddon, whose contract ends after next season, Hoyer responded curiously. It was a bit of a roundabout answer, but, in short, he mentioned that Maddon’s done a commendable job during a rough season, and now isn’t really the time to discuss such matters. I don’t think Hoyer was implying something vaguely sinister, but it’s clear the front office isn’t going to go over the top in laying out their expectations for Maddon’s contract situation right now with the playoffs looming. I tend to think this will be a big storyline this offseason unless/until it’s put to bed with an extension.
- The Cubs still believe in Tyler Chatwood in “the big picture,” but Hoyer admits that giving him any meaningful innings right now is tough. (I wonder who’ll start tomorrow …).