Jed Hoyer Speaks: Happ Coming, Bryant Fine, Russell's Role, Hamels, Zobrist, Descalso, More

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Jed Hoyer Speaks: Happ Coming, Bryant Fine, Russell’s Role, Hamels, Zobrist, Descalso, More

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer just spoke with McNeil and Parkins on 670 The Score about all things Cubs on what he called a good off-day to regroup with a series of big series coming up.

I did my best to take faithful notes below on what Hoyer said (paraphrased), and I’ll include the audio here as soon as it’s available. (The I’s and We’s below are from Hoyer.) (UPDATE: Full audio here, and also embedded at the bottom of this post.)

  • Confirms Happ is coming up for the game tomorrow, but can’t tell the corresponding roster move – wouldn’t be fair to other player involved, because this leaked out early. (Me: Does that mean it’s a demotion coming for a guy like Albert Almora? A move involving Daniel Descalso? Or Cubs holding out for possibility of some other move?)
  • Happ knew this was about making big adjustments. We’ve been in communication with him a ton, he stayed upbeat, this is his best stretch, and we felt like this was the time to do it. He’s been great, and hopefully he can perform like he has in the past.
  • The way pitchers were attacking him last year, he had to adjust to get on top of some balls a little better from the left side. He’s been consistent from the right side this year, but the left side, we were most focused on. Feels like it’s been bearing fruit the last three, four weeks.
  • Ultimately up to Joe Maddon where Happ will play, in the outfield and/or at second base. Probably primarily in the outfield.
  • Some guys beat themselves up when they fail, some guys tinker when they fail, sometimes guys ruminate on it. But sometimes you just have to be OK with going 1 for 15 or whatever and just stay the course. It’s OK to be cerebral and want to understand what’s happening, but sometimes you have to work not to make changes.
  • We love the defense Addison Russell provides, he’s still a valuable part of the team. But he had a bad stretch. Some scuffling at the plate. But more than that, he had been struggling mentally, disengaged in some games. Can’t have that. The margin for error in this division is so small. Giving him some time in Iowa to regroup and work on his focus is the right thing to do.
  • I don’t think Russell doesn’t care or isn’t into it; but the mental mistakes, we can’t have. Not knowing signs, we can’t have. He cares a great deal. (Me: Hoyer didn’t want to trash Russell right now. That was clear.)
  • Nothing off the field that is alarming with Russell right now (i.e., so that isn’t the focus issue).
  • It is the plan for Russell to be back at some point, but he’s down there to work. He’s a great defender, and what we could do late in games with his defense would be great. The offense ceiling is high. But this year has been frustrating.
  • Kris Bryant should be fine. We expect him to play tomorrow. There shouldn’t be any alarm bells too loud.
  • David Bote can play shortstop if needed. Not ideal, but he can do it. If there was a significant Baez injury, we’d have to make a move. But one game, Bote can do it.
  • People around baseball, you talk to them, and no one knows what to expect. It’s a weird market, especially in the NL, so many teams hovering in and around .500 and contention. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder for those teams. Maybe you think you’re about to make a run. Maybe you think you’re worse than that. The morass in the middle of the NL is probably what makes things so tricky.
  • I would not say anything is imminent. We’re working on things. It takes a deadline to get things done. Sometimes you get things done early (happy to get Maldonado early, also Kimbrel), but people wait, so many teams are waiting – even just to see how they do this weekend.
  • Our depth this year hasn’t been what we’re used to. It’s really frustrating to have at bats that you feel like you have empty lineup spots or weak pinch-hitting match-ups. Some of that you can improve internally – mostly it would mean guys turning things around. But we’re going to continue to look to bolster.
  • Internally, we can probably bolster the bullpen – Rowan Wick came in for specific love.
  • We only have six more days to make external trades, so we’re gonna have to do as much as we can in these six days. After that, it’s all internal. So the focus right now is external.
  • Cautiously optimistic that Zobrist will come back. We miss his gravitas, leadership, and at bats. We would love to have him back. I don’t have anything definitive to add. Hopefully we’ll know very soon. It’s on his timetable and we respect that. But to come back this year, the wheels would have to get in motion soon. No specific announcement now.
  • We’re going to have to play very well over the next two months to win this division. It will help to have the rotation back in place.
  • Cole Hamels will do another rehab start this weekend, and then hopefully come back.
  • Descalso is a great teammate and has had a great career. But he got a little banged up, led to some bad habits, and he’s struggled. We still believe in him. Guys like him can turn it around. We love having him on the team as a veteran leader. Keeps guys focused. From an offensive standpoint, his role has been reduced from what we expected.
  • I think it’s feasible to carry three catchers. Willson is an All-Star. Maldonado is such a great catchers, thinks through the game so well. Victor is a great bat off the bench, and is improving as a catcher. We have a lot of roster issues to talk through over the next six days, so I can’t say I know for sure how things will look at the end of that. But it’s feasible to carry three.
  • I hope Brandon Morrow will pitch this season. It’s been a frustrating process of ramp ups and ramp downs. We can probably endure only one more, as he ramps up now. He’s an X factor at this point. He could be really good, but with the deadline here, we have to approach things not expecting he’ll come. He’s working hard and if it happens, he could really help this team. We just have to be realistic.
  • The bullpen looks a lot different than we expected, but that’s also just kind of the nature of bullpens. Relievers are volatile. As you acquire them, sometimes you get a Jesse Chavez (dominant) and sometimes you get a Brandon Kintzler (bad last year). But you look at Kintzler this year, and you see he’s still very good. Sometimes it just happens like that in the bullpen.
  • Because we’re the Cubs, in any big market, you use those teams to get the word out there. So we get linked to an inordinate number of players. Most of it is clickbait. Yeah, some of it is legitimate. But when teams really want to get something together, they try not to talk about it. So much of what is out there is like the NFL Draft – mostly propaganda. A lot of it is misinformation, and/or to get a rise out of another team.

Full audio:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.