Jed Hoyer Speaks: Darvish’s Plan, the Leadoff Spot, Heyward, Zobrist, Verlander-Regret, More

Earlier today, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer jumped on 670 The Score to discuss his team’s chances in the NL Central, the returning players, the trades they didn’t make (Justin Verlander), the offensive struggles, and a lot more.

You can catch the full interview right here, and it’s also embedded at the end of this post, but I’ll hit on the highlights below alongside some thoughts of my own. Enjoy.

  • “It’s been a weird year. I feel like in general, I’m pretty patient … but at some point you run out of season,” Hoyer said (I should just end the post right here).
  • But I wont … because Hoyer addresses the quick turnaround for Willson Contreras, which has me thinking they might have accelerated his return just a little bit: “It’s nice to get Willy back. I think he’s probably going to be in a situation where he’s playing his way back to 100%. We feel good about where he is … but it’ll probably take a little bit of time until he’s up and running fully.” I don’t want to read too much into that, but it sure sounds like Contreras is *not* 100% yet, but that the Cubs feel they’re better with him at something less than 100% than without. I’d tend to agree.
  • Hoyer is also excited to have Zobrist back and hopes he can lead by example with his approach at the plate, which provides something the team has been lacking all season. But while I think that’s all well and good, it also all just rings so hollow to me. Zobrist *might* contribute offensively (he also might not), but is he really going to “set an example” that can make a difference with 3-4 weeks left in the season? I don’t know.
  • I just don’t think the expectations on Zobrist should be that high, especially when Hoyer says stuff like this: “It’s a long routine to get his 38-year-old body to be able to perform in the big leagues ….” Hoyer may have been using that point to illustrate his work ethic, but it certainly and soberly reminds us that Zobrist is 38-years-old and hasn’t played since May, doesn’t it? He is not going to single-handedly save this team and his example-setting, while legitimate and important, particularly in the long-run, can only take you so far.
  • Moving on: “It’s impossible to say,” if leading off is the reason Jason Heyward started slumping after such a good offensive run earlier in the year. “I don’t know if that’s the leadoff spot or just a natural slump.” It’s easy to point out, Hoyer explains, that guys shouldn’t press or approach things differently as the leadoff hitter, but, he put simply: they do. Hoyer continued: “Since Dex left after ’16,” we haven’t been able to fill that role. “We do need to find someone going forward that’s comfortable there.”
  • As for the offense as a whole … Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, and Heyward have each had piping hot stretches this season according to Jed Hoyer, but each one of those guys has also had significant cold streaks, as well. The Cubs have not done a good enough job syncing some of those stretches up – and even if some of that is due to bad luck/timing, it’s a problem nonetheless.
  • He also sounds somewhat exhausted and bewildered by the continued issues with situational hitting and hitting with runners in scoring position. And that conversation turned into this:
  • Hoyer wisely stated that it feels like the Cubs are “less than the sum of their parts,” and added that, “Yeah,” the Cubs are running out of tie for the collective of their core to reach their potential.
  • Hoyer calls the Cubs’ issues against left-handed pitchers the most random but also fixable offensive struggles of the season: When I look at … guys like Almora, guys like Bote … these are guys that have always hit lefties in the past/their whole career. So that’s actually something I think is random.” Hoyer added that when you have a lineup with righties like Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Javy Baez (he forgot Nicholas Castellanos), you should be able to handle lefties just fine. But obviously they have not for the season as a whole.
  • Hoyer is “very high” on Jon Lester’s ability to turn things around tonight and the rest of the season. I like the optimism, so we’ll just leave that there and also hope for the best.
  • Yu Darvish “feels good,” and putting him on the IL was “definitely a precautionary move,” but Hoyer wouldn’t go as far as saying he’ll start on Saturday. “Certainly we’re hopeful.” Sigh. I just don’t love the sound of that. Hoyer concluded, “If not Saturday, then hopefully soon after Saturday.” OK.
  • I appreciate the honesty of this, I guess:
  • But if that has you pulling your hair out, allow me to make you feel better. According to Hoyer, the Cubs addition of Cole Hamels in 2018 was partially informed and influenced by Verlander’s late-career surge. But, still, Hoyer expressed some regret: “There’s ones that you beat yourself up over because you think, ‘What could we have seen differently?'”
  • written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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