Chicago Cubs 2020 Opening Camp Press Conference (LIVE UPDATES)

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Chicago Cubs 2020 Opening Camp Press Conference (LIVE UPDATES)

Chicago Cubs

Today, Cubs pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona and although that’s undoubtedly the highlight of the week, the opening press conference is a usually very important. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and David Ross are at the mic, and I’ll update live as things roll in.

Listen along live at ESPN 1000.

(NOTE: These are not *direct* quotes, but I’m doing my best on the fly to transcribe what was said).

  • David Ross claims that a number of players are theoretically available at leadoff, but Anthony Rizzo is viable option to start the year (Michael: Given his success there in the past, I don’t know why he wouldn’t be considered as the first option).
  • Theo Epstein concedes that the trend of the offseason has allowed Spring Training moves to linger well into camp, and the Cubs do plan to make some more marginal moves, but it sounds like the big moves could be done. He also admits that they probably did less this offseason than they had initially hoped.

  • Theo: The Kris Bryant rumors were a bit overblown, but the Cubs were legitimately open to moving anybody, so I wasn’t surprised by the reporting. He also says there are no hard feelings:

  • Ross: I value a professional at-bat. I will put an emphasis in that throughout the season, as well as in Spring Training. Strikeouts are a part of the game, but I value a professional at-bat.

  • Theo on behind the scenes development changes: We tried to rebuild the Cubs [on the backend] as if we were coming into a new situation, not as though we were changing on the fly.
  • Theo has not seen the latest PECOTA projections, after hearing that it was 85 (one more than last year) he says he’s not surprised: Our underlying metrics suggested we were closer to a 90-win team, so I’m not surprised we were projected to win one more than we won last year (84).

  • Epstein respects Kris Bryant for going through with the grievance, even though it wasn’t easy for him.
  • Hoyer: There’s going to be a lot of competition in the bullpen this spring. I think about how a lot of the best bullpens evolve over the course of the year and I think that’s going to happen [here]. It brings me back to our bullpens of 2014 and 2015 when we didn’t have a lot of established guys, but those bullpens were still really good. I think the guys we brought in we like a lot. I totally trust Tommy Hottovy, Chris Young, and Brad Mills to bring those guys along. Bullpens have high volatility whether they’re established guys or not.
  • In addition to Rizzo at leadoff, Ross expectedly calls Kimbrel the closer.

  • Ross discussed how preparation might be slightly different this year, including upping the intensity during live batting practice:

  • Theo: We were open to considering trades with any of our players if it made our organization better. It was a pretty slow trade market – aside from the big trade this week. But we didn’t want to force deals and we didn’t find any that we were comfortable with this offseason.
  • Theo: Our players are genuinely excited about some of the changes, our new environment, and having Rossy here. Anytime you fall short of expectations you want to go out and prove yourself.
  • Ross on some of the younger players in camp still looking to break through:

  • David Ross intends to reward the hustle, the smart plays, the effort. Based on his experiences that sort of positive reinforcement from your manager goes a long way.
  • David Ross was happy that Kris Bryant wasn’t traded (duh), but he relies on and trusts Epstein and Hoyer to make those decisions, given their track-record he stays out of that area:

  • Ross: I think the players know things are going to be a little different this year, but we’ll talk about that over the next couple weeks as guys come in.
  • Ross doesn’t intend to change too much with respect to Bryant: he’s going to be our third baseman.
  • Ross: We’ll see [if I move things around as much Joe Maddon], but surely I’ll look at all the numbers and work with R&D to make those decisions. Traditionally, I do like a standard/set lineup. I think the rhythm of that over the course of a season is important.


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is the butler to a wealthy werewolf off the coast of Wales and a writer at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami