The Surprising Hoerner Decision, Give Bote a Shot, and Other Cubs Bullets

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The Surprising Hoerner Decision, Give Bote a Shot, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Recently finished ‘Astrophysics for People in a Hurry‘ by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I *highly* recommend to anyone who is space-nerd-adjacent, and who wants to learn more about the nitty gritty, but who wants it in a brief, accessible, entertaining way. Easily the best descriptions and discussions of dark matter and dark energy that I’ve seen, for example. Finally felt like I “got it.”

•   As Michael explored last night, I don’t think there’s a one, singular reason for the decision on Hoerner, which is why it was surprising. On the one hand, Hoerner is a Gold Glove-caliber defender on a team that really needs great defense. He has significant offensive upside, and maybe he’s a rare guy who can develop well in the big leagues without much minor league experience. Moreover, there isn’t a traditional Triple-A experience for him in April, so why not get him that game action in April in the big leagues – at least taking advantage of that glove – and then reassess where he’s at/what he needs in May? I’d landed on thinking this is what the Cubs were going to do.

•   … on the other hand, Hoerner’s offensive performance this Spring doesn’t necessarily tell you more than his real season last year, when he really struggled at the plate. He has so little minor league experience that it’s not at all weird for a guy at his level to see time at Triple-A (where he has yet to play). And then there are the roster-related considerations, which are probably where you could beef if you wanted (i.e., optioning Hoerner helps the Cubs be able to keep guys like Eric Sogard (minor league deal with opt-out), Ildemaro Vargas (out of options), and/or an extra reliever (some on minor league deals, some out of options). I don’t love the idea of the Cubs picking a lesser option at second base so that they can keep more depth in the organization, but then again, it’s not as if they can’t change course in a few weeks and bring Hoerner back and ditch someone else. If you go the other way – and lose Sogard and Vargas in the process – you can’t change course in a few weeks, because they’re gone.

•   It will also help if the Cubs “Triple-A” team at the alt site gets to play games against other organizations, as it appears they will.

•   One part of the Hoerner decision that I don’t want to see lost is the idea that David Bote is also an important player for the next few years of this organization, also has significant offensive upside, and also deserves a shot to see more regular action so that you can know what you have in him. I understand that optioning Hoerner is partly about getting to keep a guy like Sogard and/or Vargas on the roster, and I also understand that each of those guys could do some things to help the Cubs. But now that the Hoerner decision has been made, I’m very much on the “start Bote almost every day” train. That’ll come mostly at second base because of the opening, but obviously he can also coordinate with Kris Bryant at third base if/when Bryant moves to the outfield against lefties. Bote should get at LEAST 4-5 starts per week while Hoerner is down. Give him a real shot.

•   Last thing on the Hoerner decision: I really don’t get the service time manipulation talk. This is a guy who came up late in 2019 straight from AA despite almost no minor league experience because the Cubs needed to fill a hole at shortstop. And then he was up for the entirety of the shortened 2020 season despite his struggles. If the Cubs were obsessed with getting an extra year of control, he would’ve been sent down for a couple weeks last year to the alternate site. It would’ve been extremely easy, and unquestioned. But the Cubs didn’t do that because (1) his glove was still helping, and (2) they thought it was better for his development than being at the alternate site. Clearly, their decisions on Hoerner last year weren’t about service time. And so now suddenly … they’re gonna send him down for FIVE+ weeks to get an extra year? Come on. Silly. All the reasons above are the reasons.

•   Oh wait, one more last thing – the spring numbers don’t really tell us anything useful when you’re talking about 30 to 40 at bats in fake games, and even if they did … all of Hoerner, Bote, and Sogard have OPS between 1.020 and 1.070. Heh. They’re all “raking.” And it doesn’t really matter. Hopefully the Cubs get a nice long look at Bote, hopefully Sogard provides decent contact and versatility off of the bench, and hopefully Hoerner gets some additional development time, and hopefully the best solution long-term presents itself over the next few months (both for the rest of 2021 and beyond).

•   As for Ildemaro Vargas, who is out of options, this seems to suggest the Cubs are seriously thinking about carrying him, too, on the bench. I love his grind, his versatility, and his switch-hitting, but I wonder if he’s going to get enough time to actually show whether he can contribute or not, given the presence of Sogard and Bote. Has always raked at Triple-A.

•   Mic’d up Rizzo goodness:

•   David Ross cautioning against becoming too reliant on the instant-availability of video tech is a good point:

•   If you don’t guess right, it is impossible to hit either of these pitches (and even if you do guess right on his changeup, which might be the best pitch in baseball, you probably aren’t hitting it):

•   Blenders, toys, car accessories and more are your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Vandy stud Jack Leiter followed up his no-hitter by throwing … another seven no-hit innings:

•   The Cubs should really trade up for this kid. Ah. Wait. Can’t even have fun conversations about trading up in the draft, because no trading regular draft picks in MLB.

•   Get in on the promos today while you have a chance:

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.