Jed Hoyer Speaks: When to Pull the Trigger on Buy-Sell, Lack of Walks, Returns from Injury, Pitching, More

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Jed Hoyer Speaks: When to Pull the Trigger on Buy-Sell, Lack of Walks, Returns from Injury, Pitching, More

Chicago Cubs

Every loss makes Chicago Cubs President Jed Hoyer’s path a little more clear. I won’t say it makes his job easier, though, because even if all the losing ultimately compels him to sell off later this month without the dour optics of a white flag, it will still be incumbent upon him to actually net good returns for anything moved. But I guess he could probably start making some phone calls to optimize the market?

Not that he’s going to tell the public he’s in sell mode just yet.

Some of Hoyer’s recent comments to the media, which you can read here, here, here, and here, among other places …

⇒ On when he’ll really have to move toward buying or selling: “The honest answer to that is July 30 [aka the actual Trade Deadline]. I think we have to prepare. We have to have a lot of internal discussions. But it doesn’t mean you make a decision on either side of the ledger before that. We do have all that time, in some ways. But in terms of preparation, obviously internally, we have to make sure that we’re prepared to do both and prepare to make the best decisions as an organization.” Say what?!?!, you exclaim. He’s not going to decide until the last day?!?!

⇒ Relaaaaaxxxx. For two reasons. First, he added this about the July 30 deadline: “Obviously things can happen before then.” That really is the underscored point, because it can refer to everything. A move could pop up to be made before July 30 to which the Cubs simply can’t say no. The team could go on a crazy run out of nowhere and force some buying in the final week of the month. And so on. The point, from my perspective, is that while Hoyer correctly says that nothing need be done until July 30, things can happen before that. You just have to stay nimble. And in the meantime, there was never a chance that Hoyer was going to confirm, publicly, that the Cubs were definitely selling until it was absolutely and completely over.

⇒ For a second reason to relax: different versions of Hoyer’s original quote have him saying (emphasis added), “The honest answer to that is July 30. We have to prepare and we have to have internal discussions a lot. It doesn’t mean you can’t make a decision on either side of the ledger before that …. ” The double negative there, which some versions of the quote have and some don’t, would simply mean that, although the Cubs don’t have to pull any triggers until July 30 (obviously), that DOESN’T mean they won’t MAKE A DECISION on whether to be buyers or sellers before then. Which, again, obviously. So the Cubs might make an internal decision long before July 30 and start operating in that direction. In fact I presume that they will. Too much of the long-term future is riding on the sell decision if you go that route, and the execution cannot be left to just the final day or two of the month.

⇒ I stand by what I’ve said: just get to the All-Star break and then see what’s what. Not only will you be all the closer to the deadline at that point, with another week’s worth of information and games in the standings, but you’ll also be past the draft. That will allow the market of buyers and sellers to more fully develop, with a total focus on the deadline. It’s easy for one or two teams to be there already at this point, but if you actually want teams to commit to deals, you usually need the whole market involved because of all the outward ripples.

⇒ On feeling the urgency to win every day, but not letting that move your entire plan day-by-day: “I think there’s a sense of urgency. These guys are aware of the importance of this month and the importance of digging into that lead. You can’t make that up with a snap of the fingers, but you have to gradually claw back in some games and start playing well. I think you have to see the big picture and look at it that way. You can’t go up and down or buy and sell with every game or every two games. It’s not the way to make good decisions …. But you take a step back and try to assess things as it relates to the larger picture.” That includes looking into the near-term future and being honest about whether you can really make a run for the division in August and September.

⇒ The ugly month came with so many things to bug you, but it was a lack of walks that really got to Hoyer: “Of all the things I’m frustrated with over the course of the month is the lack of walks. Probably guys are trying to swing their way out of slumps a little bit and I think that got us in some trouble. I like the fact that at the end, we started drawing some walks. We have to continue to do that. We’re probably not gonna be a very high batting average team. If we’re still gonna be a high on-base team, we have to be able to work counts and draw walks and we didn’t do that very well in June at all.” Recall that walks are not something you can seek to achieve – or, at least, they aren’t something you should try to achieve – they are an artifact of quality at bats, good pitch recognition, and a good approach. So when the walks disappear, it’s doubly bad: not only are you losing that bump in times reaching base, but it is also a sign that guys are not working good plate appearances overall. Such was true for the Cubs, without question.

⇒ On missing Nico Hoerner and Matt Duffy over the past month+: “We played better, clearly, offensively when those guys are in the lineup. There’s a lot more contact and we were able to have some rallies and score runs without homers. I also don’t want to put too much into that. We need to be able to compete when we have injuries to anyone. If we lose a couple contact guys and all of a sudden we’re not a functional offense, that’s a problem. I’m excited to hopefully get Nico back soon and Duffy after that, but we can’t view that as a panacea.” That’s certainly true for Duffy, who might not even return before the decisive month of July is over. And with Hoerner, he’s still basically a rookie who shouldn’t have to shoulder the load of transforming an offense that has otherwise looked like this for years now.

⇒ On the maybe unrealistic expectations the bullpen created through its own success earlier this year: “Those 50-50 games in the 7th and 8th innings — we won all of them because we didn’t give up any runs in the bullpen. That’s not reality. You’re gonna give up runs. Our bullpen is still excellent. You can’t rely on never giving up runs late in the game as a recipe to win.” In other words, sometimes the Cubs have to score runs late. And they just haven’t.

⇒ On the question of whether Keegan Thompson and/or Justin Steele could be stretched out to start: “We’ve been having those discussions. I think both have the repertoire to do it. I actually really like breaking guys in through the bullpen because I think a lot of times in that role they realize they can get big-league hitters out and a lot of times they realize, ‘Hey, I can carry my stuff for longer than one or two innings.’ I do think both guys can do it and we have had discussions. We have nothing to announce, but are there discussions ongoing? Absolutely.”



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.