Jed Hoyer Speaks: Timeline for Contention, Open Questions, Davis, Madrigal, More

Before the team he helped create lost its 10th straight game today, the culmination of a sweep by the Padres (his last organization), Cubs President Jed Hoyer spoke with the media about the state of things. You can see his thoughts here, here, here, here, and here, among other places. The full media availability is also embedded at the bottom of this post if you want to watch the whole thing, via Marquee.

Among Hoyer’s comments …

  • Things aren’t good. He feels the frustration. He battles the frustration, too. I’m not handwaving that stuff, but I think you already know that part. The Cubs hoped to be able to stay competitive-ish this year while building for 2023, and clearly, that’s not going to happen. Until this 9-then-10-game skid, however, Hoyer felt like the team was competitive, which is true in a sense (it’s what I talked about this morning – “competitive losses”). Not that he thought the Cubs had an acceptable record to that point, mind you, or that he was apologizing for the struggles. Just that the team was more competitive at that time, and things have been very different the last couple weeks.
  • Hoyer pushed back against the idea that he could precisely name the timeline for serious contention or that the recent deep struggles have impacted the hypothetical timeline, saying, “Trying to pretend that this current 9-game period has somehow changed that [timeline], I think it’d be the wrong thing. I know what I have a vision to build. I know what we built last time. And I have all the confidence in the world that we’re going to get there. But also, I’m aware that sometimes things speed up and sometimes things slow down and I am not smart enough to know which of those is going to happen. But I have the ultimate confidence we’re gonna be successful, just like I knew that same thing last time. Sometimes things speed up, and sometimes things slow down. I’m not smart enough to know when something is going to happen, but I do know, and have the ultimate confidence, that we’re going to be successful. I knew that same thing last time.”
  • Hoyer also wouldn’t say whether the timeline for winning felt further away than it did when the season started, because “I’ll have a better answer for that later in the season.” I could see Hoyer getting lit up for that comment, but he’s talking about the many data points we’re still trying to see sussed out over the course of the season – how good is Seiya Suzuki? Can Christopher Morel sustain this? Will more of the young pitching improve at the big league level and/or move up through the system? Can some guys get healthy and improve? Etc.
  • I also think he’s just adding on a variation of something I said earlier this month, though he didn’t get into it explicitly. To me, it doesn’t matter whether you call this a “rebuild” right now or not, in part because we’re gonna have a much better sense later this year:
  • For me? This might be a rebuild. Or at least something I would call a rebuild. But it might not be, and there are near-term data points that are going to better answer the question for me than anything Hoyer might say right now.

    Let me put it this way: if this isn’t a rebuild, the proof will be in the pudding very soon, because it will mean we aren’t looking at multiple full seasons of punting. Because once you get into that mode, it’s clearly a rebuild, by anyone’s definition, where you have decided you “cannot” succeed at the big league level until the wave of young prospects you’re accumulating actually arrive and succeed in the big leagues ….

    So, circling back to why I tend to think this whole conversation is pretty fruitless right now: it’s going to be an actions-have-to-speak-louder-than-words situation at the deadline this year, and in the offseason. If there are more moves like adding Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki types to CLEARLY supplement the 2023 team and try to win (MORE than this year), then, OK, I can see the merits and it’s not something I would call “a rebuild.” But if it’s another deadline of selling off for very young prospects, and then an offseason of signing mostly one-year, low-risk deals? It’ll be pretty hard to argue this isn’t another multi-year rebuild in the same vein as what came before.

  • There is also, of course, the question of *HOW MUCH MONEY* will be made available early in the offseason? To that one, I honestly don’t even know what to make of this (which was not about money, to be clear, but when you bring in the mentions of the owner and the business president, it makes you think about the budget):
  • More on the timeline stuff, Hoyer talked about how tough the first rebuild was: “You can’t pretend that those first three years weren’t really difficult emotionally, you know? And so sometimes when something ends up being a real positive, you kind of sugarcoat what the experience was like [to get there]. So, I’ve had a lot of those thoughts, trying to remember back to how I actually felt at that point.” It sucked. That’s how it felt. But the difference was it felt quite a bit more necessary back then, and everyone was more or less on the same page. This time around? Who even knows what this offseason is going to look like, much less 2023.
  • As discussed earlier, Hoyer isn’t placing blame on manager David Ross for the struggles of the team, when you consider the context of what he’s been dealing with (Hoyer was talking about injury/availability issues, but I think it’s fair to also include the roster, itself).
  • Hoyer talked about the Brennen Davis injury/surgery situation, and you did get the sense in the way he talked about it that they really did feel good about the outcome. It sucks that he’ll miss the year, but the way Hoyer discussed things, it sounds like the Cubs were really at a loss for what was going on – which sounds scary! – and the surgery revealing what it did was a “best case scenario.”
  • On Nick Madrigal, Hoyer said that it’s possible the long rehab and the injuries this year fed into some “bad habits” – in terms of performance – that have impacted his ability to be productive. And without the ability to stay on the field consistently, he hasn’t had a chance to get into a rhythm. How to address that problem, however, was not something Hoyer got into. We discussed the possibility of Madrigal spending time at Iowa earlier today. But Hoyer still came off as optimistic on what Madrigal will be with the Cubs (eventually?), because, paraphrasing, he is a guy who has never not hit.
  • No surprise, Hoyer wouldn’t get into any Willson Contreras extension or trade specifics.
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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