9/26 Hoyer: “We have to get better”
At this point in the season, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer would prefer to be sweating over last-minute postseason travel plans than scheduling meetings to evaluate the roster and coaching staff.
“When you’re not in the playoffs — you hate when you’re not — but when you’re not in the playoffs it’s a really good planning time,” Hoyer said.
For example, Josh Vitters started at third Wednesday. He’s one of the many prospects being looked at for next season. The results so far have been mixed.
“Some have shown a lot and some have done enough to not earn a position with the team but strong consideration for the winter,” Hoyer said. “Some have indicated they need more seasoning and starting next year [at Triple-A Iowa] would be the best. It is a mixed bag. Every guy who’s come up hasn’t shown we need to reserve a spot for him next season but that’s to be expected. We need to get better next year and having depth at Triple-A is important. A lot of those guys may feel they’re ready but if they start the year at Iowa, that’s probably a positive for our roster.”
Hoyer knows first-hand that some players take a little longer. He promoted Anthony Rizzo to the big leagues last season with the Padres, and watched the first baseman struggle to hit .141.
“That first time in the big leagues, I think it’s really difficult to evaluate,” Hoyer said. “I’ve had a number of players tell me the butterflies don’t go away that first time up, they’re nervous all the time, they have a hard time calming themselves down. Maybe the second time, the third time they come up, it’s like, ‘OK, I belong here.’ It’s hard to evaluate a guy when he’s nervous. It’s hard to blame them sometimes. This is their dream, they’re up for the first time, the game is faster. Sometimes those things can snowball. It did with Rizzo last year.”
The Cubs do have a significant amount of money coming off the books and it could be a busy offseason.
“We will have financial flexibility,” Hoyer said. “We’ve been diligent to make sure we do have flexibility and we’re efficient going forward. We’ll obviously be active in the free agent market. That’s a big part of our research and work now is evaluating free agents. We have some money to spend and we’ll focus on it heavily.”
Hoyer isn’t looking at the Cubs record this year.
“People in every walk of life focus on round numbers,” Hoyer said. “One hundred losses is a round number. I’m not going to feel any better about a 96-loss season or a 98-loss season or a 100-loss season. In any way, shape or form, we have to get better. I don’t want to lose 100 games either. That’s something people talk about and it’s a round number we clearly want to avoid. If we avoid it, it doesn’t mean I’ll feel better about our season. We have to get better. That’s the focus.”
— Carrie Muskat