Results tagged ‘ Jed Hoyer ’

11/7 Cubs prep for GM meetings

Even before Joe Maddon was hired as manager, the Cubs were rumored to be on the verge of signing nearly every free agent on the market. They do have money to spend but that doesn’t mean they’re going on a shopping spree this winter.

“One of the challenges we have right now is that we’re literally linked to every single free agent,” GM Jed Hoyer said Friday. “Some of that is agent driven to try to connect us to everyone because they realize we have some payroll flexibility. We’ve said all along if the right things line up, we could have an active offseason. We’re not going to force it.

“A lot of the reports we read make it seem we’re going to have some kind of a super-charged offseason and I think that’s over-stated,” he said.

The Cubs are in the market for starting pitching and are interested in upgrading other positions, including catcher. But Hoyer would neither confirm or deny reports that they had met with free agent catcher Russell Martin. Welington Castillo did well behind the plate in his second full season as the regular catcher but he struggled offensively, batting .237, which has prompted the Martin-to-Cubs talk.

“We want veteran leadership on the team, whether that’s one person or three or four people, so if we can find that combination of attributes that’s something that would be appealing,” Hoyer said. “All of that said, I don’t think ‘Welly’ had his best year last year, but I think he’s a good Major League catcher and showed in the second half of 2013 what he can do. Certainly we like ‘Welly’ as a catcher and as a person and as a potential leader down the road.”

Hoyer will be in Arizona on Monday for the GM meetings, and the chance to not only go over issues such as pace of game but also see if anyone matches up trade-wise.

“It’s always a really delicate balancing process,” Hoyer said regarding acquiring players through free agency compared to making deals. “Sometimes there might be a better fit in trade than free agency but you have to balance what you give up in talent and on your team to get that player you have to trade for.

“Sometimes that player you’re trading for is much cheaper than the player in free agency, and that helps you justify it,” he said in a conference call with beat writers. “But, candidly, if both of those players are exactly the same cost, and you have to give up talent to get one, and you don’t have to give up talent to sign the free agent, I think that often tips the scales over the course of the winter.”

The Cubs also feel the free agent market isn’t as deep in terms of overall talent and it’s tough to address a lot of holes on the roster that way. That could prompt more trades.

Despite another last place finish in the Central, Hoyer said the Cubs feel good heading into the offseason.

“We finished the season strong,” Hoyer said. “Our farm system and young talent has gotten a lot of recognition. We had good momentum going into the offseason anyway and people were starting to take notice. With Joe coming on board, it underscored that we had momentum, and that we’re a team that while possibly not fully formed, is moving in the right direction and has a bright future. I think Joe’s presence here underscores and illuminates that more than anything else.

* Maddon has yet to finalize his coaching staff, although pitching coach Chris Bosio and hitting coach John Mallee are expected back. The staff was announced early last month, but that was before Rick Renteria was dismissed and Maddon was hired.

– Carrie Muskat

11/4 Here’s Jed, Joe and Theo

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GM Jed Hoyer, new manager Joe Maddon and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein at Monday’s news conference at the Cubby Bear.

8/29 Bryant to finish season at Iowa

Cubs fans eager to see Kris Bryant in the same lineup as Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro will have to wait. GM manager Jed Hoyer repeated that Bryant, the No. 1 prospect on MLB.com’s top 20 list, will finish his season at Triple-A Iowa and not be one of the players added when big league rosters expand on Monday.

Hoyer would not say which players will be called up. Iowa has four regular season games remaining and has a chance to make the playoffs.

Bryant, 22, batted .355 with 22 home runs and 20 doubles at Double-A Tennessee, and was batting .300 with 21 homers and 14 doubles in 66 games at Iowa. The second player taken overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, he is not on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

“He’s not on the roster, so right away [if he was called up] that would knock off another player off the roster,” Hoyer said Friday. “We’re going to be really tight with the roster, and we know that. We feel in his first full season, he’s going to get 140 plus games, he’s played exceptionally well — nothing has changed on that front [as far as calling him up].”

The fact that Bryant has done so well in his first year of professional baseball has made Cubs fans giddy about the prospect of seeing the third baseman at Wrigley Field.

“The most impressive thing about his season has been the consistency,” Hoyer said. “The slumps have been really quick. He deserves a lot of credit for being able to make adjustments quickly. I think he’s very level-headed as a person. He doesn’t get too down.

“We’ve never waivered on [the decision to leave him in the Minors],” Hoyer said. “We feel it’s the right thing for him — first full season, not on the roster, and we’ll enjoy the guys we have up here now.”

Are the Cubs hesitating to avoid starting the clock on Bryant’s service time? Hoyer said that wasn’t a factor.

“That’s not the reason or a concern,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

8/13 Extra bases

* GM Jed Hoyer said the front office is currently debating September call-ups and who will play in the Arizona Fall League. Triple-A Iowa outfielder Jorge Soler is one player being considered for both. Soler, ranked No. 6 on MLB.com’s list of top 20 Cubs prospects, was injured much of the first half of the season but has been getting regular at-bats, and was batting .300 in 20 games.

“[Soler] has been playing great, and is locked in now, and great at-bats, great attitude, playing good defense,” Hoyer said. “We have to decide if he’s had enough at-bats or not.”

C.J. Edwards, ranked No. 7 on the Cubs’ top 20 list, was expected to pitch in the AFL, which starts Oct. 7.

As for September call-ups, Hoyer said who gets promoted may depend on whether Iowa makes the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

“They worked hard down there,” Hoyer said. “We don’t want to raid them and leave them with nothing if they do make the playoffs.”

* The Cubs were encouraged by Felix Doubront’s first rehab start with Triple-A Iowa. Doubront threw 80 pitches over four plus innings on Tuesday night against Las Vegas. He has been on the disabled list since July 31 with a left calf strain. The left-hander will make at least one more start for Iowa.

* Outfielder Justin Ruggiano did not start Wednesday because of some soreness in his right groin, but he was available to pinch-hit. Ruggiano was pulled from Tuesday’s game after seven innings.

* Outfielder Nate Schierholtz was released, and will be a free agent by Friday. Schierholtz was designated for assignment on Aug. 6 after batting .192 in 99 games with six home runs, 10 doubles and 33 RBIs.

– Carrie Muskat

7/29 Trade rumors

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has had plenty of conversations with other teams prior to Thursday’s Trade Deadline but said they may not make another deal.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we made no moves,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “I expect to be active, we’re having a lot of conversations. It’s still early. [Wednesday] is sort of moving day. I expect things will get more serious as we move into tomorrow. People have some reluctance on the last day.

“[Wednesday] evening is when a lot of people hone in on the deals they want to make,” he said.

The Cubs made their blockbuster move on July 4, trading starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics for four players, including highly touted shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Billy McKinney.

Other teams are still trying to find the right match.

“People try to find a dance partner on the 30th and 31st,” Hoyer said. “As you get to [Wednesday] evening, people want to make deals and they’re more willing to pair up, and I expect that to be the same thing.”

There has been some interest in the Cubs’ left-handed relievers, James Russell and Wesley Wright.

– Carrie Muskat

7/29 Ramirez to DL

Cubs reliever Neil Ramirez, who was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday to give him some rest, was placed on the Major League disabled list on Tuesday because of right triceps soreness. Ramirez had given up three earned runs over 28 innings in 33 games for a 0.96 ERA, and the Cubs had made clear that Saturday’s demotion to the Minors was not performance related. But Ramirez had some soreness, which prompted the team to switch him to the disabled list, retroactive to Saturday.

“All year, we’ve talked about giving these guys some rest,” GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “You convert a bunch of starting pitchers to the bullpen, they’ve never done it before, and that was the intention to give him a rest. We’ve tried our hardest to be careful with him, getting him up and down, and pitching back to back days.”

When he was optioned, the plan had been for Ramirez to be sidelined the minimum of 10 days, but now he will get 15 days to rest and was expected to return once his DL stint was over.

“That was probably the right way to handle it, once he was sore,” Hoyer said.

Manager Rick Renteria said the Cubs may try to give other relievers some extended rest but Hoyer said he hopes that isn’t necessary. When rosters expand in September, the Cubs should have reinforcements.

– Carrie Muskat

7/21 Trade rumors

At the All-Star Game, Tampa’s David Price said Chicago “would be the coolest city to win a championship in right now.” Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer feel the same way, which is what enticed them to join the Cubs. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal speculated Monday that the Cubs should pursue Price and deal some of the team’s top prospects for the pitcher. The Cubs do need starting pitching, but they are not contenders this year, and most likely not in 2015 either.

How does Hoyer feel about the rumors?

“I don’t really pay attention,” Hoyer said Monday in a radio interview on The Game 87.7. “There are going to be a lot of rumors about our players and our acquiring good players because of the good talent we have in the Minors. I think we’ll be lumped into the rumors. We just sort of ignore them.”

5/14 Veras on Bryant: “He’s unbelievable”

Veteran reliever Jose Veras sounded like a Cubs fan when asked about top prospect Kris Bryant.

“He’s unbelievable,” Veras said Wednesday. “To see him play, to see [Jorge] Soler play, [Stephen] Bruno play. They’re unbelievable players. They know how to play the game.”

Veras watched the youngsters first-hand during a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee, which ended Tuesday night. He saw Bryant at his best. The third baseman, who is batting .324, was named the Southern League Hitter of the Week on Monday, and currently leads the league in home runs (11) and RBIs (33). He belted No. 11 on Tuesday.

“He hit a homer and center field was 400 feet away and the wall was 40 feet high, and he hit it over that thing like nothing,” Veras said. “It’s unbelievable the power that he has.”

The Cubs front office has told their prospects that they’ll be promoted if they dominate at their current level. Bryant is definitely dominating.

“He’s having a great year and we have a number of guys on that team playing well,” GM Jed Hoyer said of Bryant. “[Promoting him] is not something we’ve talked about. I think it’s important to know a ballpark you’re going to, who your teammates are. … It’s probably important to have a few ups and downs with the club before we have that discussion.”

Bryant is ranked No. 2 on MLB.com’s list of top 10 Cubs prospects. Javier Baez, listed at No. 1, isn’t having as much success at Triple-A Iowa, and was batting .147 in 27 games with three homers and 11 RBIs. The shortstop batted .264 in spring with five home runs.

“There probably is emotionally a little bit of a let down after you audition, if you will, in Spring Training, and you have the adrenaline, and then go down [to the Minors],” Hoyer said. “I think we’re past that point. He’s in a big slump and he’ll have to figure his way out of it. He’ll be stronger for having gone through this. … Now it’s a matter of Javy figuring out what he needs to do to get through this.”

The Cubs have been strugging offensively. Did Veras try to talk them into letting him bring Bryant up to the big leagues?

“I can’t do that,” Veras said, laughing. “The only thing I did was try to worry about was being healthy and throwing strikes. Everybody loved him, he’s an unbelievable teammate. He’s humble, he’s a leader on the team. He’s an unbelievable player.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/6 Extra bases

* The Cubs have been active at the Trade Deadline the last two seasons, and will likely be again this year. As of now, Jed Hoyer said his discussions with other general managers have not focused on possible deals.

“It’s May 6,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “Teams are still figuring out who’s going to be good, still solving their own injuries through their own systems.

“It takes a while,” he said. “Teams have to have a sense they can’t fill the hole internally, and they usually don’t come to that conclusion in May.”

* Cubs pitcher Jose Veras struck out one of three batters he faced in a Minor League rehab outing Tuesday with Double-A Tennessee. Veras, who has been sidelined since April 24 with a left oblique strain, threw 11 pitches, seven for strikes, in the sixth inning of Tennessee’s 4-1 win over Birmingham. There is no timetable for Veras’ return.

* Arodys Vizcaino, who has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011 and has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, was promoted from Class A Daytona to Double-A Tennessee.

* The intracity Interleague series between the Cubs and White Sox will shift to U.S. Cellular Field for two games Wednesday and Thursday. Manager Rick Renteria said he was going to finalize his lineup after Tuesday’s game, and decide then who will be the designated hitter.

“I usually sit down after the game and think through what potential lineups we’ll use,” Renteria said.

When the Cubs played two games at Yankee Stadium in mid April, Mike Olt and Nate Schierholtz were the designated hitters.

* The Cubs and Reds will play a day-night doubleheader on July 8 in Cincinnati to make up for the April 28 game which was postponed because of rain. The first game will begin at 12:10 p.m. CT

* This is Paul Konerko’s final game at Wrigley Field, and Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija presented the White Sox slugger with the No. 14 from the Wrigley Field scoreboard as a farewell gift. Konerko is retiring after this season. He finishes 1-for-5 in his career against Samardzija, and that one hit was a home run.

– Carrie Muskat

3/4 Lilly named special assistant

Ted Lilly knew he couldn’t pitch any more but wanted to stay in the game, and on Tuesday, was named to a job in the Cubs’ front office. Lilly, 38, officially is a special assistant to Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, and he will do a variety of tasks, such as helping with scouting and developing the young players. Epstein, Hoyer and Lilly discussed the job at the Cubs Convention in January.

“His reputation with the Cubs is sterling, which is fantastic, and not only as a person but as a competitor,” Hoyer said. “I really liked what he had to say. A lot of guys want to get back in and don’t want to work that much, and he made it clear he wants to work and wants to get involved in scouting.

“I think we’ll use him in a variety of ways,” Hoyer said. “He feels he has a pretty eye and likes to try to evaluate but also was really humble and knows he has to learn how to do it. He was excited to get back involved and I think we’ll feel out how to use him.”

Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry hired Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux in a similar role in 2010. Hoyer said Lilly will watch the Minor League pitchers, visit the Cubs’ affiliates, and scout some amateur players.

“It was pretty clear after a few conversations that he had something to add,” Hoyer said of Lilly. “I like the fact that to finish it off, he was with a Cubs team that won 97 games and they had success, and as we try to figure out how to build a winner in Chicago, he was part of it.”

Lilly pitched for 15 seasons with the Expos, Yankees, Athletics, Blue Jays, Cubs and Dodgers. He was in Chicago from 2007-10, helping the team win back to back National League Central titles in 2007-08.

“I wanted to stay in the game,” Lilly said. “I would love to keep playing, too, but at this point, I’m sure that I’m retired from being on the field. I want to be around the game and I feel like I have something to offer. This is an organization that I’d prefer to be with, so it worked out.”

Lilly was limited to 13 starts the last two seasons with the Dodgers because of injuries. He started thinking about doing more than pitching in that time.

“The last couple years, when I had a lot of free time to think, I did start thinking about when my career was over,” Lilly said. “I wanted to keep playing but I definitely started thinking about this [type of work] at the end.”

Lilly has two young children, a 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter, and another child due in September, which makes a job as a pitching coach tough because of the time commitment needed. He is committed to the Cubs.

“The experiences I had the first couple years here winning were incredible in the sense that we put together a team that was expected to win,” Lilly said. “We didn’t accomplish the ultimate goal of winning a World Series but it was such a great experience. We had so many professionals in the clubhouse and guys who went about it the right way. I think that’s why I’ll always refer to those two years in Chicago as the best years I’ve had as a player.”

– Carrie Muskat

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