Results tagged ‘ Jed Hoyer ’
Arizona Fall League
* The Arizona Fall League opens its 20th season Tuesday with three games, including the Mesa Solar Sox’s contest against the Salt River Rafters in Scottsdale at Talking Stick. The Cubs have seven players on the Solar Sox roster: Javier Baez, Rubi Silva, Kevin Rhoderick, Matt Szczur, Tony Zych, Dae-Eun Rhee, and Nick Struck, who was named the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. The majority of the rosters are composed of players who competed at Double-A levels last season. Baez, who turns 20 on Dec. 1, is the youngest player in the AFL. He spent most of the season at Class A Peoria, where he batted .333 in 57 games, and also played 23 games with Class A Daytona.
AFL games run from Tuesday until Nov. 15, with the championship on Nov. 17. The Solar Sox will play at HoHoKam Park on Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. MST against the Rafters.
* There’s definitely a different sound to the Cubs’ instructional league workouts this year at Fitch Park. Tim Cossins, 42, the Cubs new Minor League field coordinator, asked players and coaches to each submit a song, and the music is played during batting practice at Fitch Park. It does help get the energy level going during workouts in the 90-plus degree heat. Cossins replaces Brandon Hyde, who was promoted to director of player development. A former catcher, Cossins played eight seasons in the Minor Leagues, and managed five seasons in the Marlins’ Minor League system, including three at the Rookie League level and two years, 2005-06, at Class A Jupiter.
On Tuesday, Trevor Gretzky made an impressive catch in left field during one of the drills. Cubs outfield instructor Lee Tinsley says Gretzky is one of the most improved players in camp. It also was a good way for Gretzky to show off in front of his parents, Wayne Gretzky and Janet Jones, who were at Fitch Park.
Instructional league games finish this week, with the last game on Saturday. However, players will compete Thursday in their own “American Idol” type competition.
* Congrats to Jesse Hodges (@TCHodgy), who hit his first professional home run, a two-run shot, in Monday’s instructional league game against the Athletics. The Cubs signed Hodges after seeing him play in the World Junior Tournament in South Korea. A Canadian, he had a full scholarship at Grayson College, a junior college in Texas. His home run was well-timed as he connected in front of Cubs international scout Steve Wilson, who signed the infielder, as well as Hodges’ grandfather, who was at the game, and most of the Cubs brass, including Theo Epstein. I’ll have more on Hodges.
* Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are in Arizona this week with the Cubs scouting staff for the end of the year meetings, and a chance to see some of the young players such as Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs promoted Shiraz Rehman to assistant general manager, reporting to general manager Jed Hoyer, on Thursday. The team now will have two assistant GMs in Rehman and Randy Bush, who will continue to serve in the role he has held since December 2006. Rehman, 34, joined the Cubs in November as assistant to the general manager after six seasons with the Diamondbacks, where he was director of player personnel. He also held the titles of director of baseball operations (2009-10) and manager of baseball operations (2007-08) after joining the D-backs as a baseball operations assistant in December 2005.
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
Don’t expect the Cubs to be offering mega deals to free agents this offseason. The goal is to build from within. During an appearance Thursday night on “Chicago Tribune Live,” GM Jed Hoyer explained their approach.
“One of the problems with free agency is that there is an illusion in some ways that you’re acquiring this great talent,” Hoyer said. “Most of the time, players hit free agency when they’re on the back half of their career. Players peak [at] 26, 27, 28 [years of age]. Free agents [are usually] in their 30s. So, you’re spending a lot of money sometimes for declining performance. It doesn’t mean you don’t do it. It doesn’t mean you don’t seek the right guys out.
“(But) we have to build from within and build young players, because the days of going out and signing young free agents is over,” Hoyer said. “Teams lock up their guys. Look at how many long, multiyear deals teams are signing with their pre-arbitration players. You know that you’re going to delve into free agency, but if you have an offseason plan, or a plan of the future dependent upon those names, I think you’re doing things the wrong way.”
Expect to see more deals like the one they gave David DeJesus. The outfielder signed a two-year contract with a club option for 2014. He will get $4.25 million in each of the first two seasons, and the club option is for $6.5 million, and contains a $1.5 million buyout.
The Cubs also are reportedly working on locking up their young players. Starlin Castro’s agent Paul Kinzer told CSNChicago.com that he has been talking to the Cubs about a long-term deal for the shortstop. The contract could be finalized before the end of the season, and would buy out Castro’s remaining arbitration years plus two years of free agency.
– Carrie Muskat
As of Saturday, Matt Garza fully expected to make his start Tuesday night. Now, it’s not certain whether the right-hander will pitch again this season. Garza was diagnosed Monday with a stress reaction in the back of his right elbow, and will be sidelined indefinitely. Brooks Raley will be promoted from Triple-A Iowa to make his Major League debut on Tuesday against the Padres. Garza has not pitched since July 21 when he had to come out of the game after three innings because of cramping in his right triceps. He had a good bullpen session on Saturday in Los Angeles but his arm was stiff on Sunday, and he was sent back to Chicago to be examined. Tests on Monday revealed the injury. Cubs reliever Blake Parker was diagnosed with a stress reaction in the back of his right elbow this year, and last pitched June 1. He was scheduled to make his first rehab start on Monday for Triple-A Iowa.
GM Jed Hoyer would not predict whether there’s time for Garza (5-7, 3.91 ERA) to return this year.
“We’ll keep re-evaluating him and will make that decision when he picks up a ball and starts throwing again,” Hoyer said. “To speculate right now on his status for the season wouldn’t be right. Today, we got the diagnosis, talked about it and we’ll make a decision when it’s right. It’s too early to speculate on the remainder of the season or when he’ll start throwing.”
Garza won’t be allowed to pick up a baseball for the next two weeks.
“He felt really good, as he told [the media] on Saturday, and that’s the surprise of it,” Hoyer said. “Matt’s a competitor and he’ll want to get out there and get going. He’ll be eager to get back and we’ll wind up holding him back to an extent.”
With the loss of Garza, Jeff Samardzija now has senior status on the Cubs rotation, and this is his first year as a full-time starter.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs continued to deal veteran players, sending utility man Jeff Baker to the Tigers on Sunday for two players to be named. The ability to move Baker helped the Cubs decide to promote top prospect Josh Vitters. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said they had some talks with the Tigers at the Trade Deadline about Baker, and Detroit claimed the versatile right-handed hitter off waivers. The two teams then worked out a deal.
“I’m happy for Jeff,” Hoyer said. “They wanted him a lot and he gets to go into a pennant race and we get to bring up Josh and give him a chance he’s earned.”
Baker wasn’t surprised at the news. The Cubs now have dealt Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster, Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto and Baker this week.
“When you see the direction they’re going here now, you knew it was a possibility,” Baker said. “When they made the moves with Maholm, Reed, and Demp, to be honest, I don’t blame them. They’ve got to go young and see what they’ve got and see what they’ve got for the future. I just made up 21 games in the standings, so I’m definitely excited about that.”
– Carrie Muskat
There’s been some confusion as to who said what to whom regarding the Cubs’ negotiations with the Dodgers about Ryan Dempster. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, implied that Dempster was in the same room as he and GM Jed Hoyer during their discussions with Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. However, sources said Sunday that wasn’t the case, that Dempster wasn’t in the same office, and that he talked directly to Colletti.
Dempster was in the Cubs office building in case a quick decision needed to be made prior to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. Dempster had made it clear he wanted to be traded to the Dodgers.
“Once he came into our office and actually heard the conversations we had with L.A., he came to realize, ‘OK, that’s not actually going to happen, let me consider a couple other places,’ and the deal got done with about three minutes left,” Epstein said on Wednesday.
The problem is that Epstein’s statements were taken literally. Dempster was not actually in the same office as Epstein, but was down the hall. Epstein said Dempster needed to hear “first hand” and apparently meant the pitcher needed to talk to Colletti directly.
When the two teams couldn’t work out a deal, Dempster agreed to go to the Rangers, and a trade was consummated shortly before the Deadline.
– Carrie Muskat
Teams did inquire about Alfonso Soriano prior to Tuesday’s Trade Deadline but the Cubs weren’t able to find a good match. Soriano, 36, has veto power over any deal.
“We had some interest,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “You should have interest — he’s having a hell of a year.”
Soriano entered Tuesday’s game one home run shy of 20, and the only left fielder to handle at least 150 total chances without an error this year.
– Carrie Muskat
Ryan Dempster did the same pre-game prep work he normally does before a start except the right-hander isn’t quite sure he’ll be taking the mound Tuesday night for the Cubs. Dale Sveum said the team will have a contingency plan. Would Sveum be surprised if Dempster is still a Cub after the Traded Deadline?
“Yeah, I’d be surprised, I guess,” Sveum said. “There’s too many teams and he’s too good a pitcher for people to not want him these last two months.”
Dempster, 35, rumored to be dealt by Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CT Trade Deadline, said Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have kept him up to date when necessary. The Braves thought they had a deal last week but the Dodgers appear to have the most interest.
“If they have anything that comes to fruition, [I asked them to] just let me know and we’ll make a decision from there,” Dempster said. “Nothing’s been said in a little while.”
Dempster (5-5, 2.25 ERA) has control over where he would go because he has 10-and-5 rights (10 years in the big leagues, five with the same team). Even though he’ll make the final call, all the rumors have become a little tiring.
“I’m human, so it’s an emotional roller coaster sometimes,” he said, “but at the same time, I can control what I do, and I’m going to try to do the best job of that. I have a job to do [Tuesday] and that’s to go out there and pitch, and I”m trying to prepare for that.”
Asked if he had a gut feeling about what might happen, Dempster said, “I have all kind of gut feelings right now.”
In 1996, when Dempster was in the Rangers’ Minor League system, he was traded to the Marlins, and in 2002, he was dealt to the Reds. Getting traded isn’t a first, but it’s still been strange to hear his name mentioned so often on the clubhouse television.
“There’s tons of rumors and tons of speculation all the time,” Dempster said. “This is something I’ve tried to keep close to me so it can get handled the best it can. Sometimes there are rumors that are true, and sometimes there are rumors that aren’t. I can’t control that, I can just control what I can do and that’s go out there and prepare to do my job the best I can.”
What if the Cubs don’t make a deal?
“It’s a great place to play,” Dempster said of Chicago. “I’ve enjoyed every moment I’ve played here, and I’m super proud to be a Chicago Cub and I understand that’s always a possibility and if that’s the case, I’m going to give everything I have starting [Tuesday] night. Whatever ends up happening in 24 hours or 23 hours from now, we’ll find out then. It could be sooner, it could be wearing my uniform and going out and pitching [Tuesday].”
– Carrie Muskat
Matt Garza had to leave Saturday’s game after three innings because of cramping in his right triceps. His status was day to day. Garza had thrown three shutout innings against the Cardinals, giving up two hits and walking two. He fell on the ground during a wild double play in the Cardinals third, but apparently experienced the cramping during his brief outing. He underwent X-rays as a precaution, and they were negative. The right-hander was making his 18th start.
“It started getting a little tight in warmups for the third inning,” Garza said. “I figured it would loosen up. I went through that [third] inning and felt all right. The first fastball to [Rafael] Furcal didn’t feel normal, but I just kept going and got out of the inning.
“I came down and went straight to the cage and tried to make a couple throws and it just started cramping,” he said. “I went straight to [pitching coach Chris Bosio] and said, ‘Have you ever had this before? Have you ever dealt with this?’ He made the call and said it was not worth the risk.”
Told that most people following the game thought Garza was pulled because he had been traded, he shook his head.
“If that’s what [people] thought, it’s going to take a lot more to pull me out of a game than a trade,” Garza said. “They’re going to have to wait until I’m done.”
There were scouts from the Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, Royals, Pirates at Busch Stadium to watch Garza. He could be dealt by the July 31 Trade Deadline but he also could be a key part of what the Cubs are trying to do, GM Jed Hoyer said.
“We’ve said that all along,” Hoyer said before Saturday’s game. “He’s a really good pitcher. We need more guys like him in the organization, not fewer. We’ve been very consistent with that all along. He’s a guy who can certainly help the team win, not just this year but next year and for a long time.”
– Carrie Muskat