Results tagged ‘ Jed Hoyer ’

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

8/17 Money matters: free agency & Castro

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 

8/6 Garza out with elbow injury

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

8/5 Baker to Tigers

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

8/5 The last word

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

7/31 Soriano stays

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

 

7/30 Dempster: I control what I can do

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

7/21 Garza leaves game with cramps – UPDATED

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

7/16 Cubs Inbox

Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com.

Q: With the Cubs showing they can win games and doing it well, what kind of record would the team have to put together over the second half to get a Wild Card? Not that I think by any means this will happen but I am curious. — Jeremy B., Denver, CO

A: You can dream. The Cubs are 36-52 as of today, and would have to go 45-29 just to get to .500 (81-81). They are on a good pace, with a 12-4 record since June 25. If the season ended today, the Braves and Pirates would be Wild Card winners. The Cubs are currently 13 games back.

Q: What are the team batting/OBP numbers/slugging percentage before and after Rudy Jaramillo was dismissed? — James B., Fredonia, NY

A: From April 5-June 10, the numbers were .247 batting average/.304 on-base percentage/.385 slugging percentage. From June 12-July 15, the numbers are almost the same, .249/.293/.388. What’s different are the pitching numbers. In the first 60 games, the Cubs were 20-40, the pitchers had a 4.39 ERA and converted seven of 18 save opportunities. In the last 28 games, the pitchers have a 3.93 ERA and have converted 10 of 11 save opportunities.

Q: Is Tony Campana in the Cubs’ plans after the All-Star break or is he on the trading block? In the 15 days prior to the break, he only got into 10 games, during which he came to the plate in five of them. — Pete V., Xenia, OH

A: In 21 games in June, Campana hit .237 (14-for-59) and had an on-base percentage of .250. That’s why he’s not getting more starts. He can’t steal bases if he can’t get on base. He’s the perfect 25th man, used as a pinch-runner, defensive sub.

Q: Can Bryan LaHair win Rookie of the Year? — Jeffrey B., Zion, IL

A: No. A player is considered a rookie unless during the previous season he has, No. 1, exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the big leagues, or, No. 2, accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League team during the 25-man limit in effect from Opening Day until Aug. 31. LaHair started this year with 195 Major League at-bats and 100 days service time.

Q: With Ian Stewart looking like he could miss the rest of the season, is there any chance that Theo and Co. will call up surging slugging, Josh Vitters? He hasn’t played 162 games in Triple-A but he has a lot of Minor League experience and with Javier Baez hot on his trail, this may be his only opportunity. — Dean S., Northbrook, IL

A: Baez is a shortstop, so he’s not a threat to Vitters. The Cubs are watching Vitters and Brett Jackson just as closely as they monitored Anthony Rizzo. On Saturday, GM Jed Hoyer said Vitters and Jackson need to show they deserve a promotion.

“Those guys need to force the issue, I would say,” Hoyer said. “Like we talked about with Rizzo, when they sort of prove to us that they’re ready and make it clear, then I think that’s something we’ll see.”

Through Sunday, Vitters was batting .301 with 13 home runs, 28 doubles and 51 RBIs, and had a great June, when he hit .324. His defense is a little suspect. Jackson was batting .256 through Sunday, and coming off a .282 June, but he struck out 50 times in 29 games that month. As for Stewart, he is done for the season.

Q: The extraordinary number of strikeouts by Brett Jackson makes me wonder the obvious. Have they tested his vision? — Eric H., Brandon, FL

A. Yes.

Q: When is Jorge Soler expected to join the Major League team? — Christopher T., Chicago

A: Soler is 20 years old, and has yet to play in a game in the Mesa Rookie League. Sorry, my crystal ball is a little fuzzy and won’t give me an exact date.

Q: Sitting here watching the final three innings of Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game. This game is seldom mentioned as one of the all-time greatest games ever pitched. A 20-year-old ties a MLB record and the only hit was an infield single. A 1-0 game to boot. Any thoughts? — Jim R., Indio, CA

A: Wood’s 20 K game is my favorite of all time.

Q: Other than Wayne Terwilliger and Eddie Miksis, who else wore No. 21? — Sheldon D., Key West, FL

A: Jason Marquis, Tyler Colvin, Sammy Sosa, and now, Joe Mather.

Q: Please evaluate the Colvin and Marshall trades. The new front office shows they are not what they’re cracked up to be. They both stink. I’m holding my breath as we get down to the trading deadline. — Dwight A., Findlay, OH

A: The Cubs knew Stewart had a questionable wrist when they acquired him for Tyler Colvin (yes, Stewart did take a physical), but the team was ready to move on regarding Colvin. You have to admit his .150 average last season wasn’t very impressive. The Rockies did well in that deal as Stewart is done for the year. But I’d say the Reds and Cubs both got what they wanted in their deal which sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Roni Torreyes. James Russell has taken over the left-handed set-up role for the Cubs, Wood has won his last four starts, and Torreyes got off to a rough start but batted .330 in June and was hitting .304 in 12 games this month.

A perfect trade benefits both teams. How would you grade the deal for Rizzo? How about the pickup of Luis Valbuena? What about moving Marlon Byrd?

– Carrie Muskat 

6/30 Cubs to finalize Soler deal

The Cubs have finalized their deal with Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, who reportedly agreed to a nine-year, $30 million contract with the team earlier this month. GM Jed Hoyer was to meet with the media later today to announce the deal. Soler, 20, a right-handed hitter with power, is considered the next big Cuban prospect on the scene after outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who signed with the Athletics for $36 million over four years. Soler had to sign with a Major League club before Tuesday’s deadline or be subjected to new Basic Agreement guidelines, which will limit spending on international prospects to $2.9 million per team without penalty. Cubs manager Dale Sveum has watched Soler on video, and likes what he has seen. “He’s pretty strong,” Sveum said. “On video, he looks pretty impressive.” Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, and Hoyer did watch Soler work out in the Dominican Republic in the offseason. Soler defected from Cuba last year.

“The body type and everything like that is like Glenn Braggs,” Sveum said of his former Brewers teammate. “You see [Soler's] body and the size and strength, that kind of strength at a young age is pretty impressive. Hopefully it all translates into a huge productive player at this level.”

– Carrie Muskat

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