With President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer now in charge of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball department, the team’s front office has operated with code of silence; To quote President Teddy Roosevelt, the team has “spoke softly but carried a big stick.” With that stick, Epstein and Hoyer have knocked Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano off of the Cubs’ roster. However, the culture change that Epstein and Hoyer are implementing is not finished yet. There is still one player that is keeping the culture change from being complete. That player is left fielder Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs’ front office has tried feverishly this off-season to trade Soriano. More specifically, the Cubs have had on and off discussions with the Baltimore Orioles regarding Soriano, but at no point were the two teams believed to be close on a deal.
With Spring Training around the corner, the Cubs now appear to be entering another season with Soriano starting off as the team’s starting left fielder. Epstein and Hoyer have said all along this off-season that they believer Soriano still has gas in the tank, and the pair of executives may be willing to put their money where their mouth is.
Hoyer joined the afternoon radio show, “The Carmen, Jurko, and Harry Show”, on ESPN 1000 to talk all things Cubs. With Ramirez and Zambrano no longer apart of the organization, Hoyer was asked if Soriano will follow his former teammates in leaving the organization?
“I think that’s unlikely (that he’ll start the season with another team),” Hoyer said on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000. “Our hope certainly … I know Sori’s been working really hard this offseason … our hope is obviously you want him to get on base a little more. The power was there last year, the RBIs were there. Obviously it really comes down to defense and we’re hoping with some better conditioning and some better health, that he can be a little better out there.
“We don’t want to do anything to hurt our pitchers, but we do believe there’s something left in Sori.” ESPN Chicago
One thing many Cubs’ fans have noticed this off-season as that Epstein and Hoyer have their own version of the “kiss of death.” The first victim of this was Tyler Colvin. In late November, Hoyer told reporters that Colvin was no the odd man out in the Cubs’ outfield and the team was looking forward to having him in the fold for the 2012 season. A few weeks later, Colvin was traded along with infielder DJ LeMahieu for third baseman Ian Stewart. The next victim was left handed relief pitcher Sean Marshall. In the days leading up to the Marshall being traded to Cincinnati Reds for starting pitcher Travis Wood and two prospects, Epstein praised Marshall as the best left handed relief pitcher in all of baseball. The latest victim was Carlos Zambrano. Three days before the Cubs traded Zambrano to the Miami Marlins for Chris Volstad, Epstein said he was looking forward to watching Zambrano earn his way back on the Cubs during Spring Training.
There is a pattern developing. As the three cases mentioned above prove, when Epstein and Hoyer openly talk optimistically on a player, that player usually finds himself on another team before too long. It is possible that Hoyer could be instilling the same strategy with his recent comments about Soriano. The Cubs may not be able to trade Soriano, but Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts has given the front office permission to cut any player that is not a fit on the team. With Jim Hendry no longer a part of the Cubs’ organization, Soriano now qualifies as such a player.