President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has been operating the Cubs’ baseball department for just over a week now, and yesterday, he was finally joined by his new general manager and essentially new scouting director. After knowing that Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod would be joining the Cubs’ front office from the San Diego Padres’ organization, the Cubs were finally able to officially introduce their new general manager. Thus, putting into place the new brain-trust in the Cubs’ front office.
Hoyer began his press conference by praising the efforts of Cubs’ Chairman Tom Ricketts. Hoyer told reporters that “From his first conversation with Ricketts” it was clear that the Cubs’ owner is dedicated to bringing a World Series title to the organization, and the new Cubs’ general manager appreciates the hard work that Ricketts put in during the process of hiring Epstein, McLeod, and himself. What Tom Ricketts did can not be understated. The Cubs’ owner swung for the fences he hit a grand slam. The addition of Epstein was great on it’s surface, now when you add Hoyer and McLeod to the mix it is not out of the question to think that Ricketts performed the greatest coup in the history of major league baseball.
Despite the fact that Hoyer has the general manager label, he realizes that Epstein will be the end all, be all in the Cubs’ front office. Having worked with Epstein in Boston, Hoyer knows what Epstein will expect of him, and he told reporters that he would have never became the Cubs’ general manager if Epstein was not already in place as the President of Baseball Operations. To use a corny cliche, Epstein and Hoyer are like peanut butter and jelly. While Epstein receives most of the praise for success of the Boston Red Sox over the past decade, the two realize that in order to repeat what they did with the Red Sox, they needed each other. That is not to say that Hoyer will just be a “yes man” for Epstein. The two will likely bump heads on occassion over various decisions, but it is that conflict of interests that should improve the Cubs’ organization for the long-term.
Hoyer believes that “building a championship organization, is so much bigger than a one-person job.” That was one of the main flaws of the previous front office regime. Former General Manager Jim Hendry was working with one of the smallest front offices in all of baseball, and Hendry was the one making most of the baseball decisions. The way the Cubs’ front office is now constructed, both Hoyer and Epstein will be making baseball decisions and both will have their own ideas to share with one another. Both seem to agree that they have to “turn around the farm system to where they are churning out players every year.” That is where the Cubs have been lacking in recent seasons. With the exception of Starlin Castro, and Andrew Cashner ( when he is healthy), the Cubs’ farm system has yet to produce major league talent on a consistent basis. Such a strategy is implemented by the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, and Philadelphia Phillies and those are all model baseball organizations that Epstein and Hoyer want to emulate with the Cubs.
But Hoyer did admit that the goal should be “every single year you want to do everything you can in the off-season to put a good product on the field at the major league level”, also adding that “in no year are we [Epstein and Hoyer] going to ask for patience.” In saying that, Hoyer would not dismiss the idea that the Cubs could pursue a big-name free agents this winter, but mentioned that ” a lot of it is profiling which guys have peak years left.” The Cubs’ general manager is intent on improving the team’s pitching staff this winter, and one source told the Chicago Tribune that the Cubs could have interest in White Sox free agent starting pitcher Mark Buehrle. Buehrle, however, will likely re-sign with the White Sox or sign with his hometown Cardinals. As of this point, it is not believed that the Cubs have ruled out pursuing pursuing C.J. Wilson.
In any event, the Cubs off-season has been filled with jubilation already with the hiring of Epstein and Hoyer, now the time for talking has ceased and fans are ready for action.