Unlike what feels like the overwhelming majority of Cubs fans, I’m not quite ready to fire Jed Hoyer into the sun. Not yet. I think we have to take a wait-and-see approach until after the upcoming offseason, see if the team takes meaningful, substantive actions to improve and go from there.
That being said, I’m beyond frustrated. After being told we weren’t heading into another lengthy, painful rebuild reminiscent of what we suffered through early on in the Theo Epstein era, with each passing day and loss to the Pirates, it’s feeling more and more like those dark days from a decade or so ago.
Hoyer held court last weekend at Wrigley Field with Chicago in free-fall, losers of 10 straight contests, touching on a variety of topics and standing firm in his support for third-year manager David Ross, who has recently drawn ire of fans, namely for his constant trotting out of Jason Heyward on a nightly basis.
The Cubs president of baseball operations chatted with 670 The Score on Tuesday, hitting a ton of the same talking points – which, unfortunately, did little to give us any real idea of what the months and years to come will look like.
"“As far as the timing, I do feel like that’s such an area where I have to have some humility,” Hoyer told Mully & Haugh. “As cliché as it is sometimes, you try to build it brick by brick and create that great foundation of young talent. You try to keep as much powder dry financially as you can so that when those (prospects) are here, you can really maximize that …. You have financial currency and you have prospect currency. It’s really important to be as healthy as possible in both. I know that the money will be there when the time is right to be aggressive again.”"
Now, obviously, Hoyer can’t come out and boldly declare the gloves are coming off this winter and the team’s payroll is going to blow past $200 million. That would be a bullish, shortsighted move on his part. After all, you know executives around the league would love that information as it would drastically alter the landscape of free agency this winter.
Cubs waiting on prospects to develop isn’t going to fly with fans
But so many of his comments and answers just lack clarity and are totally dependent on the organization’s successful development of the prospects in their revamped and reloaded farm system.
"“You have financial currency and you have prospect currency,” Hoyer said. “It’s really important to be as healthy as possible in both … I know that the money will be there when the time is right to be aggressive again.”"
That’s problematic because your top position player prospect, one who looked like he might make his big league debut in 2022, is out for the year after undergoing back surgery in Brennen Davis. Another top prospect, Ed Howard, is in a similar situation after sustaining a major hip injury early in the year.
Former top prospects Miguel Amaya and Brailyn Marquez have to now be considered total question marks given their last few years, further subtracting from that ‘core’ Hoyer will want to see develop out of his prospect mix. And if the Cubs truly are waiting for their young up-and-comers to prove themselves and show they’re ready for the big leagues, then playing guys like Heyward is, at this point, more indefensible than ever before.
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Watching the Cubs snap that 10-game losing streak only to head to Pittsburgh and get outscored 19-2 in the first two games at PNC Park is so wildly on-brand for this team right now it’s not even funny. Fangraphs has the Cubs projected at 68-94 this year; if I were a betting man, I’m pounding the under on that win total right now.