One of the first items on new president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer’s agenda will be to find a veteran fifth starter. Though the Cubs have not shut the door on Jon Lester‘s potential return, the Cubs rotation goes just four deep if you include Adbert Alzolay. If Hoyer is forced to buy pitching, he’ll have very limited funds to work with. Welcome to the big chair, Jed.
Hoyer obviously has some big shoes to fill, too. The Cubs won 705 games in nine seasons with Theo Epstein running the organization, including that elusive World Series in 2016. Of course, the GM was nearly as instrumental in putting together that team.
— Andy Martínez (@amartinez_11) November 18, 2020
Tom Ricketts didn’t waste any time in identifying some of the challenges Hoyer will face this year and in the near term.
“I think Jed knows that these are going to be interesting and uniquely challenging years,” Ricketts said. “There’s a lot of variables. But with respect to that situation, I think Jed’s on top of it. I think he’s extremely well qualified and ready to go. And we’ll just work through it together.”
It would be nice if Hoyer can somehow uncover the next Jake Arrieta, though the original just happens to be available this winter and might even be within the budgetary limitations to build the 2021 roster. The soon-to-be 35-year-old is coming off of a down year, has battled through some injuries, and is nowhere near the pitcher he was back in 2015 and ’16. But he could be a stabilizing force at the back end of the rotation, maybe more so than Lester.
There are other cheap options in free agency, too, though none of them will give you the warm fuzzies that Lester or Arrieta will. Anthony Desclafani, Alex Wood, Corey Kluber, and Mike Leake are good examples, and Chris Archer has also been named as someone the team may pursue. Mike Minor may be someone to keep an eye on as well.
Beyond a fifth starter, Hoyer will need to amass rotational depth in case of injuries or poor performance. Some potential non-tender candidates who might interest the Cubs include Jon Gray of the Rockies, Robert Gsellman of the Mets, and Reynaldo López of the White Sox.
Cubs News & Notes
- The goodbye note that Epstein penned to his staff and co-workers will leave you a little misty.
- Epstein should be proud of what he built. The Cubs are now a model organization in baseball, something that couldn’t be said of them when he came to town in 2012.
- Though Epstein wants to take a year off, Philadelphia owner John Middleton is going to contact him to see if he’s interested in running the Phillies.
- National beat writers weighed in on Epstein’s decision and what might be next for the future Hall of Fame executive.
- Epstein has been a nemesis to Cardinals fans throughout his career, even before coming to the Cubs.
- Among the external candidates, Diamondbacks assistant general manager Jared Porter seems like a good fit for what the Cubs want to do and could be a candidate to replace Hoyer as GM.
- The Cubs are going to have to make some difficult decisions when it comes to tendering contracts for 2021, and though unlikely, Kris Bryant and/or Kyle Schwarber could become free agents.
- If the Cubs do tender both sluggers, Hoyer may gauge league interest in both Bryant and Schwarber as potential trade pieces.
- Hoyer will need to find a contact hitter with defensive versatility this winter and free agent Tommy La Stella makes a lot of sense, depending on his contract demands.
- Though the restructured front office will have some big decisions to make, it should be noted that right now the Cubs are still the best team in the division.
- You’ll be hearing a lot about minor league outfielder Brennen Davis this winter. He’s the team’s No. 1 prospect heading into 2021.
- Former Cubs 3B Coach Will Venable is the new Red Sox bench coach.
Apropos of Nothing
From 1904-67, Chicago had one of the more preeminent amusement parks in the country just outside the Lakeview area, bordering the Chicago River from Western to Belmont. How fun would it be to spend a Saturday at Wrigley Field in the 1950’s, watching Ernie Banks hit a couple of home runs, and then tooling over to Riverview Park to ride the water slides or the Bobs?
Odds & Sods
Greg Maddux was destined to be a 300-game winner and Hall of Famer.
A 19-year-old Greg Maddux talks about how velocity will get you drafted, but movement and location will help you in the long run 🐐
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) November 19, 2020
The Dodgers have issued mass layoffs across the organization due to COVID-19.
The Los Angeles Angels have hired Perry Minasian to be their new GM.
Sliding Into Home
It’s wonderful to be back after almost two weeks. Does this job come with paid time off?
Of note, I carried a 100+ degree fever for 10 straight days but am now going on 72 hours with a normal body temperature. What a relief. I also lost well over 20 pounds, dropping all the way down to 227 as of this morning. Please wear a mask.
Jackie Robinson wasn’t the most talented Black ballplayer of his generation, but he was the man Branch Rickey deemed most capable of handling the challenges of being first. Imagine how baseball history might be rewritten had no color barrier existed.
On this day in 1949, Brooklyn Dodgers infielder Jackie Robinson was named the National League MVP after breaking the color barrier in April 1947. pic.twitter.com/1NwxPBdAdW
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 19, 2020
They Said It
- “The moments are so precious and such obvious lifetime memories that you almost don’t want to access them too often; yet, they are impossible not to watch — and make your heart skip a few beats — every time they pop on a screen. Our wildcard coming out party in Pittsburgh. Homer after homer to finally slay the Cardinals. A jaw-dropping comeback in San Francisco. A slam and a near perfect game to fell the Dodgers. The atmosphere around Wrigley before Game Three of the World Series — the first played here since 1945 — somehow at once a civic celebration and as tense and edgy as a city can feel. Our scouts and development people bursting with pride while walking around the track. Holding your breath for the entire second half of Game Five and a raucous exhale afterwards. The Game Six breakout. The highs and lows, and rain, and highs again, of Game Seven, which we all endured together, our stomachs clenched and our hearts beating with the fans around us and the generations before us. A little ground ball, a smile from KB, a slip, the ball in Rizz’s glove, and, finally, a collective catharsis and celebration that forever changed the Cubs experience. I am so grateful to you and the fans for everything you have given to this organization and for making this experience so meaningful.” – Theo Epstein
- “Every time a Cubs fan bumps into me at a bar, I’m buying from here forward, until Jed wins a World Series. Then, it’s on him.” – Epstein
Thursday Walk Up Song
Fever by the Black Keys – Well, you know.