Cubs News: It’s time to trust Jed Hoyer, he’s earned it
Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

Cubs News: It’s time to trust Jed Hoyer, he’s earned it

by - Staff Writer -

The ground is still settling from the shocking announcement that the Cubs had fired David Ross and hired Craig Counsell. The one person who has been brought to the spotlight potentially more than anyone amidst the announcement has been Cubs president of baseball operations, Jed Hoyer.

Hoyer came over to the Cubs initially in 2011 with Theo Epstein and served as general manager under Epstein from 2012 to 2020. After that COVID-19 shortened season, Theo Epstein left the Cubs one year early and handed the keys to Jed Hoyer.

Epstein and Hoyer’s regime will forever be remembered for constructing the team that broke the curse and won the 2016 World Series. However, it was tough sledding after that for a multitude of reasons. The Cubs’ promise of sustained success and a player development juggernaut never quite panned out — the Cubs needed to replenish pitching and hitting depth that wasn’t coming from the farm system through free agency, which led to high payrolls, lack of depth and disappointing finishes. Tom Ricketts became hesitant to allow the front office to spend bigger, and the lack of production on the field forced the Cubs to face another rebound down the barrel.

By the time the looming 2021 season approached (which was the final year of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber’s arbitration years.) Epstein was loyal to the players who won the World Series, potentially to a fault. Still, he was never able to extend or move on from any of them — leaving the Cubs’ roster in a bit of purgatory and thus leaving Hoyer in charge of cleaning up the mess.

Hoyer then had to become the man who had to part with the World Series legend. The 2021 season was emotional for a multitude of reasons. The Cubs non-tendered Kyle Schwarber following the 2020 season and traded (then Cy Young runner-up) Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the San Diego Padres for four prospects and Zach Davies. Hoyer also made the hard decision not to retain Jon Lester when his wildly successful contract expired.

Then, at the 2021 trade deadline, Hoyer made trades that sent away Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez. Hoyer didn’t stop there, as he dished out Craig Kimbrel, Trevor Williams, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Jon Pederson, and Jake Marisnick.

“No reason to go halfway.”

During a disappointing following season, Hoyer traded away Scott Effross, Mychal Givens, Chris Martin, and David Robertson at the 2022 trade deadline. After the season ended, Hoyer also decided not to bring back Willson Contreras.

Hoyer had made difficult decisions to part ways with not only six members of the World Series core but also parted ways with an additional dozen players.

And despite the emotions that came with those moves at the time, they all looked correct for the most part.

Kyle Schwarber is the one that got away, it appears. Despite having a batting average well below the Mendoza line for the majority of the time since he left Chicago, Schwarber has hit 125 home runs in three seasons since he left. That’s more than Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, and Jason Hayward have had combined since leaving the Cubs.

Since leaving the Cubs, Javier Baez has hit an abysmal .239 with just 35 home runs and 148 RBI in over 300 games combined with the Mets and the Tigers. In 2018, Baez hit .290, clubbed 34 home runs, and drove in 111 runs in just one season.

Kris Bryant has continued to battle injuries and struggle to find the power he once had. In two and a half seasons since Hoyer let Bryant go, he has appeared in just 173 games for the Giants and Rockies — and has just 22 home runs and 67 RBI. He has eclipsed those numbers in five of his six full seasons with Chicago.

Anthony Rizzo has seen his average and on-base percentage dip with the Yankees since he left the Cubs. Rizzo has been the most successful of the three, thanks to a 32-homer campaign in 2022 — but an injury-riddled 2023 campaign appears the Cubs were on the right track in thinking the now 34-year-old’s career was winding down.

This is a smaller sample size, but the Cubs chose to keep Yan Gomes as the starting catcher and let Willson Contreras go. The numbers of the pitching staff improved drastically, but Gomes was a better hitter this year. Their numbers look similar by the end, but Gomes had a rough September, and Contreras got hot toward the end of the season, playing in many meaningless games.

Contreras hit 20 home runs, and we’ve known the power was an element of his game. But he was in the headlines for losing his starting catcher role in a largely disappointing Cardinals season.

It doesn’t stop there. Kimbrel, Tepera, Chafin, Darvish — not one player has had a better year since they left Chicago than the years they had in Chicago, except Jason Hayward, who turned in a surprising .813 OPS with 15 home runs for the Dodgers.

The point is that Hoyer made some tough, unpopular decisions as President of Baseball Operations. But they have all put the Cubs in a better position as an organization.

Their farm system is one of the tops in the league. There are no bad contracts on the books. The pitching infrastructure is dramatically improved. They have money to spend.

Hoyer has displayed an ability to disconnect emotions from baseball decisions. He has been able to remove the name from the production — and the contract from the human. As a result, the Cubs are in as good a shape as they have been organizationally since 2016.

Those qualities were on display Monday.

In a shocking move, Hoyer parted with the handpicked fan favorite David Ross as manager and elected to spend a record contract to acquire Craig Counsell to be manager of the Cubs.

Ross wasn’t bad at his job, but Counsell is better.

The move shows Hoyer’s willingness to be aggressive and further illustrates his ability to make hard decisions and part with fan favorites to improve the team.

“I feel like I have a responsibility to the city, to the fanbase to winning as many games short-term and long-term as I can, and this felt like it checked that box,” Hoyer told reporters.

If Hoyer was willing to do this. You have to expect he will be ready to make some big splashes and spend some big money as well. Hoyer’s number one priority is the Chicago Cubs — not his friends, organizational legends, or reputation… the Cubs.

It’s time to trust Jed; he’s earned it.

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