The Rundown: Hoyer Operating in Stealth Mode, White Sox Make Another Big Move, Hank Aaron Award Winners Announced
I’m starting to wonder if new president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer is aware that the virtual Winter Meetings are taking place this week. We’ve heard nary a word from the executive in quite some time and trying to find verifiable rumors regarding his ballclub is an exercise in futility. Perhaps the budget reckoning moves he made at the non-tender deadline have left him a little fatigued.
I certainly don’t want to negatively compare Hoyer to predecessor Theo Epstein, but when I go back to the last few years’ meetings via search here at Cubs Insider, there was Chicago baseball news, and a lot of it, reported on an almost daily basis. Even when Epstein did nothing, it was news. Not so much with his replacement, who by the way celebrated a birthday on Monday.
Join us in wishing a happy birthday to Jed Hoyer! pic.twitter.com/ZuX5cthDCu
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 7, 2020
Sure, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the 2021 season, and though it seems like the White Sox are the only active team during the cyberspace meetings this week, one would think that there would be some leak of information on the opposite side of town. It would be nice to have a talking point or two surrounding rumors that the Cubs might be considering a few trades or low-level free agent signings, but nothing has dropped.
If anything, Kris Bryant and Javier Báez are probably sleeping a little better these days.
Does that mean Hoyer will be less transparent than Epstein? We don’t know. All we really know is that the newly minted executive operates in stealth mode for the most part. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen, but undeniably, and quite the opposite of his mentor, Hoyer prefers not to reveal his show cards.
Perhaps we’ll see some activity involving the North Side baseballers today. In the meantime, those who are afraid the Cubs may trade one or more of their favorite players can be thankful for the dearth of information.
Cubs News & Notes
- Vice President of Player Development Matt Dorey talked about some of the Cubs’ prospects on NBC Sports Chicago’s latest Cubs Talk podcast.
- Hitting Coach Anthony Iapoce has a very tight bond with his new assistant, Chris Valaika, who was recently promoted from his position as minor league hitting coordinator.
- The Cubs are expected to name retired White Sox infielder Willie Harris as their new third base coach, replacing Will Venable, who joined the Red Sox staff last month.
- Rumors and discernible news tidbits from the Cubs camp during these Winter Meetings have been relatively absent, which is almost compelling when you think about it.
Odds & Sods
What is MLB if not a study in the paucity of reliable information shared between the powers that run the game and those who play it?
Re: The universal DH:
1. NL teams have been told to work under the assumption they will have no DH next season.
2. Almost everyone you talk to at the team level assumes there WILL be a universal DH in 2021, after MLB-PA talks.
3. The lack of clarity is affecting early bidding.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 9, 2020
The Mets appear to be the favorites to sign outfielder George Springer, at least in Buster Olney’s view.
The Royals and first baseman Carlos Santana have agreed to a two-year, $17.5 million deal. I believe Kansas City is the only team to have given multi-year deals to the free agents they’ve signed.
The White Sox have signed outfielder Adam Eaton to a one-year, $7 million deal that includes a team option for 2022.
What does Eaton’s deal tell us about the future of Kyle Schwarber and the free agent market in general?
The new White Sox outfielder is actually making a return to the South Side and yesterday he hung up on radio hosts Carmen and Jurko of ESPN 1000 when asked a question about new manager Tony La Russa. Welcome back, Adam.
Right-hander Matt Wisler agreed to a one-year, $1.15 million contract with the Giants. Wisler, 28, was 0-1 with a 1.07 ERA and one save over 18 outings with four starts covering 25⅓ innings with the Twins last season.
First basemen Freddie Freeman of the Braves and José Abreu of the White Sox have been named this year’s Hank Aaron Award winners as outstanding offensive performers in each league.
Sam McWilliams, a career minor leaguer who last pitched in 2019, finishing that season with an 8.18 ERA, had been one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market until the Mets gave him a major league contract the other day. The story is fascinating.
New Mets owner Steve Cohen has truly been a breath of fresh air.
Apparently the Twins and Indians have seceded from the AL Central.
Chicago #WhiteSox now the team to beat in the AL Central after making their moves https://t.co/KpQlxuX3fq
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 8, 2020
In case you are unaware, I am now writing a daily column at Bears Insider, and if you don’t mind me saying so, I believe my insights aren’t too shabby. A quote from today’s post, which should be up later this morning: “Let’s face it, the Bears’ 5-1 start is nothing but a mirage at this point, one of life’s unexplained mysteries, like UFOs or really hairy hands.”
Jon, Evan, and I are doing a nice job over there, so please follow us and subscribe to that site if you don’t mind.
The comments section for this column has been absolute fire this week and last, and I’ve had to answer to a few contributors who sometimes disagree with me, which kind of caught me off guard. Please keep up the great work. My role here is simply to provide fodder for discussion and I love the banter, both positive and argumentative. The fact that we are talking Cubs baseball when there really isn’t any significant team news to speak of is a testament to each of you. Your contributions in the comments section are always welcome. Keep it up, please and thank you.
If you’ve ever seen the IFC show Brockmire, it appears former Reds announcer Tom Brenneman is following a similar career path as that of the fictional announcer. Brenneman was hired to do play-by-play for the Roberto Clemente League in Puerto Rico.
“There’s a lot to be thankful for,” said the real-life disgraced announcer. “I know that for a lot of people, including me,  has not been the best of years. But when you take three or four steps back and look at all the blessings and gifts you’ve been given in your life, there’s still a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to.”
Out of Left Field
Speaking of broadcasters…they turn so fast. That’s a shame.
Referring to my last tweet, i wasn’t trolling. So chills pic.twitter.com/ENW3scD6hH
— Julian 🎄 (@Julian4948) December 8, 2020
They Said It
- “From a developmental lens, I thought [the alternate site at South Bend] was huge for some of those young guys. Not just what they saw on the field but to be around a group of veteran upper minor league players — a lot of them had major league service time — to see how they went about their business day-to-day [and] how they prepared. I think that’s gonna be huge for them moving forward in their development.” – Matt Dorey
Wednesday Walk Up Song
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory by Johnny Thunders – I still can’t shake the feeling that Hoyer is going to burn this thing to the ground and start over. By the way, this song is everything rock and roll should be, and has been covered by more artists than you’d probably believe.