Chicago sports teams are famous for running it back, so to speak, but Jed Hoyer sounds like he’s eager to break from tradition. The Cubs’ president of baseball operations is a lot of things, but I never would have considered him disruptive. His current attitude is refreshing nonetheless because it does sound like he intends to be quite busy this winter.
That doesn’t mean Hoyer is going to fire David Ross or disassemble and rebuild his roster. He does, however, realize that the team that stayed in the race for 161 of 162 games isn’t quite good enough to wholly return in its current iteration. Chicago’s piecemeal bullpen was exposed at the end of the season and Hoyer took full blame for that. He also hinted that the front office will continue to spend aggressively to improve the roster. I don’t think it’s one of those “felt cute, might delete later” moments designed to generate early hot stove interest, either.
The Cubs need help at the corners and reportedly have Pete Alonso in their sights, possibly to pair with Cody Bellinger. I don’t see how that works if the Cubs intend to start Pete Crow-Armstrong in center. Suffice it to say, I’m not ready to buy into that rumor even if Bruce Levine sure sounds convincing.
“The mumbling out there is that the Cubs are going to do everything they can for Pete Alonso from the Mets,” Levine told Matt Spiegel Monday night on 670 The Score. “Alonso is in the last year of a contract. And he’s one year away from being a free agent, much like Bellinger was. And the only difference, Matt, is that you’re going to have to trade something really good for him, even though there’s only one year left.”
David Stearns, New York’s new top executive, doesn’t seem very eager to trade Alonso. Pairing Bellinger with Matt Chapman at the corners might be fun, but I think better options exist in the trade market. If Alonso is not going to be available, maybe Alex Bregman will be. That said, I’m a believer in Matt Shaw‘s big bat and I’d like to see him get a shot at third base.
But let me get back to Hoyer, who is perfectly positioned to be an aggressive force this winter. The Cubs have an overabundance of good-to-great tradeable assets in the minor leagues, including a plethora of outfielders, middle infielders, and starting pitchers. They will also have to raise payroll and will likely breach the luxury tax threshold. Finding ways to shed Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly would provide a dynamic start to the hot stove shenanigans.
The shopping list remains the same as last winter. The Cubs need bench depth, big bullpen arms, and at least one frontline starter in addition to a couple of starting corners. The 2022-23 offseason was an exciting one for the team’s fans, and Hoyer sounds like he’s ready to go to that well again. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to watch it unfold.
Cubs News & Notes
- Hoyer and his front office entourage need to target velocity this winter.
- The executive defined the 2023 season with one sentence: “We didn’t finish the race.”
- Hoyer also acknowledged that the ballclub is in a great position to have a better ‘24, but understands that frustration is the prevailing feeling for the team and its fans alike right now.
- The final week of the season was also a time of reflection for many Cubs players.
- Ross received a big vote of confidence from Hoyer and is expected to return in 2024.
- Team chairman Tom Ricketts also voiced his faith in Ross.
- Alonso reportedly wants to join the Cubs next season according to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. That’s an intriguing twist. Rogers went on to say that Alonso would be willing to work out a reasonable contract extension with the Cubs as well, citing his agent’s familiarity with Hoyer.
- It certainly appears as if Kyle Hendricks will be back and the Cubs could rework his deal to keep him in town beyond 2024.
- Bellinger should be a priority signing this winter.
- It will be challenging to replace what Bellinger did for the Cubs if he goes elsewhere. The center fielder/first baseman led the majors with 75 RBI after July 1.
- Crow-Armstrong was named MiLB Defensive Player of the Year. Cade Horton was a runner-up for Breakout Prospect of the Year.
Odds & Sods
Few things are more fun than picking on the Cardinals and their fans.
— Redbird Rants (@FSRedbirdRants) October 4, 2023
Postseason News & Notes
- Zack Wheeler led the Phillies to a 4-1 win over the Mets.
- The Diamondbacks surprised the Brewers in Milwaukee, slugging their way to a 6-3 win over Corbin Burnes.
- Poor fielding by the Rays helped the Rangers to a Game 1 win in Tampa Bay.
- The Twins snapped an 18-game postseason losing streak when they beat the Blue Jays 3-1 Tuesday afternoon.
How About That!
Tom Dundon, the owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, wants to bring an MLB team to Charlotte when baseball expands to 32 teams.
Kim Ng of the Marlins is the first female GM to lead a team to the playoffs.
Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series between the Rays and the Rangers drew 19,704 fans. That’s the lowest attendance for an MLB playoff game (in a non-COVID season) since Game 7 of the 1919 World Series.
Sliding Into Home
Three of this year’s 12 playoff entries have never won a World Series. Can you guess them?
Rob Manfred might change the way baseball fans look at him if he can pull this off.
"[Eliminating blackouts] is business objective number one at Major League Baseball right now.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred discussed MLB's ongoing issue with local blackouts.
🎧 Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast pic.twitter.com/Vx2sbuJ4fQ
— Sports Business Journal (@SBJ) October 1, 2023
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- Heads up: If you’re in the US, your phone will vibrate with a message at 2:20 pm ET as the government conducts a nationwide test of its emergency alert system, the first time it’s spammed everyone in the country since 2021. Warnings will be broadcast on our televisions and radios, too. Big ups to FEMA for conducting its exercise before the start of today’s baseball games.
- Russia also tested its emergency public warning systems on Wednesday, blaring out sirens and interrupting some television and radio broadcasts to warn the population to stay calm.
- You won’t have Kevin McCarthy to kick around anymore. For the first time in US history, a House speaker was ordered by hand count to vacate his post.
- Chicago is set to become the second-biggest city in the country to eliminate subminimum wages for tipped employees. The city council could pass the law as early as today, and Mayor Brandon Johnson is expected to sign it. The measure would require the nearly 7,000 restaurants in the city to boost pay from around $9/hour to the city’s standard minimum wage of $15.80/hour for tipped workers like servers and bartenders.
- Opponents of the new law are primarily restaurant owners, who say their already razor-thin profits would force them to jack up menu prices and reduce staff. Supporters say relying on tips is an unsustainable way to make a living, however, and it can disproportionately harm minority workers.
- Dead & Co. has given up touring, but the current band featuring Bob Weir and John Mayer will still get together for special events and other one-off gigs.
They Said It
- “I know that the manager in a big market is always going to get criticism. There [were] always questions about what [Terry Francona] was doing. And he’s going to be in Cooperstown. That’s the nature of it.” – Hoyer
- “I think about what makes a great manager — you just have to create a clubhouse culture that can stand 162 days of intense scrutiny. I think that in terms of getting players comfortable and motivated, I don’t know if there’s anyone better. Rossy had a great season and the players played hard for him. He’s our guy.” – Tom Ricketts
- “It was fun to watch, but we just didn’t finish the race.” – Hoyer
- “I trust [the Cubs front office] so much. We’ve had such a good relationship the whole time I’ve been here. I really respect the heck out of them [and] all the opportunities they’ve given me.” – Hendricks
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Kudos to Hoyer if he truly intends to shift Chicago’s paradigm.