Results tagged ‘ Carrie Muskat ’

From the Pages of Vine Line: Q&A with GM Jed Hoyer (Part 2)

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

For the April issue of Vine Line, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat sat down with Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer to talk about the 2013 Cubs, the differences between this season and last, and what to look for as the organization moves forward.

In the second part of our three-part interview, Hoyer talks about the organization’s young prospects, including slugging Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler and highly touted shortstop Javier Baez. So far this season, both Daytona Cubs players have shown promise at the plate. After just two games, Soler recorded a .333 batting average in nine at-bats, and Baez held a .250 average with one double, one home run and three RBI.

To read the entire interview, pick up the April issue or subscribe to Vine Line today. And check out part one of our interview here.

Vine Line: Fans were eager to see prospects like Jorge Soler and Javier Baez this spring. How excited were you to get a closer look at them?

Jed Hoyer: I’ll be honest, I look forward to the sixth through ninth innings [in Spring Training] more than I look forward to the first five innings. We’ll watch the veteran guys all year. Watching [Jeff] Samardzija the other day, he was clearly working on his off-speed stuff. The results weren’t the most important thing to him. When you get a chance to see Baez and Soler now, it’s nice. During the season, we’ll have to go to different minor league cities to see those guys, but getting a chance to see the young players up close is something we cherish, because we can’t do that all season.

VL: How important was it to have these kids in big league Spring Training camp?

JH: You want to see those guys learn. Seeing Baez standing next to Dale [Sveum] during the game, seeing Soler following Castro around—it’s really important that they see what it’s all about. They’re going to go off to the minor leagues this year, and they’re too busy to have a chance to watch many of our games. Now they get to see how we do things. We kind of joke about slowing things down just because there’s a lot of development left with all these guys. When they get up to the big leagues, they’ll have their struggles as well. It doesn’t mean they’re not really good prospects. Their time is not now. We have to temper ourselves all the time. As a result, we encourage the fans and media to do the same thing. It is a long process.

VL: Cubs fans have seen other highly touted prospects like Félix Pié and Corey Patterson fail to live up to the hype. How are Baez and Soler different?

JH: The truth of the matter is, there is an attrition rate with prospects. There’s no question our goal is to build up a ton of them. I’m glad we’re talking about multiple names now and not just one. I think when you start talking about just one, there’s a lot of danger. I hope this isn’t the best farm system we have. We want to be really deep, so when there is that natural attrition, some guys will outperform expectations and some guys will underperform expectations. I certainly hope not, but it’s the reality.

You grab a top 100 list from Baseball America and flip through it five years later, and there are guys who miss. I don’t think anyone is immune to that. That’s why we want to build up a lot of depth. That’s why having good drafts and doing well internationally is important. You need depth to make sure you get the best nine guys on the field, the best five starting pitchers.

VL: Everyone wants to know when guys like Baez, Soler and Albert Almora will get to the big leagues. Do you have a timetable for them?

JH: The players will determine that, not us. I want nothing more than for these guys to pound the door down and make it clear they’re ready. I think the worst thing we can do is speed up their development for the sake of some arbitrary timetable. They need to go level to level. They need to show they can control the strike zone. They need to show they’re ready. When they are, certainly, we want them here. At the same time, I don’t think we should look at it that we’re controlling it; they control it.

VL: At the Winter Meetings, you talked about how some players can’t use youth as an excuse anymore. What did you mean by that?

JH: Until you’re a true veteran player, you’ll learn new things and make mistakes. … But at some point, you’re not a young player anymore. I think Starlin [Castro] is getting close to that point. He’s probably not quite there yet. A guy [Ian} Stewart’s age, youth isn’t something you can use. [Anthony] Rizzo isn’t quite there either. He’ll probably still have some ups and downs.

You want to get to that point where you have young veterans­—that’s your ideal. If you look at the history of the game, the best players break in young, they have their ups and downs, and they start to establish themselves when they’re 24 or 25 years old. That’s what we want to build is that young group that’s been around for a while. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but the younger these guys break in, the more they can make their mistakes early and be ready in their mid-20s. That was a big part of us extending Castro’s [contract] as far as we did. He’s a 23-year-old guy who is going into his fourth season, and that’s a great thing for us.

From the Pages of Vine Line: Q&A with GM Jed Hoyer (Part 1)

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The end of Spring Training marked the beginning of Year Two for Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer. Besides knowing his way around Wrigleyville a little better, he also comes into 2013 with a much improved feel for the organization, at both the major league and minor league levels.

The 2012 Cubs had their share of on-field struggles, so Hoyer spent much of his second offseason with the organization finding ways to improve on last year’s meager win total. But Hoyer has a plan, and he doesn’t want to deviate from it. His focus was on finding players who fit what the Cubs are trying to do.

Part of that plan included making the new front office’s first big free-agent splash, adding 29-year-old right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson, who the team signed to a four-year, $52 million deal in January. Other notable acquisitions included low-risk, high-reward signings like right-handers Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva, and outfielders Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston.

For the April issue of Vine Line, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat sat down with Hoyer to talk about the 2013 Cubs, the differences between this season and last, and what to look for as the organization moves forward. We’ll post some of the quotes here on the blog in the next few weeks. To read the entire interview, pick up the April issue or subscribe to Vine Line today.

Vine Line: Coming off a rough year in 2012, what was your top priority this offseason?

Jed Hoyer: As an organization, we’re still not where we want to be from a pitching standpoint. I think that probably the biggest weakness when we got here was depth in pitching, especially at the upper levels. Ideally, you want to home-grow all of your pitching. We don’t have that luxury right now, so we actively sought out a lot of starting pitching. We brought in four guys we see as starters: [Edwin] Jackson, [Scott] Feldman, [Scott] Baker and [Carlos] Villanueva. We’ve had some injuries and setbacks this spring, but we feel we can weather that storm. That was certainly a priority for the offseason.

VL: Jackson’s contract—four years, $52 million—surprised some fans because of the length and amount.

JH: The biggest thing with him is his age. He’s been really durable. He’ll pitch this year at 29 years old. Our goal is to create a really good, young team. At some point, we know we’ll have to delve into free agency. You can’t wait and do it all at once. Signing a 29-year-old pitcher to a four-year deal, we felt, was the right thing to do. Getting him at this age, we feel he still has some upside left and that it was a prudent decision. We’re excited to have him.

VL: Ian Stewart struggled last year and was sidelined by a wrist injury. Why did you decide to bring him back?

JH: We’re not really sure we saw the best of Ian last year. He had the wrist injury, and he never felt 100 percent. We had a lot of discussions about that in the offseason and decided to bring him back, given he had the wrist surgery. We felt he’d be ready to go. Unfortunately, he had a setback early in the spring. I still feel the wrist was an issue with his hitting, but we don’t know how much it affected him last year. We thought the right thing to do was bring him back. It’s hard to find third basemen in today’s game. He’s a really good defender, he’s a left-handed hitter, he has power. There’s a lot there, and hopefully we can unlock it.

VL: How different was this spring compared to last year?

JH: It’s a lot different. I went through the same thing in San Diego when I went there in 2010. I felt so much more comfortable in 2011. Your first year is a blur. Theo and I talk about that all the time. Every face is new from a player standpoint, coaching staff, media, staff. Now you know people, so you feel more comfortable. Even with the players, that’s the biggest thing. It’s a lot different spring in a good way. We hope not to make any changes any time soon and hope to become part of the fabric of the Cubs going forward.

Hot off the presses: November 2011 Vine Line sneak peek

It’s an issue you won’t want to miss. Theo Epstein graces the cover of our November issue, and we begin our offseason coverage with an in-depth look at a new era in Cubs baseball operations. Along with our cover feature—which includes exclusive quotes from our one-on-one interview with Epstein—we also take a look at the example Theo set in Boston and how his tack to modernize the Cubs organization echoes the circumstances in which Dallas Green did so 30 years ago.

We also continue our look from top to bottom of the Cubs organization with a pair of features. Marlon Byrd lends Vine Line readers an introspective look at his 2011 season and place in the game today in a series of blog posts by the Cubs center fielder. For those of you who have enjoyed Doug Glanville’s “The Game From Where I Stand” and other columns, Byrd offers an insight and competitiveness that sets an example worth following.

It’s one you hope is set for the next generation of Cubs, almost 50 of whom were getting one-on-one training in the Arizona instructional league last month. Cubs.com’s Carrie Muskat and Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks give an in-depth look at the work being done with some of the organization’s youngest players.

All that and more in the November 2011 issue of Vine Line hitting mailboxes this week. Be a part of an exciting new chapter at Wrigley Field by subscribing to or giving the gift of Vine Line today.


More inside this issue:

  • Picnic in the park: Fans fill Wrigley Field for a Ferris Bueller Movie Night.
  • Inside Pitch: Addressing the rotation.
  • Glory Days: 9 innings with Todd Hollandsworth.
  • The Profile: DJ LeMahieu.
  • Stretching Out with Martin Sheen.
  • Farm Report: Daytona Cubs win the Florida State League championship.
  • Minors Tracker: 2011 season statistics, plus Future Watch by Kevin Goldstein

Follow your 2009 Cubs tonight

opening_day_76.gifFirst pitch is less than two hours away in Houston, where the Cubs will be taking on the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Tonight’s 6:05 p.m. game is on Comcast SportsNet and WGN Radio. So, Cubs fans, where will you be watching the official start to the 2009 campaign? Start the discussion in the comments.

Courtesy of cubs.com beat writer Carrie Muskat, here’s the Cubs lineup:

LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Kosuke Fukudome
1B Derrek Lee
RF Milton Bradley
3B Aramis Ramirez
2B Mike Fontenot
C Geovany Soto
SS Ryan Theriot
RHP Carlos Zambrano

Click the jump link below for the complete 2009 Opening Day 25-man roster.

Enjoy Game 1!

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Ho, Ho, Kam! Merry Cubs fans!

Thumbnail image for ON LOCATION LOGO.jpgMESA, Ariz.–It’s the first workout for the Cubs at HoHoKam Park, and everyone’s here today. While it’s just business as usual for the team, stretching, batting practice, bullpen sessions, it’s a big deal for everyone else. First off, the media. National writers Bob Nightengale, Jerry Crasnick, Alan Schwarz and Phil Rogers (he was at Fitch yesterday) are all here to check out our team. But more importantly, more than a handful of Cubs fans have showed up to hang out and watch the Cubs workout.

And everywhere you go–Starbucks, souvenir shops, stores or restaurants, people are talking about the start of Spring Training.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Z_Fontenot_shoot_1.jpgBy the way, there was an AP photo in some of the local papers today showing Carlos Zambrano and Mike Fontenot doing their pregame ritual. LIke I mentioned in my blog yesterday, that was a photo shoot set up specifically for our 2009 gameday program CUBS2009. Here (right) is one of the authentic photos from the shoot. 

Also, frequent photo contributor to Vine Line Chris Bernacchi added this perspective to photo day (below). Pretty interesting. I feel like I’m watching an old 70s episode of “Batman” with Adam West and Burt Ward. OK, I just dated myself really badly there.

photo set up.jpgOur “In the Dugout” session went extremely well, with Lou offering me 30 minutes of his time, which is a lot considering he had to fit lunch and me in between practice and a photo shoot with Aquafina. While the shoot was going on, we could hear the agency people and Lou yelling. But he wasn’t being cantankerous, they were simulating an argument with an umpire. But it cracked up media relations director Peter Chase.

And lastly, I conducted a roundtable discussion with Cubs beat writers Carrie Muskat, Paul Sullivan and Gordon Wittenmyer. It was interesting to get the perspectives from seasoned vets like them. We talked about travel, players, the journalism industry, the competitive nature of journalism, technology.

Tomorrow: The first Cactus League game. Like Lou said: “I got 39 games to figure things out. We got plenty of time.”

–Mike Huang

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