The Rundown: Giving Jed Hoyer a Little Love, Báez Carrying Big Chip This Season, This Week’s Baseball Book & Flick

Happy Saturday. How you doin’ today?

I was suffering from a minor case of writer’s bock this morning and when I looked for ideas for Cubs-related articles a web search reveals a lot of the same stuff. So I thought I’d give Jed Hoyer a little press if you don’t mind. The Cubs GM is usually an afterthought or bullet point in most of the stories that focus on Theo Epstein.

I don’t want to get into corporate hierarchy, but in the executive world of MLB, the president of baseball operations is just a glorified GM, while the GM seems to slot in nicely as an assistant GM. In the case of the Cubs, I’d bet all decisions are made jointly by both with Epstein having final authority. It works nicely for the Cubs, and since Epstein was acquired in a trade with Boston, other teams have emulated Chicago’s front office structure.

Yes, the Cubs sent relievers Chris Carpenter and Aaron Kurcz to Boston as compensation for Epstein. The Cubs also received the younger brother of Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts.  Oops, there I go, giving all kinds of credit to one individual when I said I was going to talk about the other. It’s a natural progression of thought for all of us.

Did you know Hoyer’s middle name is Room? I find that fascinating. The move to acquire Jed Room Hoyer from the Padres seemed somewhat understated in the grand scheme of building Team Theo but it was certainly no small move. To view Hoyer as little more than a Theo aide is underestimating both the position and the individual. There is little doubt that the two share a mutual respect and admiration for one another.

Hoyer does not possess the analytics background that his boss does, according to his parents.

“Our family finds it sort of hilarious the way he’s portrayed as this computer nerd or stats guy because while he was good in math, he was never particularly interested in it,” mom Annie Hoyer told ESPN’s Melissa Isaacson back in 2011.

Hoyer just loves baseball, and marries traditional scouting in perfect harmony with Epstein’s focus on analytics. In fact, it was his love of the game that helped to successfully persuade the Red Sox to hire him as an intern back in 2002 while he was a management consultant in emerging technology. Prior to that, Hoyer was assistant dean of admissions at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where he graduated in 1996. Hoyer also served as assistant baseball coach at his alma mater.

Hoyer played baseball at Wesleyan, both as a shortstop and pitcher, and once started both games of a doubleheader. He still holds the team’s single season saves record. With the Red Sox he quickly became Epstein’s confidante and, more importantly, a trusted advisor and sounding board.

The two have been inseparable ever since, with only Hoyer’s two-year stint as GM of the Padres breaking the pair up. When Epstein joined the Cubs, Hoyer was almost immediately acquired from San Diego for a player to be named later. I’m not kidding. The two men most responsible for building the team that led to the Cubs’ first championship in 108 years were acquired for a few not-so-magic beans and a lightly regarded promise.

Jed and Theo are so tight that it’s been rumored that Epstein is the ghost writer for Hoyer’s mysterious Twitter account, which, as of this date, has just two tweets. Fun aside, Hoyer brings significant currency to the Cubs executive team.

“[Theo] creates a really flat hierarchy.” Hoyer explained. “Maybe that comes from Kevin (Towers, the late baseball exec whose own philosophy heavily influenced members of the Cubs’ front office), I’ve never really asked him if that was where he started it.” That organizational structure is responsible for fielding a team that counts 387 wins over its past four seasons.

A quick aside: When Epstein served as the Red Sox GM and went on a brief hiatus following the 2005 season, Hoyer ran the team as part of what Boston newspapers called the “Gang of Four” and helped to acquire pitcher Josh Beckett from the Marlins. Beckett helped the Red Sox to their first World Series championship since 1918 two years later. Hoyer’s son, born in December 2011, is named Beckett.

Cubs News & Notes

Rundown Rewind

This Week’s Baseball Read

The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter. In the mid-1960’s, Columbia University professor Lawrence Ritter put 75,000 miles on his car driving around the United States, interviewing aging ballplayers. The result was the finest baseball book and one of the best oral histories for any subject. Particularly relevant now that baseball is skewing heavily toward younger rosters. YouTube has an accompanying video series that is free to view. This is the best baseball book I’ve ever read.

Weekend Flick to Pick

Bull Durham – How do you not love this movie? Ron Shelton’s comedic look at minor league baseball contrasts the careers of aging career minor league catcher Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and bonus baby, hot-shot rookie pitcher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins). It’s nearly impossible to pick a best scene from this movie, and even a top 10 list would be highly debatable. It’s number one in the Holy Trinity of Costner baseball vehicles with Field of Dreams and For Love of the Game. Great soundtrack, too.

Extra Innings

A deep dive into the Cubs Insider archives revealed this gem of an article by Evan Altman from February, 2014. You know what? Baseball dads are the best dads in the world and Evan’s wonderful post is living proof. If you have a story of taking your child to his or her first baseball game, please share it in the comments below.

Saturday Walk Up Song

Winning Streak by Glen Hansard. The Cubs offense is looking really good this spring.

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