The Rundown: Hoyer Misses Playoff Baseball, Hawkins Speaks, Cards Cursed, Mets Mets’d

There was no baseball yesterday, but having quite a bit of Cubs news made for a pleasant postseason holiday. Jed Hoyer met with the media to provide his assessment of the 2022 season and beyond, and guess what? The president of baseball operations misses Cubs playoff baseball. As my father would say, “Hey pal, join the club.”

I could probably post 1,000-1,500 words just by quoting Mr. Hoyer, but that would be lazy journalism so I’ll just stick to the meaty stuff. Hoyer, who is by nature very opaque, gave as clear an indication as he ever has that he intends to spend money on the open market.

“I want to build on the momentum that we created at the end of the year,” Hoyer said. “I think we can definitely compete next year, and we also want to create something lasting and special. We’re always going to have to keep those two things in mind. But I do believe a successful offseason does involve filling those holes that I know we saw.”

I don’t know what holes the executive saw, but I have a few in mind: left-handed power, someone to replace Nick Madrigal, a top-of-rotation starter, a closer, a center fielder, and a first baseman. Brennen Davis and Matt Mervis will be given every opportunity to fill those last two holes, and Hoyer can go a number of different ways to replace Madrigal. Every week I change my free agent target, and this week I’m all about Xander Bogaerts. Trea Turner was my choice last week and next week it will probably be Carlos Correa.

The promotion of minor league players excites me, though. It would be nice to see the Cubs sign depth pieces like Jonathan Villar and Andrelton Simmons to compete for utility positions rather than as starters. As long as I’m filing complaints, I’m also sick of the club’s Iowa-Chicago shuffle. My head is spinning after two straight seasons of 60+ players.

None of that means anything unless the Cubs sign a big arm. I love Justin Steele, Hayden Wesneski, and Ben Brown. Jordan Wicks and Caleb Kilian are on the come. Kyle Hendricks and Marcus Stroman are quality veterans. Heck, I’m not opposed to keeping Drew Smyly. But Chicago needs to start spring training with a pitcher like Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander leading their rotation. Hoyer has to make that happen before I buy his offseason rhetoric. I’ve heard it too many times before.

That said, I’ll give ol’ Jed the benefit of the doubt this morning. He sounded as impassioned as ever and I didn’t feel the urge to hit the snooze button at any point during his presser. That has to be a good thing, right?

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

I still hate the Mets just as much as the Cardinals, so this is priceless.

Postseason News & Notes

The Phillies have signed manager Rob Thomson to a two-year contract for the 2023 and ’24 seasons, Dave Dombrowski announced Monday.

Rookie of the Year candidate Spencer Strider signed a six-year extension with the Braves.

It looks like the Giants and Evan Longoria will be parting ways. San Francisco is planning to decline Longoria’s option.

Pete Putila has been named San Francisco’s new GM, replacing Scott Harris, who left to become the president of baseball operations for the Tigers.

The Yankees have been named as the leading candidate to sign deGrom this winter.

Cardinals fans and their beat writers are disgusted with the continuing postseason failures in St. Louis. If you’re looking for a Cardinals curse, look no further than their 2015 playoff loss to the Cubs.

Everybody loves an upset, so which Cinderella team do you think is most likely to advance to the LCS? I’m sticking with the Guardians.

I’m starting to think Rob Manfred gives interviewers a list of allowable questions so that he always has the same canned response prepared.

Álex Rodríguez would like baseball to “own” Independence Day in the same ways that Thanksgiving belongs to the NFL, Christmas to the NBA, and New Year’s Day to NCAA Football.

A new grip enhancer created by a Massachusetts startup could be a game-changer for Major League Baseball.

Extra Innings

That feeling when the Mets and Cardinals fail to advance. P.S. – I really want that jersey Ron Santo is wearing.

Tuesday Morning Six-Pack

  1. Matt Eberflus said he wants his team to start more quickly and finish stronger. The Bears’ head coach also said that Justin Fields had his best game as a pro on Sunday.
  2. Prepare for an onslaught of Christmas commercials this week. Retail has been in a three-year slump, most stores are overstocked right now, and the industry wants to jumpstart the shopping season. Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Kohl’s have entered the holiday shopping fray with sales incentivizing consumers to shop early.
  3. Apple’s new iPhone 14 and Apple Watch models, which have a function called “crash detection,” have been mistakenly calling 911 over roller coaster rides and other noncollisions. That’s gotta be fun for first responders and families alike. One motorcyclist’s new phone alerted his emergency contacts (his mother and girlfriend) that he had been in a crash after the device flew off his handlebars onto the highway.
  4. Planning on loading the wife and kids into the Family Truckster and touring America? Make time for the oddest attraction in every state. What a long, strange trip it will be.
  5. Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t buying any of Tom Cruise’s BS. I urge you to read the entire Twitter thread.
  6. You love them, and I love them. Discover everything you ever wanted to know about some of the greatest one-hit wonders that are turning 50 years old this decade.

They Said It

  • “We want to make sure that what we build creates year after year after year of being in the playoffs. Giving [our] fans what they deserve, which is October baseball.” – Hoyer
  • “To me, intelligent spending involves making decisions that make sense for the 2023 season but also aren’t going to hinder what we’re trying to build. The nature of baseball contracts is challenging that way. We’ve all seen contracts of certain lengths that can really bog a team down. It’s easy to talk about the player you’re acquiring. But if that contract ends up hindering the ultimate goal here, which is to build something special and sustainable and lasting, then it wasn’t a good transaction.” – Hoyer

Tuesday Walk-Up Song

One of the better one-hit wonders, but man, what a trippy video.

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