The Rundown: Hoyer Moving at Turtle’s Pace, Blue Jays Favorites to Land Bellinger, $300 Million Offers Eluding Yamamoto

The Cubs are having a bummer of a winter, so I tried to get excited about the Bears’ playoff chances, only to be disappointed on that front this weekend. I know Chicago will be a dominant sports town someday, it just may not be in my lifetime. I’d also like to write more positive articles but the various Chicago ownership groups won’t give me that opportunity.

Somebody needs to wake Jed Hoyer up from his winter hibernation. We’re less than a week away from Christmas and he’s spending like Tom Ricketts gave him Billy Beane’s budget. There may be two billion in projected contracts hanging in the stratosphere, but there’s not much in the cupboard once that first $500 million is spent. Hoyer did sign LHP Thomas Pannone to a minor league deal yesterday, generating similar excitement to when Tommy Hottovy was signed back in 2013. Perhaps Pannone, who was once a Cubs draft pick, is destined to be part of Chicago’s instructional team.

Hoyer tends to be a little too cute when building his bullpen and he is either going to succeed or go down in flames with that piecemeal approach. Craig Counsell might be worth eight wins over David Ross, but losing Cody Bellinger and Marcus Stroman is the great equalizer. That means the Cubs are a 75-to-83-win team, sans the bullpen additions of Pannone and Edwin Escobar, and catcher Jorge Alfaro, of course.

No wonder Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney are staying the heck away from CubsCon next month. I’d trade Sammy Sosa for Hoyer right about now were I the chairman. Yes, I’m that frustrated. And no, I won’t sugarcoat things.

When Counsell pushed Ross to the unemployment line, a lot of fans feared the move signaled Hoyer’s desire to run it back with a frugal, Brewers-like payroll in 2024. Nobody knows for sure because Hoyer often speaks in confounding sentences with repetitive caveats and backtracking innuendo. I don’t know if he’s trying to be coy or just struggles with literacy when thrust into the spotlight.

“I’ve been pretty open, I don’t love the idea of long deals,” the president of baseball operations said during the Winter Meetings. “It’s hard to see into the future that well. You’re betting on human beings with bones and ligaments and all those different things. But certainly, there are times when a player’s talent [makes] it make sense to do that. So, yeah, in theory, you’d love to keep deals shorter. If you have to pay a little more per year, I think it makes sense to do that, to make your future that much more nimble. But there are times when it makes sense to [go longer].”

Am I taking crazy pills here? His parents should ask for a full refund if that’s the type of rationalization that comes with an Ivy League education. Let me quote the transcendental song “Terrapin Station” by the Grateful Dead.

“The obvious was hidden, with nothing to believe in the compass always points to Terrapin. Sullen wings of fortune beat like rain. You’re back in Terrapin for good or ill again.”

According to the Annotated Grateful Dead, a wonderful compendium of ontology by David Dobbs, Terrapin represents the slowness of natural evolution, as opposed to spiritual evolution, which is rapid or discontinuous to a degree. Let’s refer to Hoyer as “The Great Tortoise” going forward, and welcome to Chicago, Mr. Pannone. Hottovy better watch his back.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

My bad, the Athletics have outspent the Cubs. So have the Cardinals, Reds, Pirates, and Brewers. I’m firing my fact-checker later this morning.

Central Intelligence

Tuesday Stove

The Astros aren’t actively shopping Framber Valdez, but that hasn’t stopped teams from calling about his availability.

The bidding for free-agent pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto has yet to hit $300 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

That contradicts a rumor that the Giants and Red Sox topped that benchmark with their offers.

San Francisco signed catcher Tom Murphy to a two-year deal worth $8 million.

The Braves released veteran Cubs-killer Matt Carpenter just days after acquiring him from the Padres.

Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuña Jr. are this year’s recipients of the Hank Aaron Award for most outstanding offensive player.

Extra Innings

Do you think Jorge Soler would be a good addition to Chicago’s roster?

They Said It

  • “In today’s game, in order to be a [competitive] team, regardless of your payroll, you constantly have to be transitioning new players into the big leagues. We’re going to have the opportunity to do that over the course of this year and the upcoming years, especially if you think about that wave of players coming up. Who knows which ones are going to be the ones that impact us in the big leagues? But our hope — and our expectation — is there will be several of them.” – Carter Hawkins
  • “That’s one thing we’re really excited about with Craig [Counsell] – his experience in that transition with a lot of young players in Milwaukee and his ability to help us through that. We’ll be a much stronger organization for taking some of those lumps. Not to say that we’re going to do that at the expense of the present, but we’ll give guys a little bit longer leash here as we go through it.” – Hawkins
  • “It’s obviously one thing hearing it word of mouth and then actually standing in the box and doing it. I think that’s pretty clear that there’s a bit of a jump. The learning curve that I’ve had at each level, it’s taken a second. Quicker at some levels than others.” – Crow-Armstrong

Wednesday Walk-Up Song

The one song that should have been in the movie Pirate Radio but didn’t make the cut.

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