The Chicago Cubs are reportedly set to announce the hiring of Theo Epstein on Friday, likely to the position of President of Baseball Operations. While we all knew that was happening, another twist in this story is that Epstein will reportedly be bringing in former Red Sox staff member Jed Hoyer to act as the Cubs’ general manager.
Hoyer has been the general manager of the San Diego Padres since October of 2009 and had put himself to work remaking the franchise. Now, he’s apparently leaving to attempt to do the same thing in Chicago. But, if you think Hoyer will be anything more than a glorified lieutenant to Epstein with the Cubs, you’re fooling yourself.
Epstein reportedly first asked Padres assistant general manager Josh Byrnes to join him in Chicago, but Byrnes turned his former boss down, prompting Epstein to turn to Hoyer.
Hoyer then reportedly told Padres owner Jeff Moorad of the offer and said he would stay with the Padres if the franchise gave him a five-year contract extension. Moorad declined and let Hoyer walk. The Padres are expected to elevate Byrnes to the GM position as soon as the Cubs make Hoyer’s hiring official.
I have mixed feelings about Hoyer’s tenure in San Diego. When you promise to rebuild a franchise and say that you’re in it for the long haul, then jump at the first opportunity to go somewhere else, you lose credibility in my book.
Hoyer’s time in San Diego will likely be defined by winning 90 games and missing the playoffs with Kevin Towers’ roster in 2010, then trading the team’s best player to his former employer with the Adrian Gonzalez-Boston Red Sox deal, and finishing in last place in 2011.
While Hoyer and his staff did appear to have two solid drafts, we won’t really know how much impact those players will have for a few years.
I’m not upset that Hoyer is leaving for another team, I’m upset that he acted as if running the Padres was what he wanted to be doing and that he’d be there for a long time. To me it’s the same as when a coach claims he’s at his dream job, then takes another just a few years later (people in Illinois should know that feeling thanks to Bill Self). You feel cheated that you put your faith in that person and they let you down.
That said, Hoyer isn’t universally loved in San Diego and some fans had questioned a few of his moves, most notably his free agent pickups before the 2011 season.
It’s hard for me to believe that Epstein will really let Hoyer act as an independent general manager for the Cubs. I mean, sure Epstein is probably burned out on the day-to-day baseball grind right now, and wants to take a step back. But as soon as things don’t go well or there is a hiccup you know he’s going to jump right back in and want control. There is no way he’ll just be a hands-off management type of guy. If he is, then the Cubs are paying him way too much to do that job.
I just think in the long run Hoyer will regret leaving a low-pressure situation like San Diego, to essentially play second-fiddle to Epstein. Sure they are friends but doesn’t everyone want to make it on their own and prove themselves?
I guess Hoyer is just more comfortable working in Epstein’s shadow.