Commentary: Jed Hoyer messed up
Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

Commentary: Jed Hoyer messed up

by - Staff Writer -

Jed Hoyer can largely shoulder the Cubs' dysfunction thus far in 2024. The Cubs were 83-79 in 2023 and missed the playoffs by one game in the NL Wild Card standings. Powered by an extremely hot stretch in late June and July, the Cubs did enough to convince Jed Hoyer and Co. to add to their team at the trade deadline instead of sell.

However, a September riddled with struggles saw the Cubs wither away their playoff hopes and miss the postseason altogether. That pointed toward the offseason being pivotal for Jed Hoyer and the Cubs’ brass as they tried to build their contender.

The Cubs lost Jeimer Candelario and Marcus Stroman in free agency. At the very least, they needed to secure Cody Bellinger in free agency to keep the core of last season’s lineup together. The Cubs were able to sign Bellinger and then made a few moves to make up for their holes. The Cubs signed Shota Imanaga to fill Stroman’s spot in the rotation, and he has been excellent (7-1, 1.89 ERA). The Cubs also traded for Michael Busch from the Dodgers to play first base and some second and third if needed. The Cubs addressed their holes in a simple way of replenishing them but did nothing to address the need to improve, considering this team missed the playoffs by a game.

Hoyer banked on the same production from all the players that produced in 2023 (worth 83 wins) and made an interesting splash to make up the difference. The Cubs swooped in and hired free agent manager Craig Counsell (who’s Brewers of the last decade had owned the Cubs) to a record contract for an MLB manager. The hope was that if Hoyer could give Counsell an 83-win ball club that underachieved, a top manager could swing some of those close games and make the Cubs contenders.

In fact, in 2023 — if the result of every one-run game were flipped, the Cubs would have won the division by five games over Counsell’s Brewers. Instead, Milwaukee won the division by nine games over the Cubs. Hoyer hoped to manufacture his luck, getting on the better side of these results and ultimately contending for a division.

Hoyer did not account for the possibility that his flawed roster construction would rear its ugly head. The Cubs’ success from Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, and Ian Happ was not matched in 2024. The expected leap from Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel looked good on paper but has not yielded noticeable results this season. Yan Gomes’ consistency and Miguel Amaya’s potential looked like a solid catching tandem in 2023, and instead, they’ve been the league’s worst catchers this year. Not to mention, the Cubs’ have been riddled with injuries — and that doesn’t include their pitching staff, which has been a potent combination of injuries and inconsistencies in 2024.

Plus, part of what made Counsell’s Brewers so lethal in close games is the dynamic 1-2 punch of Josh Hader and Devin Williams locking down close games. Instead, Counsell was handed one of the league’s worst bullpens, which had already blown 15 saves this season.

Hoyer was banking on the Cubs being as good as they were last year, so he chose not to make substantial additions aside from a manager who was supposed to swing close games in their favor. Instead, the Cubs have underachieved massively in 2024 and have been tottering for last place in a weak NL Central.

That’s on Jed Hoyer.

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