The Chicago Cubs proved last year that they are ready to open the window for a championship run. Although they cooled down significantly towards the end, failing to hang onto a playoff spot, the team was playing competitive baseball into September for the first time in a long time.
The Cubs started the offseason by shocking the world. They fired manager David Ross in order to make way for Craig Counsell, who previously managed division rival Milwaukee. That move came with both excitement and expectations from those following the franchise, fans and media alike. It seemed as if it was a message that the Cubs were set to be active in both free agency and the trade market to put together a roster ready to win right away.
So far, we have seen no action.
Let me preface this with how early we are into this. This is around the time the Cubs landed a deal with Dansby Swanson last year, Hoyer’s biggest player acquisition to date. We still have over 100 days until Opening Day and about 2 months before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Additionally, Shohei Ohtani was always going to choose the Dodgers and that is a franchise willing to take the risk of overpaying (see Tyler Glasnow’s extension). But as Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic map out (Paid Subscription), there is an alarming trend with Hoyer at the helm.
Jed Hoyer and the Cubs have yet to meet offseason expectations.
Hoyer is a very patient man who trusts both his instincts and development system. We hear him being “in” on a lot of guys, but he never really opens up on his processes and we never seem to see it come through. It is no surprise that Tom Ricketts supports Hoyer at the helm because he has proven he is not trigger-happy to spend money in free agency.
I am starting to fear that the Counsell signing was not a message of aggression, but rather a message of keeping the status quo. The argument could be made Ross was the biggest reason the Cubs faltered at the end of last year. Maybe Hoyer believes that Counsell could get this team to the playoffs as-is without making a big financial commitment.
There is a blaring hole at first base that needs to be filled, no questions asked. Additionally, at least one starter and multiple relievers need to be added to this pitching staff. Aiming high would be signing Cody Bellinger, Jordan Montgomery, and/or Josh Hader or trading for Pete Alonso. But I’m starting to speculate we’ve been duped by meatball expectations and the plan is to, for the most part, run it back with Counsell at the helm.