Chicago Cubs: How Well Did Jed Hoyer Do at the Winter Meetings?

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Chicago Cubs:  How Well Did Jed Hoyer Do at the Winter Meetings?
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Before beginning the day-by-day review of Jed Hoyer’s second round as the Cubs’ envoy at the Winter Meetings there is something I would like to address.

On this day 71 years ago, “the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan” sending over 2,400 American military personnel and civilians to their deaths.  Some of those deaths were merciful and occurred instantly.  But some, such as those inside of the USS Arizona, were not.

The events at Pearl Harbor that fateful day were some of the most horrific in our nation’s history.  It was a sneak attack that sent good men and women to early deaths.

December 7, 1941 was the darkest day the country had seen since the Civil War.  We were at our most vulnerable; still recovering from the Great Depression and possessed an ill-equipped military.   

But as the nation recovered from the shock, outrage, and sorrow of the attack we came together as no nation had ever before or since.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto – the architect of the attack – said following the success of the attack, “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

His words were prophetic.

Men and women throughout the country did whatever necessary to help in the war effort.  Whether by volunteering for the Armed Forces or Cadet Nurse Corps, building LST ships or P-47 Thunderbolt planes, risking their lives with every round of ammunition they helped manufacture, the selfless sacrifices those men and women made so America could serve retribution for the deaths at Pearl Harbor shaped our country into what it is today.

Photo Courtesy of the Evansville Courier & Press Archives - The Evansville Shipyard produced 157 LSTs during WWII at one point launching one vessel every three days.

Those unable to enter the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps worked tirelessly so American industry could operate at full production, 24-hours a day\7-days a week, to defeat the imperial forces of Japan and fascist invaders of Nazi Germany and Italy.  

The industrial and military might of the United States struck down against enemies of liberty and human decency on both sides of the world with the power of a vengeful God bringing forth a victory not just for the United States but all of humanity.

We should all give a moment of our time to pray for those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, and give thanks to all of those who served at home or abroad, in the military or in factories and shipyards for their service and sacrifice to our country

 

Day 1: Monday, December 3

It shouldn’t have been a surprise that little was done on the first day of the Winter Meetings for the Cubs or league-wide. 

Day 1 is sort of like the first day of school:  You’re getting acclimated to the surroundings, meeting new people and renewing old acquaintances, catching up with friends, learning the latest gossip and seeing what everyone is up to the next few days.

And while the Cubs were not linked to too much on Monday, there were brief discussions on MLB Network about the Cubs’ interest in signing Jeff Keppinger—which I believed they should and would have long before Buster Olney mentioned it nearly a week ago.

 

Day 2: Tuesday, December 4

The Cubs did not make any moves on Tuesday, but it is still early.  As with most other teams, the Cubs are working to find ways to not only bring in good players but the right way to do so.

They were connected to Yunel Escobar, Jason Bay and Mark Reynolds on Tuesday (by Jayson Stark, Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman, respectively).  But by day’s end, nothing materialized into anything more.

As predicted in the "Closing Notes" of 10 Free Agents the Chicago Cubs Should Pursue in the Offseason, the salaries players want and will ultimately receive are well above their true player value. 

 

Day 3: Wednesday, December 5

After two days of crickets coming out of the Chicago Cubs’ camp, Wednesday was met with more action by the Cubs.  The player I believed to be a key target for the Cubs this offseason had signed with Chicago…the White Sox, that is.

Jeff Keppinger and the Sox reportedly agreed to a three-year, $12 million deal according to ESPN, forcing the Cubs to have to look elsewhere for an upgrade at the hot-corner.

The Cubs did make one move on Wednesday.  Jerry Crasnick reported the Cubs signed Nate Schierholtz to a one-year, $2.25 million contract with $500,000 in incentives.  He had turned down a two-year, $5 million contract offer from an unspecified team, according to Jon Heyman.

Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reported the Cubs and Ryan Dempster were in talks about a return to the club.  But hours after his report, Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times refuted Levine’s claim and labeled the reunion as "implausible.

Then there was the Cheney-esque news about Dale Sveum being shot by Robin Yount while on a hunting trip together.

 

Day 4: Thursday, December 6

Not a whole lot of Cubs-related news came out on Thursday, with the exception of reliever Jason Grilli weighing his options of returning to Pittsburgh or leaving and signing with the Cubs or Blue Jays (per Ken Rosenthal).

The Cubs re-signed Ian Stewart to a one-year, $2 million contract with $500,000 in incentives and a clause that states if Stewart is released during spring training the Cubs would not owe the $2 million (via Bob Nightengale).

 

Wrap-Up

All-in-all the Cubs participation at the Winter Meetings went as expected, but with a disappointment here and there. 

The Cubs used their time in Nashville to "work the room"—to find out which players may become available, which of their players other teams are interested in and what their targeted free agents are looking for in a deal, and to finish their offseason budget shopping…hopefully.

They were not expected to be free-spending in their pursuits, but pragmatic.  Hoyer could have done a little bit more at the Winter Meetings and appear to have been more active—not to imply he was not, but little of the club’s movements were reported.

Their biggest loss was not only being unable to sign Keppinger but losing out on him to the Chicago Hawk Harrelsons.  How could this have happened?

Nevertheless, as of 8:00 a.m. CST, the Cubs were still theoretically in the mix to sign Jason Grilli away from the Pirates.  But it is looking more likely Grilli will be returning to Pittsburgh, according to CBS Sports.

But maybe, just maybe, the Cubs did not view the top players of this free-agent class as being deserving of the high-priced contracts they are reportedly asking for, so they went with signing low-priced, budget options to one- or two-year deals.  (There was a figure showing they have spent an eyelash over $28 million on seven free agents so far this offseason.)

An example of how the principles of supply and demand in the MLB free-agent market can cause players to ask for overpriced contracts is Zack Greinke.

You cannot tell me that Zack Greinke is better than Justin Verlander or Matt Cain.  But if things proceed as predicted, Greinke will enter the 2013 season as the highest-paid pitcher in the game.  He may be the best free-agent pitcher this offseason, but he is not the best pitcher in the league and should not be paid as such.

This financial prudence shown thus far may not help the Cubs too much in 2013, but in the long run it will work to their benefit.  The Cubs are willing to spend money to bring in free agents, but bringing in the right players at the right price for the organization is what they are focused on.

Hoyer’s mindfulness of the importance of long-term financial flexibility when making deals for the club is a trait that will allow the Cubs to stay competitive year-in and year-out once they reach that level.  Hoyer knows the organization can afford to bring in high-priced free agents, but only when their talent—and not supply and demand—mandates such a cost.

For his prudence and pragmatism, it would be erroneous to assess his time at the Winter Meetings as poor.

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