Cubs

Hoyer, McLeod To Focus On Player Development

Jed Hoyer (Photo  by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Jed Hoyer (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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By Sam Zuba-

(CBS) The Cubs got the band back together.

One week after introducing Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations, Chicago reunited him with his friends from Boston.

Joining Epstein in Chicago is Jed Hoyer, who will act as the club’s executive vice president and general manager, and Jason McLeod, the team’s senior vice president and head of scouting and player development.

Both Hoyer and McLeod come to the Cubs from the Padres organization and worked with Epstein in Boston for both of the Red Sox’s World Series titles.

“It’s something that I don’t think any of us could have imagined given the jobs that we were holding at the time,” Hoyer said of the trio’s reunion. “There are a lot of great people here. The three of us look forward to leading that group.”

Epstein will serve as the leader of the three, while Hoyer will tackle day-to-day general managing duties and oversee the major league ball club. McLeod will act as lead scouting director and will head up the player development department.

Epstein referred to McLeod as “the rarest commodity in the industry” after overseeing drafts in Boston that turned out players like former A.L. MVP Dustin Pedroia, MVP-hopeful Jacoby Ellsbury and starting pitcher Clay Buchholz.

“Everyone thinks of the Red Sox as this big-market, big-money juggernaut, but at the same time, we were able to develop players over there,” McLeod said.

The Cubs will retain Randy Bush as assistant general manager, and Oneri Flieta and Tim Wilken will remain in their current roles.

“This is more than a one-person job,” Epstein said. “It’s not even close to being a one-person job. The thought is that with the three of us in the trenches, along with Randy (Bush), Tim (Wilken) and Oneri (Fleita) maybe we can get to where we want to go, which is a foundation of sustained success, a little bit quicker than if it was just one or two people trying to get it done.
While the specifics of what will take place inside the walls of Wrigley Field are still hazy, one thing is certain — the entire organization will focus on developing its own players. Scouting and player development will replace big-money free agents.

“I believe that in order to have success in this game, the foundation has to be through scouting and player development,” Hoyer said. “There’s no short cut. There’s no magic bullet. You have to have a good farm system. You have to have great scouts. Part of why the three of us are sitting up here today is that all three of us believe in that philosophy wholeheartedly.”

Under the new regime, free agency will be used to fill voids, not create a winning ball club.

“I think in general, you want free agency to be complementary,” Hoyer said. “You want to get to the point where you have a great farm system. Occasionally, you have a hole you need to fill, or you need an area of impact and you can go out and find it. Relying on external solutions to build a winning baseball team is a bad idea and something that we need to get past.

“Most importantly, the key to free agency is making sure you’re always paying for future performance. There’s no reason to pay for someone’s resume. The key is to pay for the production that you get. There is value to be found in free agency. You have to look very hard for it a lot of times, but there is value there. I think relying on it as the essence of building a baseball team, not only is that a bad idea, you can’t have sustained success.”

Starting a grass-roots organization doesn’t happen overnight. By definition, it takes time to develop players.

The Cubs fans base is unquestionably hungry for its first title in more than a century, but that challenge is something Hoyer is looking forward to.

“That challenge is part of the allure of the job,” Hoyer said. “I don’t act like this is a small task. I know this is an incredibly big task, but that’s part of the fun.”

For more information follow Sam on Twitter (@SamZubaCBS).