CHICAGO — The new president of the Chicago Cubs, Jed Heuer, is one of the baseball rats who has as much knowledge of the game as his predecessor, the supposed CEO of the Hall of Fame, Theo Epstein.
Some spectators may see Hoyer’s climb to the top of the baseball team as a way out of Epstein’s long shadow, but for those involved, it’s not a dramatic gesture – it’s an easy challenge.
If there was a GM project, Jed would be a pioneer and an agent would retire. He’s well equipped for the task.
The Cubs agreed and gave Hoyer a five-year contract on Monday, just days after Epstein’s resignation. Hoyer has his own task to help him lead a changing organization. Their triumph in the World Series 2016 has not been completely erased from memory, but what has remained of this team over the past four seasons is not to be expected for long. It is now up to Mr. Hoyer to adopt and apply the lessons he has learned from Epstein – and at the same time make his mark on the rewriting of the list.
If people consider him a friend of Theo’s, I think that would be an incredible compliment, said Ben Cherington, general manager of Pittsburgh Pirates. Theo the Hungry Hall. You can’t be friends with Theo if you’re not good yourself. Jed can hang out with Theo because he can follow him intellectually, because he’s fast on his feet [and] because he has the sympathy to treat everyone in operations and baseball players. He can get feedback and do something about it, he can have difficult conversations and he can do anything without being recognized.
The final reflection is on what Hoyer has been the Cubs’ general manager for the past nine years. While the decisions between Epstein and Hoyer were almost the same, it was Epstein who got the loan and stood in front of the cameras. Not by his choice, of course, but that’s how history is written. It’s about equality behind the scenes – that’s why Hoyer isn’t afraid to follow these big steps.
I don’t see myself coming after him, Hoyer told the reporters Monday. I was here the whole time. When you imagine following the leader of the Hall of Fame, it can be scary. If you are looking for a successor for your mentor after nine years of involvement, this is probably the best way to look at the experience.
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Both Epstein and Hoyer pointed out that the latter was his own man. In fact, their paths to higher positions were very different. You’d think Hoyer was one of those Ivy League guys who paved the way to the top, but he actually played college football for Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He then joined the Boston Red Sox in the front office, where Epstein and Carington worked together, and the current general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Mike Hazen. That’s when the people around him knew that he had a passion for the game that knew no boundaries.
When Jed was an intern with the Red Sox, we still used voicemail to exchange information about last night’s Little League games, Cerington said. One of Jed’s tasks was to send information about the launch of the Junior League via voicemail to one of our employees. He just reads the rules on his answering machine. But he did it with such passion and tone that it sounded like he was having a real conversation. It was beautiful.
Hoyer finally made it to his concert in San Diego, but two years later he joined Epstein in Chicago to break the second curse. After winning two Red Sox titles, the duo overcame a 108-year drought of titles with the Cubs. Epstein’s legacy is made. Hoyer’s not far from him.
The championship tank is all about water, observes agent Scott Boras. When the owner hands over the dam, Jed has a key to operate the gates.
A slightly different personality, said Padres GM A.J. Preller. Both boys are very direct. They know what they want. You’re very well-informed. If you deal with them, they are very willing and not afraid to do business. There are more similarities between them.
The officer added that they complement each other well and have more in common than differences. … In a relaxed environment, both are fun, can be offended and enjoy the moment. In professional life Theo is very enlightened, he is not too patient with pleasant things and he has a short fuse. Jed is smart, well trained, never loses his words or answers, can disarm you with his charm and has more tolerance. Interestingly, their approach is different, but they almost always succeed in reaching their goal.
This description is also adapted to the public side of the duo. Even Epstein got a taste of Hoyer’s style when they made a big deal between the Red Sox and the Padres in 2010. Anthony Rizzo, who became the star player of the Cubs, went from the Red Sox to the Padres and then to Adrian Gonzalez.
He can seduce with light-hearted conversations, chats and pleasant behaviour, but in the end he knows what he wants and has the chance to get it, Epstein said about his protégé. He wanted Rizzo. Instead, I tried to give him Lars Anderson. I can mention it because Lars is a good friend. But even Lars would admit he’s not Anthony Rizzo, so we tried to give him Lars, but Jed wouldn’t take Lars Anderson. He wanted Rizzo.
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In conversations with people from the league, two things always came to mind in Hoyer’s mind: his passion for the game and the same as with his predecessor. It was clear in the deal for Rizzo.
Jed behaves extremely humble and professional and always knows more about his team and usually more about yours than you, said Hazen in an e-mail. He’s done a lot of good things in San Diego and will definitely do them again here.
The Cubs are counting on her. Catching a pandemic – and losing one of the great minds of the game in the process – is not the easiest of transitions. The good news is that Hoyer has been passionate about the sport ever since he was a young intern at the Red Sox.
He likes to talk about the game with anyone interested, Cerington said. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. We’ve always jokingly said that if he found a tree that really liked the game, he could talk to it.
Now Hoyer will have plenty of time to talk about baseball as he will initially take over the two-person position, while the Cubs will look for a general manager to take over his former position. In the past, he and Epstein have had joint phone conversations with officers and superiors.
He’s really grown in the last few years, Epstein said. I defied him somehow. He has truly stepped up and doubled his efforts to be at the centre of all discussions within the organisation. His relationship has evolved.
This growth is the main reason why Epstein resigned with the remaining contract year. In short, Hoyer is ready to be number one with a top team. If he succeeds, the shadow from which he came will disappear as soon as possible. For many people this has already happened, but this does not mean that Hoyer is not being compared and viewed from the outside. After all, there’s something better than the person he’s replacing.
Theo was a brilliant leader, Hoyer said. He can take care of a lot of things easily. Some of the things he did seemed simple, but they’re actually much more complicated. You’re gonna have to take a lot. He’s made a lot of things easy for me to work hard on.
We’re not the same people. Different identities. I can’t be what I’m not. I can’t try to behave like Theo. I have to act like me.
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