In a rare media appearance last week, Chicago Cubs president Jed Hoyer said it would be impossible to fully assess last year’s sale for a long time.
“They’re probably going to be rated in 2027 for real, and I think that’s how it should be,” Hoyer said of the trade flurry. “I don’t think anyone should consider that a passing grade at this point.”
It made perfect sense. Most of the top prospects acquired by Hoyer in 2021 — from the Yu Darvish deal to trade deadline moves — will have reached the Cubs by then or will have been dealt or simply capped.
But when Hoyer mentioned 2027, my first thought was whether I’d still be around to offer an opinion on whether he deserved a passing grade. Five years is a long time in this business, and I admit that I am probably the age of Tony La Russa’s Sunday shoes.
So, to get ahead of the game, I decided to rate the Hoyer sale now, knowing it would hold up well in 2027.
Hoyer, of course, deserves an F.
Excuse me, I meant an A.
I just had what press wags call a “marquee moment”.
The big sale of 2021 will live on in Cubs infamy and will ultimately be judged by whether it helped them achieve their goal of winning another World Series in the not-too-distant future.
We already know they couldn’t win another ring with Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Báez. The Cubs haven’t won another three-star playoff game after 2017, and they deserve some of the blame for that failure.
We also don’t know if the next group of prospects can win one. But that doesn’t seem to matter right now, which is why Hoyer deserves an A.
Hoyer correctly assumed that an inferior on-field product would not significantly affect ticket sales and the reduction in long-term contract commitments was greater than the competition in 2022.
The Cubs may have lowered their payroll and expectations, but they still average 31,673 fans per game at Wrigley Field, eighth among the majors entering Thursday’s games.
Thousands of no-shows have reduced concession and memorabilia sales, and vendors say fans aren’t drinking so much beer on such tight cash these days. But given the team’s sub-500 record, generally terrible spring weather and lack of players to market besides Willson Contreras and signees Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki, the Cubs have to make do with crowd size. .
With warmer weather ahead and schools closed, attendance is expected to spike this summer. The star-studded White Sox, on the other hand, sit 18th despite back-to-back playoff appearances.
Despite a 1.7% drop in average ticket prices, the Cubs still rank fourth among the majors with $56.83, according to Team Marketing Report. In terms of fan cost index, the Cubs are at $364.83 for a family of four, second highest behind the Boston Red Sox ($385.37). Going to Wrigley is always an expensive proposition during a rebuild that can’t be called a rebuild.
But in the short term, the Cubs haven’t suffered economically from putting an inferior product on the field. The season is going in its most anticipated fashion as the roster has been completed post-lockdown, and Hoyer can sleep well knowing he has no long-term nine-figure contracts to worry about when Jason’s deal Heyward expires after 2023.
On deck for Hoyer is another in a series of franchise-defining decisions: keep or deal with Contreras. If Contreras is treated, the chances of wrestling would apparently be extended by at least a year, possibly two. Otherwise, Hoyer risks losing Contreras to free agency after the season.
Either way, we’ll soon get our first glimpse of the next wave when Iowa Triple-A starter Caleb Kilian, acquired as part of the Bryant deal, becomes the first of the ‘Summer of ‘ 21 Babies” to make his Cubs debut.
It won’t be next week, according to manager David Ross, but whenever it does it’ll be quite the party, much like Rizzo’s Cubs debut on June 26, 2012.
This event was preceded by television commercials touting the big game and full-page newspaper advertisements promoting the WGN-Ch. 9 broadcast. Now that the Cubs have their own network, they could do a full documentary on Kilian’s early life if needed.
The times have changed.
The clock for Hoyer’s “next big Cubs team” unofficially begins with Kilian’s call, just as Bryant’s arrival on April 17, 2015, started the clock for the previous rebuild. With Kilian, Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson in the 2023 rotation, the Cubs can show modest improvement before potentially vying for a playoff spot in 2024.
That would make 2025 the logical target date for Hoyer, whatever he calls it, or a year less than Theo Epstein’s rebuild.
For now, Cubs fans are counting down the days until the annual summer sellout.
They wonder who will leave and who will stay, but not as much as last summer when the Big Three were part of the daily conversation. They’ve learned to “kiss the shit,” as Joe Maddon once suggested in his tongue-in-cheek commentary on decades of low expectations on the North Side.
But this time, they really mean it.
Many Cubs teams were no longer relevant by Memorial Day. Somehow you managed to get through the season. Remember, if you don’t have expectations, you can’t be disappointed. Just think of 2022 as a “Cubs Classic” season, like 1982 or 2012, and you’ll be fine.
Factoring the legendary resilience of Cubs fans into the equation is why Hoyer deserves an F for the 2021 sale.
Sorry, I meant an A.
Can we edit this part and start over?