'I know we're going to be successful': Hoyer still confident in Cubs' process
Call it a Dreary State of the Team Address for a Sunny Afternoon.
Before the Cubs extended their losing streak to 10 in a row Thursday at Wrigley Field, team president Jed Hoyer dutifully sat in the dugout and took questions from reporters. San Diego completed a four-game sweep with a 6-4 victory.
But really, what can he say? After last year's sell-off, the Cubs were hoping to be semi-competitive if everything went well, and it hasn't gone well.
What the Cubs should have done was send president of business operations Crane Kenney into the dugout when Hoyer finished. Kenney could then attempt to answer questions about how much money the Ricketts family has lost on the pandemic, Marquee network and Wrigleyville real estate.
Maybe Kenney could help explain why the Cubs have such an expensive fan experience, but the 14th-highest payroll in MLB. Or why the Ricketts spent relatively little on roster improvements last winter, but had the resources to make an (unsuccessful) run at buying the Chelsea Football Club?
None of those issues are Hoyer's doing. One could say he did his job well based on the current success of the restocked farm system.
"I know what we built last time," Hoyer said. "I have all the confidence in the world we're going to get there, but I'm aware sometimes things speed up and sometimes things slow down and I'm not smart enough to know what's going to happen.
"But I do know, and I have the ultimate confidence, I know we're going to be successful. Just like I knew that same thing last time. That doesn't make the day-to-day any easier. It doesn't. But I have all the confidence in the world in the quality of the team we're building."
Plenty of Cubs problems can be traced to a classic sports alibi: "Injuries are no excuse, but there have been a lot of injuries."
Between Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley, Drew Smyly, Seiya Suzuki and Nick Madrigal, that's three starting pitchers, the two biggest free-agent additions, and a couple of projected long-term pieces who haven't done much this season due to various injuries.
At the same time, a player who was barely on the radar before the season as the team's No. 21 rated prospect, Christopher Morel, has jumped into the rookie of the year conversation. None of this stuff is very predictable.
When asked if the poor results have him thinking more about the Aug. 2 trade deadline or adjusting the plan for this winter -- Hoyer didn't offer any direct answers.
"I have a sense of how to build the next great team and where we want to go," he said. "I didn't give you any sense of timing. I don't have a feel for that."
Last August, though, it was chairman Tom Ricketts who went on Marquee and said he expected the Cubs to bounce back quickly and not endure a painful rebuild like from 2011-13 after Hoyer and Theo Epstein first joined the franchise.
But it's starting to feel the same. In 2012, the Cubs lost 101 games. During the past calendar year, they've gone 55-100.
"This is a frustrating moment in time," Hoyer said. "Whether we feel that way in a month or two months, I don't know. I don't deny that from a record standpoint, even before this stretch, we weren't where we wanted to be."
Hoyer did have nice things to say about manager David Ross. That's not a surprise, since it's always seemed clear the Cubs planned to let Ross grow along with the rebuilt team.
"I think he's done a great job," Hoyer said. "He's the same person every day. I think every conversation we have is about how to make guys better, so I don't see any issue with him whatsoever. Some of the matchup stuff we had planned out, some of the platoons or some of the things we hoped for haven't materialized.
"He's frustrated, I'm frustrated. We sit there at night and talk through it, but all the conversations have been positive."
If fans are frustrated, they can always choose to stay home. Judging by the number of empty seats on Thursday, that process has already begun.