The Chicago Cubs held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to introduce Jed Hoyer as "Executive Vice President and General Manager". They also introduced Jason McLeod as "Senior Vice President, Scouting and Player Development". Both men will report to Theo Epstein, who was named last week as Cubs "President of Baseball Operations".
These men worked together for the Red Sox and helped bring two World Series titles to Boston. But they had different titles and responsibilities then; it would appear on the surface that all three men received promotions (and, likely, more money) in making these moves, Epstein from Boston, the other two men from the Padres, where Hoyer was general manager.
But when I told my Baseball Nation colleagues about the news conference, Rob Neyer had questions, which turned into a round-table discussion ...
Rob: I thought MLBN was carrying the press conference but they didn't. Did anybody ask him in the press conference why he would give up running a team of his own to work under Theo?
Al: Both Hoyer and Jason McLeod said they would not have done this if it weren't for Theo. They really do seem happy to have "put the band back together". And, Hoyer will be acting as day to day GM, running a team, reporting to Theo. So, essentially he has the same responsibilities he had in San Diego.
Rob: That doesn't make sense to me. Was Jed not running Baseball Operations in San Diego? Because he sure won't be running them in Chicago.
Al: I think that's a matter of semantics more than actual duties. Theo is president of baseball operations, but sounds like he will be giving Jed considerable autonomy and authority.
Rob: Okay ... so what will Theo be doing, exactly? If not running baseball operations?
Al: I guess it all depends on how you define "running baseball operations". Jed is going to be responsible for trades and free agent signings, reporting to Theo.
Rob: Okay, let's be specific. Somebody wants to trade a third baseman to the Cubs. Who do you call?
Rob: So Theo's not involved?
Al: I assume he would be, but Jed is "executive VP and general manager".
Rob: Another question ... Cubs win the World Series. Who gets credit for putting the team together?
Al: Both of them.
Rob: That's never happened in the history of baseball. There's a manager and a general manager. And in the singular case of George Steinbrenner, an owner. There's never been credit given to someone who didn't have one of those jobs.
Al: I admit, this is an unusual way of doing things. Theo is "President of Baseball Operations". Jed is "Executive VP/GM". Jed reports to Theo. Theo reports to Tom Ricketts.
Rob: Yes. I know what the org chart looks like. I don't understand why Jed would happily accept what amounts to a demotion.
Al: Working with Theo again. I'm guessing more money.
Jeff: What about when the Orioles had co-GMs? That's the only example that comes to mind.
Rob: But they were co-GMs.
Grant, I've heard that Larry Baer sort of runs the Giants. Is this a comparable situation?
Grant: Not really. Baer is more of a number-cruncher than an analyst. And those numbers are about money.
Al: Here's the notes I wrote down when they were describing it: Jed has traditional GM duties. Jed will run the MLB club day to day. Every GM reports to someone, either the owner or team president. Jed reports to Theo; it's not a one person job. It requires several people, Theo, Jed, Jason, Oneri Fleita, Tim Wilken.
Rob: Maybe I'm not expressing myself well enough. Yes, it's true that every GM reports to someone. But a GM's power is largely determined by whom he reports to. If a GM reports to someone who reports to the owner, he has less power than if he reported directly to the owner.
Now, I don't know who Jed reported to in San Diego. But if he reported directly to the owner, he theoretically has less power now than he did then.
Al: Except in this case, Ricketts has given Epstein pretty much total control over the baseball operation. It's telling that Ricketts was NOT part of this news conference. It was run by Theo.
Al: Maybe less power for Jed now, but working for someone he trusts implicitly. Possibly more money.
Rob: My guess? Jed wasn't happy in San Diego, and perhaps the owner wasn't happy with Jed. Figuring his days were numbered there anyway, this move is a soft landing.
Al: And if the Cubs win the World Series with him as GM, immortality.
Rob: No, but that's my point! He won't get the credit for that! Theo will!
Al: I think they all will. Here's something else they said. Jed was happy in SD and had several years left on his deal. They could have made him stay. But Jeff Moorad and Josh Byrnes are close from their days in Arizona. It seemed clear that Moorad wanted Byrnes as GM eventually. So now was good timing for everyone concerned.
Rob: Again: It's never happened that way. One man will be regarded as the architect, just as Theo gets most of the credit for Red Sox championships even though he was part of a big team there.
Al: Still. Anyone who's part of the Cubs World Series winner when it happens will be legendary forever.
Rob: Really? Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer were both part of the Red Sox winners. Will they always be legendary in Boston? I kinda doubt it.
Al: You'd have to ask a Red Sox fan.
Well. We went on for a little bit longer, never resolving this entirely. I'd argue that Cherington and Hoyer are highly regarded by Red Sox fans; it's certain that Cherington is by Boston ownership, because they had him succeed Epstein.
And just to muddle things further, it was announced late this afternoon that Randy Bush, who was Cubs assistant GM under Jim Hendry and was elevated to interim GM when Hendry was fired, will remain in the organization as an assistant general manager under Hoyer. Or under Epstein. Or under both.
Cubs fans won't care how confusing this is as long as all of them can bring a World Series title to the north side of Chicago.