Cubs hire Carter Hawkins over ten-year pitch failures
For a split second on Monday, it seemed obvious why the Bear cubs hired Carter Hawkins as new general manager: Cleveland’s long history of developing local pitchers.
“Yeah, so the secret to developing pitching…” Hawkins said, getting the full attention of the room.
“It’s just a joke. There is no secret.
Now he tells us.
All jokes aside, Hawkins’ role in a Cleveland front office with a long history of developing local weapons is exactly what attracted the Cubs and led to Jed Hoyer appointing him general manager.
Seven Cleveland-developed pitchers – including six of their own draft picks – have made at least one start for them this year, a group that includes Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie.
They’ve used 10 of their 11 top draft picks this year on pitchers.
“Obviously, Cleveland loves pitching, and they do a great job with pitching,” said Hawkins, who was officially introduced as the Cubs general manager on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have long struggled to develop local starting pitchers since Theo Epstein and Hoyer took over the front office ten years ago.
In 2021, four Cubs pitchers signed and developed under the current regime made at least one start: Adbert Alzolay, Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson and Cory Abbott, who combined for 37 in total.
Before 2021, only four of those Cubs pitchers made six combined starts – Alzolay making six more.
Let there be a secret to Cleveland’s success, the Cubs view Hawkins’ experience in this front office as an asset. Prior to becoming Deputy Managing Director in 2016, he held positions including Recruitment Assistant and Director of Player Development.
“They’ve developed all areas of the player really well, but obviously they’ve been exceptional, especially quite recently,” Hoyer said of Cleveland.
“You look at guys like Bieber and Plesac and Civale and guys like that that they raised. You’re not going to hire a GM based on a few guys that they’ve developed, obviously, but certainly their ability to develop pitching has been remarkable.
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That’s not to say that there’s a secret sauce the Cubs can apply to their organization to produce winner Cy Young after winner Cy Young.
“I think the idea that ‘this team has got something’ – in general, that kind of competitive advantage is really fleeting,” Hoyer said.
But at least Cleveland’s success in an area where the Cubs have struggled deeply is exactly why Hoyer wanted to leave the organization to hire a GM after being promoted to president a year ago.
Hawkins said: “What the Indians have been really, really successful in doing is taking all the information out there – and there’s a ton of it, and it’s all really good – but synthesizing it into digestible information that ‘a player can embark with, a team of coaches can embark with, a front office and embark with, and get everyone going in one direction.
“And if you do this consistently over time, you’re going to put yourself in a good position to have success stories like Indians have had.
“I know it can be done here, and it is our goal to work towards it.”