Blackhawks' hiring Greenberg 'significant' loss for Cubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The last time the Cubs lost an assistant general manager to another team, the Giants wound up with the best record in the majors in Scott Harris’ second year as San Francisco’s general manager, under Farhan Zaidi.
Nobody expects Jeff Greenberg to help the also-ran Blackhawks pull off a rise that dramatic that quickly — never mind in a new sport as the the Hawks’ associate general manager.
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But Cubs president Jed Hoyer said Greenberg is uniquely qualified to cross over to hockey and make an impact.
“I have no doubt,” Hoyer said. “I think whenever you switch sports or do something like that there’s going to be a natural skeptical look from a lot of people on the inside questioning why somebody from the outside can do it better,” said Hoyer, who leaned on Greenberg as a No. 2 during his short-handed first year as team president last year.
“I think Jeff’s uniquely able to handle that,” Hoyer said. “He’s unbelievably competitive but also humble enough to know he’s going into a different sport.
“He’s really talented, really bright,” Hoyer added. “I think he’ll have a ton of success. It’s just an incredible experience for him to spend this much time in baseball and rise to the level he’s risen and then have this opportunity.”
Paul DePodesta — the inspiration for the Jonah Hill character in Moneyball — is the most prominent executive to switch sports, the former Dodgers general manager and veteran of several other baseball front offices was hired in January 2016 as chief strategy officer for the NFL’s Browns (which amounts to the role of football operations president).
Greenberg won’t have the same level of influence in his new role, but he brings a long track record of working with sports analytics in one of baseball’s more advanced front offices — something much of the NHL lacks.
“Clearly they’ve looked at the challenge ahead of them, and they’ve decided going in a slightly different direction is the right thing to do,” Hoyer said. “I think it’s terrific.”
Greenberg, who was hired by the Cubs as a baseball operations intern in 2012, more recently worked under Harris until Harris took the Giants job, then assumed much of Harris’ role during the 2020 pandemic season.
When Theo Epstein resigned as team president that November and Hoyer was promoted into the job, it left a yearlong general manager vacancy that Greenberg unofficially filled until Carter Hawkins was hired after last season.
“When Theo left I leaned on him like crazy,” Hoyer said. “He did an incredible job i that capacity.”
Hoyer called it a “really significant” loss for the Cubs.
“He’s a plus teammate. He’s the kind of person that finds an extra five hours in each day to get work done somehow — an unbelievably prolific worker,” he said. “But he also finds time to talk to everyone and lead different areas and projects.
“Obviously, Jeff’s a big loss, but when you hire really good people and you watch them develop, your hope is they go elsewhere and they have a ton of success,” Hoyer added. “I always assume that success would come with other baseball teams, and that’s always difficult when their success comes against you. It’s kind of nice it’s hockey. I can become a huge Blackhawks fan and don’t have to worry about playing against them.”
It’s unclear how quickly the Cubs will move to backfill Greenberg’s position.
Greenberg was a finalist for the Blackhawks GM job that went to in-house candidate and then-interim GM Kyle Davidson on March 1.
“He’s awesome,” Hoyer said. “Just for him as a person, I’m really excited for him. It’s a unique opportunity, getting to work in a different sport and to try to take what he’s learned from baseball and put it in context of a sport he knows well from playing as a kid in college. And to not have to move his family and work for a historic organization, it’s a one-off.
“I really didn’t want to lose him, but I’m really happy for him.”