There was a point in time not too long ago that Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita were believed to be among the rare intelligent minds in the Chicago Cubs baseball department. That was under the Jim Hendry regime. Now, under the Theo Epstein regime, Wilken’s and Fleita’s standing with the organization is becoming to become clear. After making a great first impression with Epstein as well as general manager Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod, Wilken was promoted to an expanded role of being a special assistant to both Epstein and Hoyer. It is believed that Wilken will have a say in both professional and amateur scouting as well as various decisions regarding the Major League Baseball team. Fleita, on the other hand, apparently did not mix with the direction that Epstein and company are going in.
The Chicago Cubs announced on Wednesday that the team has fired Fleita, who operated under the role of vice president of player personnel. As Fleita indicated in his comments to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, the firing was likely a result of the new regime progressing through the various changes both in the front office and on the roster.
“This is just the progression of things that happen in an organization when new people take over,” Fleita told ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine. “I’ve enjoyed my time with the Cubs. I think we’ve accomplished a lot of good things here.” ESPN Chicago
A move like the one that the Cubs announced on Wednesday was expected once it was announced that McLeod would be tagging along with Hoyer in making the jump from the Padres’ front office to the Cubs’ front office. Though, the expectation was that Wilken would have been the one to part ways with the organization. Though, rightfully so, Wilken has seen his role expanded while operating under Epstein and Hoyer. Along with announcing the promotion of Wilken, the Cubs also announced that Jaron Madison was hired from the Padres’ front office to be the team’s scouting director. That could have been an indicator that winds were soon to change in the Cubs’ scouting department.
This move likely highlights the one mistake that Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts made last off-season. Before the Cubs had hired Epstein, Ricketts gave Fleita a four year extension. While Fleita has played a role in scouting international players such as Starlin Castro and Carlos Marmol, it was the wrong move by Ricketts to force Fleita onto Epstein’s regime. Nonetheless, with Fleita’s firing being the example, it is safe to say that Epstein will not face any restrictions by Ricketts in making personnel changes within the Cubs’ front office.
As the season draws to a conclusion and the off-season begins, I would expect their to be more shifting and shuffling within the Cubs’ front office. Expect the scouting department to continue to expand immensely over the course of the next couple of months as the new regime continues to modernize the Chicago Cubs’ front office.