Ricketts To Meet With Wilken–Extension Coming?


Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts admitted to reporters that he has no desire to hire a “baseball man” to oversee the baseball operations of the franchise. There has been an increasing amount of heat on Ricketts for that decisions, as many reporters criticize the Cubs owner for keeping Crane Kenney in place as the team president. While Kenney is indeed the team president, Ricketts has taken him out of the picture as far as the baseball operations are concerned. Instead, the next general manager of the Cubs will report directly to Ricketts. But before the new general manager is in place, some decisions regarding the team’s front office will have to be made. Ricketts already acted quickly be extending the contract of Oneri Fleita, thwarting the attempt by the Detroit Tigers to lure Fleita away from the organization. With the extension of Fleita as the indicator, Ricketts has assumed to the role of decision-maker in regards to the fates of the current front office personnel, at least until a new general manager is hired.

After the extension was given to Fleita, the focus immediately turned to the Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken. Wilken’s role in improving the Cubs farm system and evaluating prospects was far more superior than Fleita’s role, so one would expect that Ricketts intends to lock Wilken in for the long-term future. That appears to be the case. The Cubs chairman is expected to meet with Wilken during this homestand for the Cubs and discuss where Wilken belongs in the future of the Cubs organization.

A likely result from those discussions will be an extension for Wilken to remain the Cubs scouting director for the foreseeable future. Gordon Wittenmyer if the Chicago Sun Times reports that there could be several teams that make an attempt to pry Wilken away from the Cubs, and that belief could be what leads Ricketts to extend the contract of Wilken before a new general manager is in place.

Much like Ricketts did with Fleita, the Cubs owner may be rushing to judgement by possibly extending Wilken. While the Cubs season will end later this month, Wilken remains under contract with the organization until December. Meaning Ricketts does have time to hire a general manager, and then let the general manager decided whether or not he wants to keep Wilken. The answer should be rather obvious for the new general manager, Wilken is perhaps one of the best talent evaluators in all of baseball. Wilken’s career success drafting prospects should be reason enough for any general manager to want him as part of their regime.

There is a strong chance that Ricketts may be anxious to extend Wilken’s contract in order to prevent the chance that a team may be able to convince Wilken to leave the Cubs and join them. But that though does not hold much substance. Even though Wilken was a close friend of Jim Hendry, he has no desire to leave the Cubs organization and wants to finish what he started in developing the Cubs farm system. into one of the best in baseball. There is a good chance that Ricketts will have a new general manager in place by mid-October, and at the risk of making the position less attractive, the Cubs chairman should let the new general manager handle the extension process of Wilken.

While Ricketts has no desire to hire a baseball man to oversee the baseball operations of the Cubs, the Cubs chairman appears to be more than willing to assume that position himself. Ricketts has been perceived as having little knowledge about the overall baseball operations side of the organization, so it remains to be seen whether or not he can succeed in such a role. Regardless, Ricketts’ willingness to get involved in baseball decisions before a new general manager is hired, may jeopardize his search for Hendry’s replacement.