Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has spent the last couple of weeks reviewing front office personnel in addition to researching prospective general manager candidates. Two weeks ago, Ricketts rewarded vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita with a four year extension. Ever since that point, scouting director Tim Wilken was believed to the next official in line for a extension. Most believed, that Wilken would receive the same deal that Fleita did, which is one that allows the new general manager re-assign him to a different area within the baseball operations.
The Fleita and Wilken pairing has been very prosperous for the Cubs’ organization as the team’s improving farm system is a credit to both. Thus, increasing the likelihood that the pair will remain in their current positions once the new general manager is hired. Though, Ricketts has received criticism for how he has handled the Fleita extentision. Despite the language of the contract stating that there is an early opt-out a clause and the general manager has the flexibility to re-assign Fleita, many national reporters have suggested that Ricketts has already handcuffed the new general manager by forcing Fleita on him or her. Ricketts must have paid attention to that criticism as he decided to handle Ricketts differently.
The Cubs chairman sat down with Wilken to discuss his future with the organization, and Ricketts assured the team’s scouting director that he is in the Cubs’ plans for the 2012 season. But, Ricketts has opted not to give Wilken an extension and renewed his current contract for the 2012 season. Ricketts told Wilken that he wants to have the new general manager in place before making any more executive decisions.
Before we discuss Wilken, lets first expand on what Ricketts told Wilken as that may be an indicator that a general manager could be in place sooner rather than later. If Ricketts truely wants to wait till a general manager is in place before making any more executive decisions that could mean that the Cubs owner is hoping to have a general manager in place by mid-October. The Cubs still have a couple of executive decisions, including finding a new manager, and it is best if those decisions are made before the organizational meetings. Going under that scenario, that may increase the chance that the next general manager of the Cubs will be a highly touted assistant such as Rick Hahn of the Chicago White Sox.
Back to Wilken. In addition to assuring Wilken that he will be back in 2012, Ricketts gave Wilken permission to renew the contracts of the personnel in his departmartment as well as make new hires within his department. This was a brilliant decision by the Cubs’ owner. Ricketts has been more than willing to give Wilken free reign to structure the Cubs’ farm system, a