Now that Theo Epstein is almost officially a Cub, the next step is getting the band back together. Though Theo was the front man, the Boston model was never a one man show. First on the list appears to be Jed Hoyer.
According to Gordon Edes, Epstein and Hoyer are very close. Their working relationship is said to be one where different ideas are thrown back and forth rather than a passive kumbaya session. Hoyer is his own man who isn't afraid to speak up, and that's a good thing for Theo and the Cubs.
Landing Hoyer shouldn't be as contentious as getting Epstein. The Padres owner Jeff Moorad is said to be good friends with Tom Ricketts so negotiations should be much more amicable. Additionally, Moorad is close with AGM Josh Byrnes and would have no problems bumping him up to GM. Many feel Byrnes may have been the scapegoat in Arizona and even say he was fired simply for not firing manager AJ Hinch. Considering Moorad's friendship with Byrnes, it isn't a stretch to think that he believes he deserves another shot at GM and is willing to clear that path.
Another name to keep your eye on is Jason McLeod one of the VP/AGMs on Hoyer's staff. He joined Theo's staff in Boston in 2003. In 2004, he was named Director of Amateur Scouting and he is the man credited with some of the outstanding drafts early in Epstein's tenure. His first draft included former MVP Dustin Pedroia and his drafts were consistently ranked among the best in baseball by Baseball America.
It's unknown whether McLeod is being considered along with Hoyer or whether he was just an alternative to him. It's also uncertain what that would mean for Tim Wilken, who is currently the Cubs Director of Professional and Amateur Scouting. Epstein is believed to be high on both Wilken and Oneri Fleita (Farm Director and the Director of International Scouting) and it's expected that he will keep them both. However, the Boston model entails more specialized roles, whereas the Cubs have typically kept it lean in the front office, so we an expect that some roles will change.
Epstein has agreed to come because he will have complete control of baseball operations, so I look for him to divide up some of those responsibilities. It's possible Wilken and Fleita will have their roles changed where they will focus on a particular area rather than try to cover a large spectrum of duties. That is, of course, speculation, but it stands to reason that if Ricketts and Epstein are going to follow the Boston model, they aren't going to have one guy wearing multiple hats.
Everybody will have a clearly defined role and there will be room for collaboration amongst the people filling those roles. The increased communications amongst departments is simply a better way to do business than the Cubs have done in the past.
The man who shouldn't be forgotten here is Tom Ricketts himself. He's the man who's footing the bill for all of this to happen, the guy who brought Epstein in specifically so he can install this model. In that sense, because of the cooperation with an ownership that cares about winning, Epstein will have a greater chance of succeeding than Andy McPhail ever did.
It's an exciting time to be a Cubs fan. It's a new era, one where the Cubs are becoming a first rate organization with top people, top facilities, and a communication structure that is much more modern and specialized than any we have seen in our lifetimes. Nothing is guaranteed but it appears the Cubs may be well on their toward building a winning organization.
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