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Jason McLeod would bring sterling scouting record to the Cubs

Jason McLeod would bring sterling scouting record to the Cubs

The weather in Chicago has been cold and miserable the past few days, perhaps because all the hot air has traveled east to Boston.  San Diego, meanwhile, is sunny and pleasant this time of year, so today I think we'll turn our attention there.

Negotiations with San Diego have gone smoothly.  Although some are denying that any talk has taken place, most expect a deal to get done with the Padres rather quickly.  The two executives the Cubs have zeroed in are Jed Hoyer, who will be the new GM, and Jason McLeod, who is expected to assist him, where his experience on the amateur side will be a huge asset.

McLeod is probably the least known of the former Boston trio, but he had a huge impact on the Red Sox success since he was hired in 2003.  He stayed there for 7 years, the last 6 of which were highlighted by his work in amateur scouting.  Here's a look year by year look at some of McLeod's drafts.

2004: Boston didn't have a first round pick but they nabbed undersized Dustin Pedroia in the second round.  There were no other significant selections that year, but if you can get a rookie of the year and MVP, that pretty much makes the whole draft.

2005: Boston's first pick in '05 was Clay Buchholz, one of the Red Sox top starting pitchers when he's healthy.  The next two picks were pitchers Craig Hansen and Michael Bowden, both of whom spent time in the majors as relievers.  Bowden pitched 20 innings this year and finished with a 4.05 ERA.  The 4th round pick was Jed Lowrie, who got over 300 ABs as an infielder this year.  The 5th pick was Jacoby Ellsbury, who is an MVP candidate after a breakout season in 2012.  This draft was rated 2nd overall by Baseball America at the time.

2006: In this draft McLeod hit on a few more players and BA ranked this draft the best one of that year.  Daniel Bard, the excellent set up man and future closer was selected in the first round.  The second pick was Justin Masterson, who was later dealt to Cleveland as the centerpiece of the Victor Martinez trade.  Masterson was 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA for Cleveland this past season.  In the 9th round, the Sox selected rightfielder Ryan Kalish, who is expected to be their starting RF'er in 2012 as well as outfielder Josh Redick, who may challenge him for the job. Like a lesser version of our own Brett Jackson, Kalish is a good athlete who possesses solid tools across the board.  Other noteworthy picks were prospect Lars Anderson, plus Matthew LaPorta and Brandon Belt, two top hitters who did not sign but are now starters for the Indians and Giants, respectively.

2007: The Red Sox first pick was Nick Hagadone, a top pitching prospect who was also used in the Victor Martinez deal.  They selected Will Middlebrooks(3B), their current top prospect in the 5th round and in the next round they nabbed Anthony Rizzo (1B), #3 prospect last year, who was part of the package used to acquire Anthony Gonzalez.  They also picked Drake Britton, a top 10 prospect last year, and Yasmani Grandal, whom they did not sign, but is now a top catching prospect with the Reds.

2008: This draft featured former top pitching prospect Casey Kelly, who was used to acquire Anthony Gonzalez, as well as slugging catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who came up late this season and did well offensively despite the Red Sox collapse.  It also included former top prospect Ryan Westmoreland (OF), whose promising career was derailed by illness, though he is currently trying to make his way back.

2009: The jury is still out on his draft but it did produce top 10 prospect Reymond Fuentes (OF), considered the best athlete in their system.

McLeod has shown the capability to produce impact major league players, as well as role players and top prospects who were used to acquire sluggers like Victor Martinez and Anthony Gonzalez.

His recent drafts in San Diego have also been rated highly with this past draft ranking with our own great draft here in Chicago as one of the top 7 or 8 best this season.

That, of course, raises important questions.  If McLeod does come to Chicago as expected, how does he coexist with Wilken?  Will one get reassigned?  Will they work together in some way?  My guess, at least for next year, is that they'll work together for 2012 and give Espstein and Hoyer a chance to evaluate how the pieces fit best.

It's only a matter of time before the Chicago-Boston-Epstein rumors heat up again, so I thought we could use a breather on the notes from yesterday.  I'll post a new thread tomorrow covering the events as they unfold.  I'll keep updating it throughout the day until, hopefully, the deal gets done.  If it doesn't, the next possible date is Tuesday.

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    Sounds awesome! I'm sure between McLeod and Wilken the Cubs should still uncover some decent finds in a much thinner 2012 draft, especially is we get a few supplemental picks from free agent departures.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Some pretty nice players taken so far...especially early on where we already get a chance to see their impact at the major league level. I hope they find a way to get the two to work together. That would be a pretty dynamic duo.

  • I have to be honest here, I'm as excited at the possibility of McLeod and Jonathan Gilula joining the Cubs as I am for Theo and Hoyer.

  • In reply to Alex:

    Me too. I was just saying something similar the other day. This was very much unexpected. In fact, a lot of this has been. If you would have told me a couple of months ago that the Cubs would be on the verge of getting Theo Epstein AND Jed Hoyer AND Jason McLeod I would have said you were nuts.

  • Jason MacLeod is a great "get" by the Cubs. He is one of the best talent evaluators out there. I hope he and Wilkins can work together for the long haul, since both kind of do the same thing.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I've been wondering how that dynamic is going to work. They're both scouts but they have philosophies that are different. I'm hoping that they complement each other more than they clash. Looks like we'll find out over the next year or so.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    It's going to be interesting to see. Because whenever their is a disagreement, Epstein and Hoyer will likely go with McLeod's judgement over Wilken's, and Wilken's ego may or may not be able to handle that. If it can, then the kids they do agree on probably have a better than average shot of being something really special.

    One thing worth noting here are some similarities. Wilken is known to be risk taker, but McLeod can be too. Dustin Pedoria was considered a reach by most experts.

    You also have to compare the difference in owners for Wilken. Wilken didn't get that reputation for risk taking and over-reaching until his days with Tampa and the Cubs. Back in the day, Toronto ran their drafts very similar to the way Boston and the Yankees do now in terms of over-slotting. He came over from Tampa with the promise that he would have the financial flexibility to do that, and the Tribune never gave it to him. Then comes along the Ricketts, and they put their money where their mouth is. You didn't see him take a second or third rounder in the first round because he wasn't sure he could sign the guy he should have taken like he did with Tyler Colvin.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    It's a good point, Michael. You tend to side with people who are both familiar and more like-minded in any dispute. It'll be interesting to see what happens if both are around for the 2012 draft and a disagreement occurs during one of the meetings.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, if there is going to be a fundamental disagreement, I think it will be over the college players. High school kids don't have real long track records to go on, so you are judging them almost purely on physical tools alone. The college kids to have more of a record to look at. McLeod will see some college kids tools versus their actual record one way, where as Wilken will see some of them differently.

    The great thing is that, with more people in the scouting department, more sets of eyes are going to be looking at these kids. How many times did the Cubs really see Hayden Simpson? Other teams shyed away for a reason. Could it be they saw him more often?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Agree that will be the biggest sticking point. The younger you go, the more you need that subjective, old school type scout -- and that's Wilken. He favors high ceiling, projectable guys who are also high risk. McLeod a bit more conservative but he's gambled on some high risk high school guys, Casey Kelly, is the most notable.

    I'm giving Simpson another year. He was reportedly down to 155 pounds at one point and had lost a lot of strength. The Cubs probably saw him quite a bit, but I can assure he wasn't throwing 83 mph fastballs when they did, as was the case last season.

  • I hope Ricketts gives the Cubs for 2012 the same, or more, scouting budget as this year. If we can draft, and sign, more non-signable
    picks the Cubs will be set for many years Also let hope they can
    find a gem in the Rule V draft with the 6th pick.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I'll be surprised if he doesn't, emartinez. That had to be some of the appeal for these guys to come here to begin with. And I'm not sure if you've heard but it looks like the owners are not going to pursue hard slotting in the draft, which is good news for the Cubs who obviously don't stick to the recommended bonuses.

  • The draft, and international signings, is the best way to go. Fill in
    with trades and FA's, but don't mortgage the future by trading
    away key prospects or signing FA's to long contracts for BIG
    money (i.e., Fielder or Pujols)

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I agree you build from within but you also have to use those prospects in trades to get established MLB players when you can. That's half the value of having those prospects. They're an asset because they can give you production and cost control when they pan out, but they also are also assets as trade bait when you need to fill a spot on the big league club.

  • Although I like Wilkins and Fleita, I get the feeling that both will be gently "squeezed" out in the coming years. It's just Epstein and his guys have a different philosophy that either Wilkins and Fleita and Epstein usually surrounds himself with like minded people. I could be wrong, but it will not surprise me in the least if Wilkins and Fleita quietly leave the Cubs in the next couple of years.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I think it would be a mistake by Epstein. You need those old school guys. Epstein himself had Bill Lajoie and Wayne Britton when he first arrived...when those great teams were built without all the free agents.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with you John, hopefully my "feeling" is wrong.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Steve ... Great executives identify talent in their own organization and help it prosper and grow. Fleita has a deep, broad network in Latin America (THE growth area in baseball) and a commitment from TR - in the form of 50 acres and 2 complete new fields in the DR.
    Wilken is a time tested, long term talent with success in 3 organizations. He was highly influential in this draft - both Dunston & Maples were signed after what is reported to be his persistence in stating both could be "had" with the right offer.
    While it is interesting to note TR did not extend Wilken's contract I certainly hope that TE and his incoming talent make full use of all that both bring to the table.
    The long term success of the Cubs depends on full utilization of every available asset.

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    In reply to MoneyBoy:

    I think that, with the statistical analysis capabilities that Epstein will be bringing in with him, Wilken will be even better at his job.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Regarding the ability to work together, it's important to note that the Padres did have a separate scouting director working with McLeod. So the possibility exists that Wilken can work with him too.

  • This just keep getting better and better. It's like on Christmas your parents got you an XBOX and the rest of the family got you all the games and accessories you wanted!!!

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Haha! That's a perfect analogy. So do you think that makes Fleita and Wilken the Atari set or is it at least a Play Station that you want to keep around?

  • So....
    Is today the day?

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Okay...that's kind of eerie. I just wrote a new post with that same question!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Eh, not that eerie. It's a thought that is on everyone's mind. I just voiced it.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    I know. Just exaggerating the importance of a simple coincidence...doesn't come off well in print though!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Fair enough.

  • Nice Job John!

    We've seen Josh Byrnes bounce around plenty since he was an area scout with the Indians but what has he really accomplished that keeps him in the mix?

    Isn't Jeff Moorad getting really coming up short on all this? What was fair compensation for Jason McLeod?

    How off the mark was the compensation for Adrian Gonzales?

  • In reply to Lawscout:

    Byrnes really seems to maintain a strong reputation despite not having a strong track record. Billy Beane recently lauded him as well.

    Moorad's one of those guys who's high on Byrnes, so I'm guessing his reward is to make him GM. If he had been available at the time, it's likely he would have hired Byrnes over Hoyer.

    I think the compensation for Gonzalez was fair, especially when you consider the Padres were going to lose him in a year anyway. They got the Red Sox top pitching prospect, the #3 prospect, Rizzo, who also happens to play 1B, and a 3rd top 10 prospect in OF'er Fuentes. I know a lot of Red Sox fans thought that was actually overpayment at the time. I think it was a fair deal under the circumstances, but I would have liked to have gotten a sure thing in that mix. I know the Padres pushed hard for Ellsbury but came up short. Had he been included that would have been a clear win for the Padres when you consider short term salary concerns

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